The History of the Town of Mt. Airy, Georgia:
WELCOME TO THE TOWN OF MOUNT AIRY, GEORGIA
“HOME OF CLEAR AIR-AND CLEAR MOUNTAINS”
Mount Airy was established in 1874 when a station on the Richmond and Danville railroad was built at the highest elevation between New Orleans and New York. Founded and developed by Colonel M.C. Wilcox, a railroad promoter who moved here from Knoxville TN. The site overlooked the whole range of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeast Georgia. Located in Habersham County, the community was named for its elevation of 1,545 feet.
Known for years as an exclusive resort town, summer homes, tourist cottages, and hotels were built during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s to provide lodging for visitors. Two of the hotels that served tourists were the Mount Airy Hotel, built by Colonel Wilcox in 1886, and the Monterey Hotel, built by the Gresham brothers of Virginia in 1902. The three·story, 150·room, 50·bath Monterey Hotel was destroyed by fire, rebuilt in 1907, then destroyed by fire again several years later. The Town Hall and Post Office are now located on the site where the hotel stood. The town also boasted thriving businesses. General mercantile stores, Parker’s Soda and Sundry, the Bank of Mount Airy, and commercial peach orchards.
In 1877 the establishment of a Swiss Colony under the leadership of Mr. J. Staub, and 1878, the first school. Forest Lodge a sanitarium run by Dr. Sidney J. Lanier was purchased in 1905 by Colonel John P. Fort and converted into his private residence, now referred to as Mountain Hall.
Due to the decrease in train travel and the burning of the Monterey Hotel, tourism began to decline in the 1920’s. Today the echoes of the past may be found in the residences and other buildings that remain from its heyday as an exclusive resort town.
Mount Airy Baptist Church-was established in 1874. Its first location was on Fourth Street before moving to its present location, on Grandview Ave. The present church was rebuilt after a fire destroyed the beautiful wood structure in 1957 and remodeled again in 1984. A Gazebo Memorial was constructed as a dedication to those who died when their plane crashed at the site in 1984.
Ebenezer Baptist Church-was established in 1890 as the First Missionary Colored Baptist Church was a center for workshop and a school for educating Black people. Ebenezer stands as a pinnacle ministering to the whole person, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Mount Airy Presbyterian Church, completed in 1907, housing beautiful Baroque pump organ which is still in use.
Seven Heaven House, Greek revival built prior to 1879 by Savannah attorney, Alexander Rudolph Lawton. Ty Cobb lived in the house in the late 50’s. The 11 rooms, eight fireplaces, balconies, and porches provide spacious living and was registered on the Historical Registar in 2009.
Mount Airy School, a three story brick structure was built in 1921. Electricity was added in 1925, a lunchroom, indoor toilets and drinking fountains in 1946. The upper level auditorium was the entertainment center for the area used for weekly chapel and school programs. Touring shows also appeared on the stage, including stars from the Grand Ole Opry. Closed in 1955 the building is now used for business rental.
Eastview Cemetery, with gravestones dating from the 1800’s. The cemetery offers a beautiful mountain view of Currahee Mountain to the East beyond the Lake Russell wildlife Management Area.
Mount Airy hosts a number of events, including annual Cities Day celebration in the Spring. The town comes alive with cars, arts & crafts, parade, and other entertainment.
Mountains of Mt. Airy, Georgia
The latitude of Mount Airy is 34.518N. The longitude is -83.5W.
It is in the Eastern Standard time zone. Elevation is 1,560 feet.
Population in 2012: 1282
March 2012 cost of living index in Mount Airy: 80.5 (low, U.S. average is 100)
United States (4.7%), English (14.1%), Irish (11.4%), German (9.7%), Welsh (3.5%), French (2.9%).
Land area: 1.87 square miles.
Population density: 686 people per square mile (low)
Lake Russell, Mt. Airy, Georgia