Exhibit to feature county courthouses in Georgia

COVINGTON - An exhibit celebrating Georgia courthouses will be on display during the next six weeks at the Newton County Historic Courthouse.

"Georgia's Historic Courthouses: Celebrating a Living Legacy" will open to the public Thursday and run through July 24. Developed by the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the exhibit will focus on the architectural and historic significance of Georgia's courthouses.

"We created this exhibit to call attention to Georgia's unique collection of county courthouses because many of these landmark buildings are endangered," sad Historic Preservation Division Director Ray Luce. "Courthouses are so central to a community's quality of life and economic development that every effort should be made to ensure that they continue as an active part of their communities."

Georgia has one of America's greatest collections of county courthouses, with 133 listed in the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Historic Preservation Division. The exhibit features the photography of the division's staff photographer, James R. Lockhart, and historic images and copies of records from the state archives. It was designed by Avient Museum Services, the same firm that is handling the design of the Newton County History Center, to be located in the historic jail on Stallings Street.

Though the Newton County Historic Courthouse is not featured in the exhibit, Kathy Dixson of Avient Museum Services will create a Newton County panel to display during the event that will be permanently displayed in either the courthouse or the history center, according to the county's Special Projects Coordinator, Cheryl Delk.

"Courthouses are the hearts of our communities. Having this exhibit reminds us how lucky we are to have a community and government that values historic structures and sites, as witnessed by the SPLOST-funded rehabilitation of our courthouse," Delk said. "To quote Jack Pyburn, architect for our restoration, 'Courthouses constructed toward the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries were not just functional buildings, they were symbols of democracy, optimism for the future, a proud and energized community.'

"Anyone who has driven around Georgia has surely enjoyed making a trip by the small town squares and beautiful courthouses on the way. This exhibit points out the diversity and similarities of styles and architects."

The exhibit made its debut at the State Capitol in January 2006 and has been featured in communities throughout the state since then.

"Covington will be the last place it will be displayed," said Leigh Burns, community planning coordinator for the Historic Preservation Division.

The exhibit will be accessible through the main entrance of the courthouse on 1124 Clark St. Handicap accessible entrances are also available.

The exhibit is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.