Green Street District

Gainesville City, Hall County, GA

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Pruitt-Wheeler-McBrayer House

Photo: Pruitt-Wheeler-McBrayer House, circa 1909, 539 Green Street, in the Green Street Historic District, Gainesville.. The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Photograph by David Kaminsky, 1974, for the nomination document, accessed January, 2024.

The Green Street District [†] of Gainesville is outstanding architecturally as a group of Victorian and Neo-Classical/Revival houses dating from the turn of the century, and historically as a statement of the prosperity of the agriculture and mining industries in the Gainesville area.

The village of Gainesville was created by Legislative Act in 1821 and was named for Gen. Edmond P. Gaines. That same year, a site was selected, fifty acres of Lot 148, 9th District, Hall Co. This location was just northwest of a group of springs, a stopping place for Indians and wandering white traders that had been known as Mule Camp Springs.

The town site was surveyed later that year. Seventy-four lots and ten streets were shown on the plat and a public square was reserved on a level area in the northwest quadrant of the town. Lots were offered for sale by the town fathers but it was 1824 before the first sales were recorded.

For the first seven years of its existence there was little activity. Many town lots remained unsold. Then, in 1828, gold was found in the region and miners, merchants and professional men moved in. Gainesville became the trading center for the gold mines and taverns, stores and offices were erected around the square. In 1829, it was reported that there were 31 dwellings and over fifteen commercial buildings in the village. Unfortunately, after a very few years, the gold rush subsided and many of the business and professional men left as suddenly as they had appeared. One notable exception was Dr. Richard Banks. He invested in Gainesville property and stayed to become one of the town's leading citizens. None of the buildings erected during this boom period have survived.

Most of the business of the miners was lost to the new towns; Dahlonega for example, in the former Cherokee Nation. Gainesville grew but little between the 1830 f s and the end of the Civil War. Stores and taverns remained around the square. Although the records are vague, there was some residential building along the main roads leading away from the village. These were the Athens road, the road to Murrayville and the mines (now Green St.) and the Lawrenceville road.

After 1870, the first railroad reached the town and the pattern of growth changed. The rails greatly stimulated business and the town was soon a prosperous cotton market. There was much building between the square and the railroad station. At first, this was a mix, residential and commercial but before many years the shops and warehouses predominated and the more prosperous residents looked elsewhere for residential sites.

It was inevitable that Green Street then became the prime residential district. The street was elevated above the business area, was level for a considerable distance and much of it was well wooded. Since the founding of the town, it had been an important road, as a stage coach and freight route to the mining regions and, locally, a pleasant way to the Town Spring, by this time the resort of Gower's Spring. Beginning about 1880, many fine homes were built along this street. For over fifty years it was known to visitors as one of the outstanding residential neighborhoods in Northeast Georgia.

Architecturally, Green Street has one of the finest relatively untouched group examples of Neo-classical architecture in north Georgia. As are many older urban areas, Green Street is struggling against the rapid sprawl of commercial development and in need of the prestige and protection of the National Register.

Adapted from: Elizabeth Macgregor, Architectural Historian, Historic Preservation Section, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Green Street District, nomination document, 1974, National Register of Historic Places. Washington, D.C.

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