LOUISVILLE, Ga. — The small Georgia hamlet of Louisville played an important role in the state’s history.
The city served as the state’s capital from 1794 or 1796 until about 1806. It was the state’s third capital, but its first permanent location.
In the center of town stands the Old Market, which was the hub of the city’s commerce and stood at the convergence of roads to Augusta, Savannah and Georgetown, according to a marker near the structure. Merchants would sell household goods, food and (sadly) slaves — a poignant reminder of antebellum Georgia.
“On market days, when the crowds gather from the surrounding plantations of Jefferson to shop in the village stores, when the circus comes to town or when the campaign orator improves the opportunity of court week to stir the echoes of the stump, it seems to wear something of the old time look and to be dreamily reminiscent of an interest which it once attracted,” Lucian Lamar Knight wrote in Georgia’s Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends (1913).
The remarkably preserved historic structure, according to most estimates, was probably built during the 1790s. For years, many historians thought the structure was built as early as 1758.
The bell hanging inside the Market House was cast in France in 1772. The bell was en route to New Orleans when the ship on which it was traveling was captured by pirates. The bell was later sold in Savannah before making its way to the state capitol in Louisville, where it served as a warning signal for the community.