Yesterday and Today
The Past Comes Alive in Charming Statesboro
by Muriel Vega
Located in South Georgia, approximately 45 miles from Savannahand three hours from Atlanta, Statesboro is an alluring mixture of young and old. The only city to bear its name in the United States, it's a vibrant center of art and culture. Steeped in tradition with the energy of a college town, it offers a great, budget-friendly getaway brimming with history and a strong dose of Southern charm.
Gateway to History
Statesboro's historical ties run deep. Incorporated in 1803, it's also home to Georgia Southern University, which was founded in 1906. More than 80 years ago, blues musician Blind Willie McTell sang "Statesboro Blues" on the steps of the Jaeckel Hotel; the song was later made famous by the Allman Brothers. Today, the peaceful path that bears his name, the Blind Willie McTell Trail, offers a relaxing stroll through 7,415 square yards of manicured park lawns, picnic tables and original artwork created by university students. The trail runs from downtown's Triangle Park to the university campus, allowing visitors to wander and enjoy the scenery without using city streets.
The aforementioned Jaeckel Hotel has its own stories to tell. Opened in 1905, it played host to such luminaries as Henry Ford and William Jennings Bryan. Today, the building serves as Statesboro's City Hall. On the lawn in front, a historical marker commemorates Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's brief stop in Statesboro during his infamous "march to the sea."
Visitors can look even further into the past at the Georgia Southern University Museum. The Hall of Natural History showcases a 78-million-year-old Mosasaur fossil skeleton, a 42-million-year-old whale skeleton, a mastodon skull and other wonders. A second gallery rotates exhibits such as a look at the archaeology of a Civil War prison camp.
Arts and Attractions
Looking for relaxation and recreation? Mill Creek Regional Park is a beautiful, sprawling 155-acre hub of activity, with more than 300 hardwood trees and a bounty of baseball, softball, soccer and football fields, two playgrounds and a 1.25-mile walking trail. www.bullochrec.com. The park is also home to Splash in the Boro, an extensive water park with water slides, a “river” for tubing, pools, areas for boogie-boarding and mat racing, children’s activities and a “Winter Dome” that offers swimming lessons, lap swimming and more.
Observe eagles, pythons, reptiles and many other species up close at the Georgia Southern University Wildlife Education Center. Stretching across more than five acres, the center boasts a number of animal habitats and exhibits, self-guided nature walks and an amphitheater, among other features, as well as a 12-acre wetlands preserve.
Nearby, the Georgia Southern Botanical Garden offers nearly 11 acres of natural beauty, including native plants, a children’s vegetable garden and walking trails.
For the performing arts, look no further than the Averitt Center for the Arts, housed in two beautiful architectural landmarks—the former Bank of Statesboro, which closed its doors in 1932, and the onetime Georgia Theater, a movie house dating back to 1936. With three different galleries and juried exhibitions, the bustling center presents artist shows, touring productions of Broadway shows and other events throughout the year.
Downtown Main Street is home to local businesses and restaurants, as well as the Statesboro Farmers Market from April through November. Stop by Sugar Magnolia Bakery for some brunch on the weekends, including homemade biscuits and challah French toast.
For dinner, the Beaver House Restaurant is a good choice and a local favorite. Located in an historic home attached to the distinctly Southern Beaver House Inn downtown, it serves a traditional Sunday dinner twice daily—and is reportedly haunted by friendly spirits.
Where to Stay
Statesboro offers a variety of both historic bed and breakfasts and budget-friendly inns. Georgia’s Bed and Breakfast exudes the perfect blend of Southern Hospitality and elegance: Wake up in one of its four individually decorated guest rooms (all with private baths) to the delightful aromas of a complimentary home-cooked breakfast.
The Historic Statesboro Inn and Restaurant features two late 19th-century homes, the Main Raines House and the Brannen House, both on the National Registry of Historic Places and modernized with free Wi-Fi and other conveniences.
With or without its unique name, there’s no other city like Statesboro in all of Georgia … or anywhere else. Brimming with historical details while rooted firmly in the present, it offers so much to see, do and experience that you’ll never find yourself singing the blues.
PLANNING YOUR VISIT
Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau
Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport
American Eagle, Delta, United Airlines and US Airways
Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport