Research and Preservation
2004 - Present
Established in 1807, the community of Clinton served as an economic and cultural center for the Georgia frontier. Buildings date from 1808-1835 and together provide a rare example of a largely intact Georgia rural frontier village that combines commercial and residential structures.
William Lamar Cawthon, Jr. wrote in his thesis, Clinton: County Seat of the Georgia Frontier, 1808-1821, about Clinton, Georgia:
“ Few Georgians are aware of Clinton, even though early in the nineteenth century it was one of the chief towns of the state. Clinton was the county seat of Jones County, which until 1821 was on the western border of Georgia’s settlements. To this new territory, ceded by the Creek Indians in 1805, came large numbers of people, attracted by the rich soil and healthy climate. In Clinton’s heyday Jones County was apart of Georgia’s leading section, the upcountry plantation belt, lying above the fall line. In 1820 Jones County was the states second most populous, and Clinton essentially as large as any town of the state other than old centers of Savannah and Augusta, and the capital, Milledgeville. Large areas of the state remained in the hands of the Creek and Cherokee Indians. Atlanta did not even exist.
Clinton remained one of Georgia’s leading towns until the 1830s, when the westward migration and competition from nearby Macon on the fall line of the Ocmulgee River first seriously affected Clinton’s vitality. A decline began which became so severe that by 1888 only one store was left. A railroad had bypassed the town in the 1870’s, and in 1905 the citizens of the county voted overwhelmingly to move the county seat to nearby Gray, on the railroad.
The demise of Clinton as a commercial center and its slow deterioration even as a residential community have left it with a unique quality in the late twentieth century. To an unusual degree it maintains the ambience of an early nineteenth century American town. The early houses set on the original streets in a setting of open land form a unique Georgia landscape. The Old Clinton Historical District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and evaluated by the Historic Preservation Section of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources as having national significance.”
Elizabeth Slatter Bunkley/Billingslea/Lowther
Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Records:
Various Historic Buildings and Homes in Clinton, Jones, GA