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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.