Lawrenceville’s history begins with official incorporation on December 15th, 1821, which means the city was born exactly three years after Gwinnett County came into existence. Named after Captain James Lawrence, a renowned naval commander who received national fame at the time for his gutsy and stubborn defense of the country during the War of 1812. Lawrenceville is the oldest city in the greater metro Atlanta area and is the official county seat.
Following in the footsteps of the strong, stubborn, and old-school captain the city was named after, Lawrenceville thrived from the beginning with a strong combination of farmers, tradesman, and hard workers who took pride in building a strong community from the very beginning.
The location for Lawrenceville was chosen because there were several nearby springs, making it a desirable place for farmers, ranchers, and local industry. Unlike many towns that have grown and changed over the test of time, the original town square still remains the absolute beating heart of the downtown. A thriving downtown district, the city looks much different than the original town square with a courthouse at the center, a town square, and a lot of farming lots spreading out from there.
Today “Honest Alley” is a combination of business and retail complexes downtown built where 200 years ago mule buyers and sellers would make deals in good faith – hence the unique name to the historic market area.
Much of the history of this place was relatively quiet as a sleepy suburb quite a ways away from Atlanta, a community that still had a lot of smaller farms or plots of land and a comfortable existence as a sleeper community. Then the city of Atlanta boomed in the ’70s, ’80s, and beyond in a boom that continues to this day and during the 80’s Gwinnett County actually ranked as the fastest-growing county in all of the United States.
Massive growth was then followed by expansion and revitalization with Lawrenceville starting an ambitious program in 2005 of combining modernization for the growing population’s modern needs while also preserving the downtown district and historical buildings. Just a few examples are the Gwinnett Historical Courthouse, which is the home and operating a place of the Gwinnett Historical Society, and the Lawrenceville Female Seminary.
Lawrenceville’s attractions include:
The very popular Tribble Mill Park is a thriving 700-acre park that is popular with visitors and residents alike. The park is one of the most popular in Lawrenceville and features riding trails, biking trails, a lake with plenty of space for fishing and boating, and more!
A relatively new addition to what Lawrenceville has to offer, several old buildings were bought with the intention of adding an arts district to the town. Seeing the positive cultural, economic, and community impact that the arts had, the Aurora Theatre non-profit was invited to work with the city government as well as private developers so the three groups together could create a downtown cultural area that helped everyone.
The city bought a church that was over 100 years old and transformed that space while keeping the brilliant original aesthetics to create a theatre complex that is nearly $8 million in value and opened in 2007. Since then it has grown to entertain over 80,000 visitors a year over 850 different events.
Coolray Field is a very popular local hot spot and home to the Gwinnett Stripers, the Triple-A minor league baseball team that is in the farm system of the nearby Atlanta Braves.
The Gwinnett Historic Courthouse is a historic government building that has been at the heart of the city since the very beginning, you can find the courthouse at 185 West Crogan Street down in the heart of Lawrenceville and you could argue right in the beating heart of Gwinnett County, Georgia. While the original courthouse burned down in 1872, the present-day courthouse is still incredibly impressive, having been built in 1885.
This was the center of county business all the way up to 1988, at which point as much as the old school beauty was a wonderful thing, there was far too much work and population to serve to take place in the new courthouse. Because of this, the new Justice & Administration Building was built at 75 Langley Drive and that’s where Lawrenceville city business is done to this day.
However, that also provided an opportunity as the old historical courthouse was shut down in 1989 for some badly needed repair, renovation, and restoration and in 1992 opened as a historical site open to tourism under the County Parks & Recreation Department.