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Wilkes County



Courthouse
County Courthouse View large image

Source: David Seibert

LocationWashington
Date Built1904
Architecture StyleRichardsonian Romanesque influence
DesignerFrank P. Milburn
Seat InformationAn act of Feb. 26, 1784 designated the town of Washington as county seat of Wilkes County. In 1793, the legislature named commissioners with authority to choose a new site for the county courthouse -- but evidently they decided not to make a change. When the town was laid out in 1780, local officials named it Washington in honor of Gen. George Washington, hero of the American Revolution. Washington, reportedly the first city in America named for George Washington, was incorporated in 1805.
Courthouse DetailsAccording to Jordan and Puster, Wilkes County's first courthouse was constructed in 1785. Remarkably, it served until the current building was completed in 1904. The new courthouse was built with arches over doors and windows, and an ornate clock tower. In 1958, the courthouse's roof and tower were destroyed by a fire. Subsequently, much of the damage was repaired, though the courthouse no longer had its distinctive tower and roof. In 1989, as part of an effort to restore the courthouse to its pre-1958 appearance, a new tower (although not as tall as the original) and roof were built. Also in 1989, a rear addition to the courthouse was constructed.
County Data
Population10,593
Population 200010, 687
Population Growth0.8
County SeatWashington
County Area474.0 Square Miles
Location MapWilkes County Location Map
History

Wilkes County was established by Georgia’s first state constitution, the Constitution of 1777, which became effective Feb. 5, 1777. Because Wilkes is the first county in the list of eight counties created by Art. IV of that document, it is considered Georgia’s first county. Unlike the other seven counties (which were fashioned from existing colonial parishes), Wilkes was created from the “ceded lands north of Ogechee”, a reference to the land ceded in 1773 by the Creeks and Cherokees in their respective Treaties of Augusta

Wilkes County was named for British politician John Wilkes, who supported the cause of the American colonies’ cause in the House of Commons.   

Between 1790 and 1854, the legislature took land from Wilkes County to form Elbert County (1790), Oglethorpe County (1793), and Lincoln County (1796), and to help form Warren County (1793) and Taliaferro County (1825). 

County Seat: An act of Feb. 26, 1784 designated the town of Washington as county seat of Wilkes County. In 1793, the legislature named commissioners with authority to choose a new site for the county courthouse but evidently they decided not to make a change. When the town was laid out in 1780, local officials named it Washington in honor of Gen. George Washington, hero of the American Revolution. Washington, reportedly the first city in America named for George Washington, was incorporated in 1805.

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Historical Population
YearPopulation
2010 10,593
2000 10,687
1990 10,597
1980 10,951
1970 10,184
1960 10,961
1950 12,388
1940 15,084
1930 15,944
1920 24,210
1910 23,441
1900 20,866
1890 18,081
1880 15,985
1870 11,796
1860 11,420
1850 12,107
1840 10,148
1830 14,237
1820 17,606
1810 14,887
1800 13,103
1790 13,500