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Date Built: 1920
Architectural Style: Neoclassical Revival
Designer: J.J. Baldwin
Other Information: Atkinson County government began functioning on Jan. 1, 1919. What building initially was used for court sessions is not known, but construction of a three-story brick courthouse was completed in 1920. Remodeled in the early 1980s, this courthouse still serves today.
County Courthouse Historical Marker: Click here
County History: On Aug. 15, 1917, the General Assembly proposed a constitutional amendment to create Atkinson County from the southern half of Coffee County and a small portion along the northern border of Clinch County (Ga. Laws 1917, p. 41) [Click here to view 1885 map showing future location of Atkinson County.] According to the constitutional amendment, the boundaries of Atkinson County were specified as:
Georgia voters ratified the constitutional amendment in the Nov. 5, 1918 general election, which is considered the date of Atkinson County's creation (although a state historical marker on the county courthouse grounds incorrectly cites the 1917 act proposing the constitutional amendment as the date of the county's creation). Georgia's 153rd county was named for former governor William Y. Atkinson (who served 1894-1898).
Why was Atkinson County created by constitutional amendment instead of an act of the General Assembly? In 1904, Georgia voters had approved a constitutional amendment limiting the number of counties in the state to 145. The next year, the General Assembly created eight new counties, bringing the total number to 145 -- the constitutional limit. Nevertheless, there was continuing pressure to create more counties. Beginning in 1906, lawmakers got around the 145-county limitation by creating new counties through constitutional amendments that were not subject to the limitation. By 1924, Georgia had 161 counties -- 16 of which had been created by constitutional amendment. On Jan. 1, 1932, Milton and Campbell counties merged with Fulton, leaving 159 counties. In 1945, Georgia voters ratified a new constitution -- one which provided an absolute limit of 159 counties, with an additional provision (see text) that no new country could be created except through consolidation of existing counties.
County Seat: The constitutional amendment creating Atkinson County designated that its county seat would be Pearson. When the Brunswick & Albany Railroad was built through the southern end of Coffee County in 1870-1871, a settlement grew up on the railroad. The rail station and village was named Pearson in honor of Benjah (Benejah) Pearson (1811-1885), an important Coffee County figure. On Dec. 27, 1890, the legislature incorporated Pearson (Ga. Laws 1890-91, Vol. II, p. 647).
Size of County (Total Area): 344.1 square miles
County Rank in Total Area: 82nd out of 159
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