Locust Grove, Georgia

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Locust Grove is a city in Henry County, Georgia, United States. The population was 2,322 at the 2000 census. Census Estimates for 2005 show a population of 3,434. Some unincorporated communities such as Luella and many rural areas surround Locust Grove and addresses in those communities have Locust Grove postal addresses.

The City of Locust Grove derived its name from a beautiful grove of locust trees that could be seen throughout the town. This tranquil Henry County community is a place for combining tradition with change. Locust Grove was a major rail distribution center for cotton, peaches, and other farm products. The city had three cotton gins and several warehouses. In 1870, the first store was built on Main StreCity of Locust Grove. Since that time many new businesses have made Locust Grove their home.

In 1893, the town was incorporated and the papers were officially signed on December 20, 1893. The original city limits extended mile in every direction from the train depot in the heart of town. The city government consisted of one mayor and five council members. The first to fill these positions were appointed until elections could take place. The first mayor was M.P. Sowell. Those appointed to the first city council were: G.P. Combs, C.M. Mahone, J.L. Garnder, R.C. Brown, and W.H. Peek. The first city clerk was C. W. Williams.

The first ordinance passed by the city council restricted the speed of the trains to 15 miles per hour. There were questions on how to enforce this because the city did not have a police department at that time, but the railroad was notified. The town was reincorporated in 1922 and a new charter was established.

One of Henry County’s most important landmark buildings is the Locust Grove Institute (LGI), founded by The Locust Grove Baptist Church and Mercer University. In 1894, the first building of the Institute was erected and the school opened its doors on November 1, 1894 with thirteen students and two instructors. By the end of the school year, eighty-five students had been enrolled. LGI grew rapidly and several houses in the community, such as the Combs-McKnight-Morfoot House were used as boarding housing to help accommodate the growing student population. Locust Grove Institute served a very important purpose and was one of the first schools in Georgia to be accredited by the Association of Schools and Colleges of the Southern States. The curriculum stressed learning in all facets of life, The academic building was constructed in 1904 for a total cost of $14,000.00. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1906. In 1918, LGI began a military training program for its students. In 1919, the Institute transferred all property titles to the Georgia Baptist Convention.

The Great Depression and the introduction of public schools in Henry County led to the demise of The Locust Grove Institute in May 1930. The school remained empty until 1936 when the academic building served as a public elementary school for the city. In 1983, the City of Locust Grove purchased the building. Numerous renovations were made and the structure was restored, modifying the interior to house the various City Government offices, presently known as the Locust Grove Municipal Complex. This building was entered on the National Register of Historic Places on September 4, 1986.

Locust Grove has experienced a growth in population and in businesses coming into the area. In 1900 the population of the city was 254 and is now well over 4,000 within the city limits alone.

Tanger Outlet Center opened for business in the fall of 1994 in Locust Grove. Since that time many new businesses have made Locust Grove their home. Tanger Outlet Center tenants include Coach, J. Crew, Jones New York, Liz Claiborne, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Pac Sun, Polo Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Aeropostale, Jockey, Eddie Bauer, Nike and more.

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