The Unexpected Fire that Devastated the Covington Square

Our historic, little town has dealt with many obstacles, yet triumphed these challenges with strength and preservation. One such obstacle was on December 31st, 1883, when a majority of the Covington Square was burned down in a fiery blaze. Although, this story is tragic, we can learn a lot from our 19th century locals.


The fire began in a saloon on the square called, R.W. Bagby. An interesting historical note is that the building where the saloon then called home on the north side of the Covington Square, first started out as a grocery store! That we now can purchase wine and beer in our local grocery stores is a tad ironic…


When the fire of 1883 began, men rushed to the scene to quell its quick burning. However, since many of the buildings on the square were wooden, they were unable to put out the fire without an engine to aid them. They hurriedly threw heaping buckets of water onto the quickly burning building, but the fire was no match for their valiant efforts and it spread quicker than they could imagine. The whole block, including the historic courthouse, was engulfed. The Covington heroes worked all night to tame the flames, but when morning came, the entire block lay decimated and smoldering.


Though the original timber building that served as our courthouse was burned to the ground, town officials didn’t waste any time to commission a replacement. The square was essential to the needs of the community, so plans to rebuild it were quickly formed! The first historical record notes about the rebuilding were marked for January 7, 1884, only a week after the fire! (Talk about some quick rehabilitation.) Georgia architects Bruce & Morgan designed a Second Empire style courthouse in 1884 and construction began right away.


The reconstruction of the Courthouse began in August of 1884 and it is now the beautiful structure that you can visit in Covington, Georgia today. If you’re looking for a memorable slice of Georgia history, visit us in Covington where every building has its own unique and heroic story to tell.


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