Willacoochee, Georgia

Willacoochee GA Atkinson County Downtown Storefronts Fleetwood Avenue Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

These two slightly different perspectives of Fleetwood Avenue show the commercial heart of what was once a thriving town. Though Willacoochee is still an active community, its historic business and residential core was divided and forever altered by the widening of U. S. Highway 82. Still, it has great residential and commercial areas and I hope it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the future.

Willacoochee GA Atkinson County Historic Storefronts Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Here are some poignant thoughts about Willacoochee from the late Cranford Sutton, a native son and longtime local educator: When I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, it was pretty self-contained, the center of the universe. We had two train lines running through here…twenty-four hours a day. Our downtown storefronts were the old-fashioned brick fronts with plate-glass windows that turned inward, inviting you in the door…I would park the pickup truck downtown at two o’clock on Saturday afternoon just to have a parking place on the front street, because by dark everyone from the surrounding countryside had come in to buy their groceries and visit. It was a huge gathering

Highway Corridor Z (U. S. Highway 82, ed.), as they call it, goes from Columbus, Georgia…to Saint Marys, Georgia…This four-lane highway came through all these small towns and destroyed their serenity and safety…All the problems now faced by Willacoochee and other small towns along Corridor Z could have been prevented if our city, county and state officials back in the 1970s had possessed wisdom and foresight.

I see in the future a revival of these wonderful small towns. I envision an exodus from the sprawl of today’s traffic-choked cities to places like Willacoochee, where walking or biking to the post office, to the grocery store, and to visit others is safe and revitalizing…

I also agree with him on that. Willacoochee truly is one of the most attractive small towns in South Georgia and has a lot of undiscovered potential. Locals know how great it is, but the outside world would be wise to take a look for themselves. I’d really like to see the community work to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Willacoochee was founded in 1889. Originally known as Danielsville, for a pioneer family in the area, its current name in honor of the river running to its west is thought to be a Native American term for “home of the wildcat”. It’s also home to the No Name Bar, made famous in the essay by Lewis Grizzard. The original bar has been replaced by a more modern structure, but remains a popular watering hole and music venue.

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12 Comments

Filed under --ATKINSON COUNTY GA--, Willacoochee GA

12 responses to “Willacoochee, Georgia

  1. Robert Darrell Futch

    Was borned in Willacoochee in 1932 and remember those Saturday afternoons in town. Moved in 1940s but went back to visit often.

  2. Pat Greene Albert

    When I lived in ‘coochee, back in the 50’s if my mother need a couple of things from the grocery store, I would ride my horse to the back of the store, tie her up and walk in the back door. Great place to live! And a killer girls’ basketball team.

  3. Some one needs to update this. I have lived in Willacoochee for two to three years and have never seen the NO NAME BAR open.

  4. Julia Wingate

    Amos Wingate is our uncle..

    • Johnnie C. Kirkland

      I knew the wingate”s from LAX ,two wingate stores and Joe dills store in the 40s 50s I attended willacoochee high school: miss those days’

      • Julia Wingate

        lol! yes from Lax. my husband Waldo Frederick Wingate Jr. took me there.. and we went to Grandmother Wingate’s funeral in Lax.. at the church.. Nice to meet you! 🙂

  5. Karen Dees

    Thanks Carrol Myers – Corridor Z does end at Brunswick !

  6. Carol joiner

    My dad, Buddy Joiner, was born there. He always talks about going downtown on Saturdays. He and his older sister would either ride in the wagon or run along side it. He said his dad would give them a quarter. He would go to the movie watch the same movie all day long buy a coke and a bag of popcorn on that quarter. Those were the days he always say.

  7. Just discovered this excellent site. Keep it up. I blog about restoring Main Street USA to vibrancy. You should also check out Strong Towns.org if you haven’t, it will strike a chord.

  8. Christine Joiner

    I loved the walk back in time through Willacoochee. My husband was born there and I have heard so many wonderful things about that little town. His family moved to Massachusetts when he was about 4 but they returned every summer to visit relatives. Lots of great memories for him including the Saturday nights in downtown! Christine Joiner Webster, Massachusetts

  9. Carrol C Myers

    Hwy 82 does not go to St Mary’s Ga. Its eastern terminus is Brunswick.

    • I thought so, Carol. Perhaps when it was originally planned they had hoped for it to go all the way to St. Marys. Mr. Sutton was a meticulous researcher and very involved in the protests against the highway breaking up the small towns, so he may have just not revised this information as it evolved.

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