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Dec 02

The Destination

Posted on December 2, 2020 at 1:55 PM by Allison Duncan

What made Lithia Springs a destination? In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the area was one of many springs oriented resorts that attracted visitors for rest and rehabilitation. But the area had more to offer.  Like the hotel, some attractions exist now only as photographs.  But others still attract visitors today.

The Piedmont Chatauqua, 1886

Piedmont Chatauqua from C. Davis
This image of the buildings of the Piedmont Chatauqua was shared by a community member.  The Chatauqua was a short-lived experience in personal improvement.  Popularized by similar events in other parts of the country, the Piedmont Chatauqua brought the thought leaders and educators of the day to host a series of lectures and activities geared toward intellectual pursuits and self improvement.  A map of Historic Douglas County, Georgia identifies that Chatauqua grounds as located between N. County Line Road and Baker Road, though structures from its short-lived tenure have long since been demolished. The Kindergarten School House, identified in an earlier post, is one of the last extant structures with a direct tie to the Chatauqua.

Factory Shoals Park

Known today as Sweetwater Creek State Park, this area had been a destination for locals and travelers for many years before acquired by the State of Georgia in 1972.  In 1963, the Atlanta Region Metropolitan Planning Commission prepared its Nature Preserve Plan in anticipation of the need for urban greenspace.  This plan proposed for the acquisition of 1,775 acres at an average cost of $250 per acre, or $443,750. In 1972, the State acquired 867 acres for a cost of $1 million.

Regional Nature Preserves Plan

Frog Rock and the Lithia Springs Botting Company

Multiple companies between Austell and Lithia Springs took advantage of the natural springs in the area.  Water was bottled and shipped from local companies, as well as served locally in places, such as the Sweetwater Park Hotel.  Frog Rock is a landmark at the site of today’s Lithia Spring Water company that visitors from the 19th century would recognize today.

Louise Suggs and the Lithia Springs Golf Course

The Lithia Springs Golf Course was established in the 1930s by Johnny Suggs and R.J. Spiller.  It was located at the intersection of today’s Thornton Road and Highway 78. Louise Suggs was the daughter of Johnny Suggs, and she learned the game of golf from her father at his Lithia Springs Golf Course.  Louise would go on to a successful career as a professional golfer, including as one of the founding members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).  The location of the golf course is identified in this USGS Topographic Map from 1954, and the shadow of the golf holes is still visible on a 1968 regional aerial image.

USGS Topo Map_Austell Quad_1954_1968 revisions_University of Georgia Map Library

Aerial Image of US 78 and SR 6_Thomas Lowe Assoc_1968_University of Georgia Map Library

The decline of the hotel era did not signal the end of Lithia Springs as a destination. In short order, the Bankhead Highway would pick up where the hotel left off, and it will carry the area through the 20th century.

Special thanks to Cheri Davis for the images of the Chatauqua. 


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