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.
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 The original bar has been replaced by a more modern structure, but remains a popular watering hole and music venue.