NOTE: All houses are private residences.
Bartow is on the National Register of historic places. Virtually every structure within the town limits is included in the historic district. Begin your tour at Heritage Park, which is just off Highway 221 between Church Street and Railroad Avenue. Stops 1 through 3 will be visible from the Park.
1. HERITAGE PARK between Railroad Avenue and Church Street.
Originally the little park was an open square with a well house that covered an artesian well, and the well's overflow filled a circular horse trough. The trough became an ornamental pool when the square was transformed into a park in 1976 to celebrate the U.S. Bi-Centennial. At that time, the present gazebo was constructed over the foundation of the original well house, and the area was landscaped.
2. STOP #11 DEPOT 7844 Church Street, c. 1859.
During the late 1840's and early 1850's, tracks were laid from Atlanta to Savannah by the Central of Georgia Railroad. Those tracks constituted the longest single stretch of rails in the country at that time. The Caboose beside the depot is a gift to the town from Norfolk Southern, the current owners of the line. During the first 30 years of the 20th Century, Bartow was the major freight stop between Macon and Savannah.
3. BUSINESS DISTRICT Railroad Avenue and Church Street, c. 1890 - 1920
The two rows of buildings facing Heritage Park were constructed between 1880 and 1920. Some replaced much older wooden buildings, which were destroyed by a severe 1918 fire that ravaged buildings along Railroad Avenue. Today, the major buildings are still distinguished by brick corbeling at their tops, recessed front doors, and occasional marble details. Note the quality of the brickwork, which is the handiwork of highly skilled craftsmen.
Continue your tour by heading north on Church Street.
4. BARTOW METHODIST CHURCH 7688 Church Street, c. 1880.
Shortly after the church was organized in 1879, this structure was built roughly one-and-a-half miles from its present site. In 1900, the building was rolled on logs and pulled by teams of horses and mules to where it now stands. The trip involved floating the sanctuary across Williamson Swamp Creek, then continuing the rolling process until the building reached its present site. Each day at 9 AM, noon, and 5 PM, the church's chimes serenade the town.
5. BARTOW BAPTIST CHURCH 7634 Church Street, c. 1926.
This Modern Gothic brick structure replaced the congregation's second church, which stood on this site and had a lapboard exterior. The congregation was organized in 1881 and originally held services in a building located roughly a mile south of the town. The original building served both as a church and as a school. During the week, the building's auditorium was the classroom of one teacher; the stage was the classroom of the other teacher.
6. BARTOW CEMETERY corner of Church Street and Academy Drive, c. 1850.
The picturesque resting-place of the town's founders features stately cedars that were brought to Bartow from Lebanon by a local lady who served as a missionary in the Middle East. Nearby the grave of an unknown Union soldier you will find the joint grave of Confederate soldiers John F. Spier and Dr. William A. Spier, brothers who died respectively at the Second Battle of Manassas, August 30, 1862 and the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863. The brothers were the sons of the town's founder, James Spier. William was a highly respected physician, educated in Edinburgh, Scotland. Unlike his brother, he did not die on the battle field; William was killed by a stray mortar during his inspection of a field hospital. A loyal servant who had served by William's side, exhumed John's body and brought the remains of both brothers from Virginia, via horse-drawn cart. Many of the markers tell brief and often poignant histories of the men, women, and children whom they honor. In 1934, Mr. George Archer built the handsome stone wall that surrounds the cemetery.
5. EVANS-MINOR HOUSE 7538 Church Street, c. 1900.
Originally a foursquare, lapboard cottage, this was the childhood home of Roy Evans, pioneer of World War II's famous jeep and owner of the Bantam Car Company (formerly the American Austin Automobile Company). Mr. Evans' resting-place is in the nearby cemetery.
6. RESIDENCES OF NOTE 1850s 1920s
Continue up Church Street to the town limits and enjoy a mix of architecture, featuring ante-bellum, Greek Revival, Victorian, and Craftsman houses.
When you reach the town limits, turn around and return to the Bartow Cemetery. At the far corner of the Cemetery, turn left onto Academy Circle.
7. BARTOW COMMUNITY CLUB 1138 Academy Circle, 1946
The first building on this site was the home of James Spier, the man for whom the town was originally named. The present structure is the third of three school buildings to stand on this site. The present building now serves as the Bartow Community Center.
Continue to the end of Academy Circle, then turn right onto Highway 221. After one block, turn right onto Spier Street.
NOTE: The cotton gin (to your left as you turn) is one of the oldest operating gins in the U.S.
8. MORE RESIDENCES OF NOTE 1860s 1920s
After you reach the end of Spier Street, you may wish to take a short drive to The Cedars, a house that was originally to be the showplace of the area. The owners had acquired a gifted slave architect who created grand plans for the house and began its construction. However, the architect ran away, leaving the house unfinished. The family abandoned their elaborate plans but continued work on the house, which was still incomplete when General Sherman and his troops stopped there on their March to the Sea. To complete even its simplified form involved the children of the family, having to sift the dirt beneath the house in order to locate enough salvageable nails to finish the project. The road directly across from the house is the route General Sherman took, as he traveled from Sandersville toward Savannah. A portion of his troops continued into Bartow to destroy train rails and burn cotton and other goods they could not take with them.
To reach The Cedars, take Highway 221 South. Immediately after crossing the Williamson Swamp Creek Bridge, turn right onto Highway 242. Travel 1.2 miles to The Cedars, which is located at 20359 Highway 242. Please remember that all houses are privately owned and opened only on announced tour dates.