Category Archives: Lakeland GA

Banks Lake, Lanier County

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Banks Lake is a natural blackwater lake characterized by shallow water and cypress trees. Located just east of Lakeland, it was owned for much of the 2oth century by the family of Governor Ed Rivers.

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Joshua Lee operated a grist mill here in the mid-1800s. When he dammed the Carolina bay  on his property, the lake was created.

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Unsubstantiated sources suggest that Governor Ed Rivers’ family attempted to develop the area in the 1920s and that his estate threatened to drain and log the lake in the 1970s, but regardless, the property was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 1980, assuring its preservation. In 1985, the Conservancy sold the lake to the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, who redesignated it Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

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With around 20,000 visitors per year, Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of the least crowded parks in the system. It almost feels like a roadside park because, effectively, it is. There are docks and a short boardwalk and an outfitter on site. A gentleman I met on the dock told me that fishermen tie strips of cloth to trees to find their way around. It’s apparently quite thick with cypress.

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Banks Lake is part of the Grand Bay-Banks Lake ecosystem, the second largest freshwater wetland in Georgia, after the Okefenokee Swamp.

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The refuge, managed by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, does not have on-site staff. Fishing is allowed, for those with valid licenses.

Lanier County Ga Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2016

For information on this natural wonder of Georgia, please visit the refuge website.

 

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Governor E. D. Rivers House, 1940, Lakeland

governor e d rivers house lakeland ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

If you’ve ever driven west on Georgia Highway 37 to Lakeland, chances are you’ve passed by this house and not even noticed it. It was the longtime home of Governor E. D. “Ed” Rivers (1895-1967). From the historical marker placed in 2002 by The Georgia Historical Society, et al: Eurith Dickinson Rivers was governor of Georgia from 1937 to 1941. He actively supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt´s New Deal Program. Rivers´ innovative leadership produced Georgia’s first Department of Public Welfare, free school books, the State Highway Patrol, and modernization of the state highway system. Born in Arkansas, Rivers married Lucile Lashley in 1914 and moved with his family to Milltown (later Lakeland) in 1920 to practice law. He is buried in Lakeland. Built in 1940 on the shores of Banks lake, the ranch style house, designed by Frank Byrd, was relocated to this site in the early 1980s.

Governor Rivers met Miss Lashley while a student at Young Harris College and they were married in 1914. After earning a law degree from LaSalle Extension University in Illinois, the family moved to Cairo, where Rivers served as justice of the peace as well as Cairo City and Grady County Attorney. They then moved to (Milltown) Lakeland where Mr. Rivers became editor of the Lanier County News. Background on Rivers’s political history can be found here.

lakeland ga governor e d rivers house photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

The photo below was made on 22 December 1936 when Governor-elect Rivers was meeting with President Roosevelt about problems facing Georgia.

E D Rivers Georgia Governor 1936 Harris & Ewing Collection Library of CongressHarris & Ewing Collection, Courtesy Library of Congress.

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Lanier County Auditorium & Grammar School, 1925, Lakeland

lakeland ga schoolhouse photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

According to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form (1986): The Lanier County Auditorium and Grammar School is significant as an unusual and distinctive example…of eclectic early 20th century architecture. The compact, regular massing of the buildings, the use of brick, and details such as quoins, keystoned arches, and pedimented front entryways suggest traditional, institutional Georgian Revival architecture. However, these elements area handled in a free, non-traditional way that reflects a contemporary early 20th century design approach…These architectural characteristics result from the fact that the buildings were designed by Lloyd Greer (1885-1952) of nearby Valdosta, Georgia, a highly trained, versatile architect known for designing many other schools, public buildings, and private homes throughout the South Georgia and North Florida area.

The buildings are…the only remaining facilities associated with the county’s first consolidated school system. The county was created in 1920, the same  year the city and county schools began consolidation as part of a statewide movement toward consolidation. After this consolidation took effect, more school space was needed and thus these two buildings were built in 1925 to augment the existing Lanier County High School. The auditorium has served many county groups as a meeting space since it was the largest meeting space in the county. The loss by fire of the pre-existing Oaklawn Academy/Lanier County High School building in 1950 left these two structures as the only representatives of this early Lanier County educational effort.

National Register of Historic Places

 

 

 

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Gabled-Ell House, 1905, Lakeland

lakeland ga gabled ell house photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

 

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The Jones Hotel, 1906, Lakeland

The Jones Hotel Lakeland GA Photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

You can’t miss this landmark when you’re in Lakeland. It stands out in a town full of beautiful homes but it’s so lovingly maintained that it doesn’t feel imposing. Traci Jones writes The Victorian portion was built in 1906 and the back part in the mid 30s. My husband’s [Bob Jones] grandparents–featured in a mural on the Oak St. Side–ran it as a boarding house for 40 years., lovingly referred to as The Jones Hotel. In 1989 his parents remodeled and opened a bed and breakfast. We moved in three years ago and had some remodeling done by some local craftsmen. It serves as our residence, with plans in the future to reopen as a B& B.

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Banks Lake Mill House Mural, Lakeland

lakeland ga mural banks lake millhouse photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

One of dozens of murals situated throughout the city of Lakeland, this one depicts the mill house built around 1848-50 by William Lastinger.

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