Driving into Newnan, Georgia (30 miles south of Atlanta on I-85) you discover that there are actually two towns - the one from the past and the one representing the future. The future has all the vices of modern society; from dozens of trendy and not so trendy restaurants to major shopping and medical centers. And the accompanying problems of a modern growing city - most notably traffic congestion. It is the birthplace to, among others, Alan Jackson, who’s first job was working in Spayberry’s BBQ, a local iconic restaurant.
The past dates back to 1828. It was originally slated to be the capital of Georgia before Atlanta. The heart of which is the downtown square surrounded by businesses and restaurants. However, they are mostly tired. And it looks tired. It is not distressed like some of the older southern cities; rather, it feels like most of the establishments are happy the way they have been and content to keep them that way.
There are exceptions, most notably the coffee shop which serves everything from lattes to homemade Reese’s peanut butter cookies..
On the whole, the old part of Newnan feels transitional - not new, not old. Much like I suspect my new home town Fairhope, Alabama felt in the 1960’s, before Mayor Sims decided to take actions that resulted in the rebirth of our wonderful little city.
However, the city is not without it’s positive attributes. Most notably the arts. There are little trains placed throughout the downtown area painted by artists that are both whimsical and truly works of art. A few years ago they provided the same program with horses. It adds color and charm to an area that needs a smidgen more of both.
It was also enlightening to walk around the central courthouse square (think back to the future) and read the signs about this citie’s past, a testament to the courage of its citizens and the community.
All in all, it was a fun visit. And although we could see the potential of this town (based on our living in Fairhope), it has not yet been realized.
Our hope is that someday it can be transformed into a vibrant and magical destination that is deserving of its heritage and place in history.
In the meantime, it is a nice place to visit.
John O'Melveny Woods is an author and publisher living in Fairhope Alabama. He can be reached at johnwoods7@hotmail. His web site is located HERE.