On a cold Christmas Eve in 1821, the Georgia Assembly officially formed Newton County. Named in honor of Sargent John Newton, a Revolutionary War soldier, the county was created from parts carved out of Henry, Walton and Jasper counties. The first settlers in the area established homes to the east and created a town they called Winston, Georgia. They began to build homes and a community soon followed. At the center of this burgeoning city, was the Brick Store.
Built in 1821, the Brick Store served as a focus point for Newton County. Built entirely from locally made bricks, the building used architectural details to mimic those found in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Ben Carter, architect for Carter Watkins Associates, Inc. found that the gutter-like systems and evidence of scaffolding building were not commonly seen in Georgia at the time, but specifically in Williamsburg. The very brick that forms the building was fired in a wood-burning kiln and sealed with lint seed oil. And the joints were penciled in by hand and given a lot of attention to detail, all to mimic buildings in New York, explains Carter in this detailed video.
The Brick Store was originally created as a general store and schoolhouse for the citizens of Winston. In fact, the original well and wellhouse still exist on the property today. Newton County was a leader among school systems, having been the first to transition from a communal drinking bucket to individual dixie cups, as well as implementing the first horse-drawn wagon bus system. The photo shown here was taken of a class outside of Brick Store School in 1912.
The Brick Store then evolved to become a stopping point for major stagecoach routes. The store was the ideal location for this stopping point because of its proximity to old Creek Indian trading paths that had been long established and well known in the area. The community of Winston flourished and was renamed several times as the community grew (we kind of wish they’d kept the name Sun Up, Georgia) and the Brick Store would be revamped as well. Throughout its history the general store would become a post office, a private residence, a school house, a jail, and even a courtroom. In fact, the first session of the Newton County Superior Court was held at the Brick Store on April 15, 1822.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places (almost 190 years later) on April 9, 2009. The historic site includes a tablet from 1933 commemorating the Stage Coach Crossroads, a plaque commemorating the building's donation by Charles M. Jordan to the Newton County Historical Society in 1971, and a plaque from the landmarks commission dated 1990.
Today the historic Brick Store – the oldest brick building in Newton County – is all that remains of the site on Highway 278, east of the city of Covington. Though store and the well are the only structures left of the site, the area is appropriately nicknamed Brick Store to perpetuate its name and history. Though you cannot enter the Brick Store for a tour, you can easily stop and see the beautifully preserved building when driving by.