Americus History Trails
Published 8:19 am Wednesday, April 20, 2022
By: Evan A. Kutzler
On Saturday, April 23, 2022, at 10:00 a.m., the Sumter Historic Trust will unveil the “Americus History Trails,” at the Lee Council House at 318 E. Church Street. The Americus History Trails consist of three digital tours that can be accessed through smartphone, computer, or another device that connects to the internet. Participants at this preview event will have early access to the tours, instructions on how to use them, and have the chance to offer feedback before they are formally released in June 2022. The event is free and open to the public.
Americus History Trails, an initiative started by the Sumter Historic Trust and supported by a Georgia Humanities Grant, aspires to make the city’s rich and complex history more accessible to residents and visitors. The three tours—a postcard tour, a civil rights tour, and an architecture tour—begin and different “trailheads” and vary in length and walkability.
The “Postcard Tour” begins at Sweet Georgia Baking Company at the corner of Lamar and Jackson and moves in a counterclockwise direction to Lee, Forsyth, and Cotton. It offers an overview of the city’s developmental and commercial history through early twentieth century colorized postcards. The images offer an immediate “then and now” look at the city’s streets, building, and people. The tour is approximately .5 miles in length and takes about thirty minutes to complete.
Corner of Lamar and Lee Streets, ca. 1905.
The second trail, “Hold On, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” takes participants on a tour through Americus during the civil rights era. Beginning at the Old Colored Hospital on Wild Street, this tour takes a winding path through the city to the county courthouse and back. It uses not only text but also photographs, images, and videos from the 1960s to immerse participants in the faces, voices, and songs of young and old protesters who freed this city from separate and unequal segregation. This tour is approximately 2 miles and takes about an hour and a half to complete.
The third trail, “Off the Beaten Path Architecture and History,” looks at the wide variety of Americus buildings over the last 150 years beginning at the SAM Shortline Excursion Train depot on Jackson Street. While it includes some public buildings, this trail focuses on residential building types and styles from the small, two-room saddlebag house to the massive Queen Anne house and from Greek Revival to the craftsman styles. The longest trail with twenty stops, this is the only tour of the three that was not intended to be walked, followed in sequential order, or finished at the same time. This tour aspires to provoke conversation about what makes a place historic. Is it the architecture? Is it about who lived there? Is it about specific events or broad patterns in our shared past?
The Sumter Historic Trust, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Sumter County history, has been working on these tours since the spring of 2021. Come to the event for more information, or contact Amanda Kutzler at firstname.lastname@example.org.