Commerical Building on Eve & Broad Streets
Harrisburg—West End Historic District is an important large residential area that grew up west of downtown Augusta from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries. The district includes the remains of the late 18th-century village of Harrisburg, early to mid-19th-century development between the city of Augusta and the community of Summerville, a large amount of late 19th-century housing for the workers of the nearby mills, and an early 20th-century area. Together they form one cohesive community. The district has a collection of residential and commercial buildings, churches, and schools dating from the late 19th century into the early 20th century in a wide variety of building types and styles.
The earliest settlement formed around Ezekiel Harris’ house (Harris-Pearson-Walker House) at 1822 Broad Street. In 1794, Mr. Harris, a tobacco merchant from South Carolina, bought 323½ acres with the intent of developing a tobacco trading center to rival those in Augusta. He built a tobacco warehouse on the river, constructed his large house in 1797 to accommodate planters who arrived with their crops, and established a free ferry to entice business to the area. Mr. Harris was not a successful businessman, however. Due to a series of costly lawsuits, he began selling off lots for residential development in 1799. The area became known as the Village of Harrisburg by 1800 and existed as a sparsely settled community through the 1870s, when industrial progress brought tremendous residential growth.
The southeast portion of the district developed from the
early to late 1800s close to the major thoroughfares of 15th Street and
Walton Way that led from Augusta to the fashionable outlying community
of Summerville. From 1830 to 1860, the town of Rollersville flourished
centered along Hicks Street between Crawford Avenue and 15th Street on
land owned by the Huntington and Bohler families. Today, the only remaining
feature is the community cemetery with its graves of family members, slaves,
and Confederate and Civil War soldiers. A lone monument marks the
first burial in 1827 and the last in 1910. Rollersville was lost
in the 1970s, when almost all the houses were demolished for the construction
of the Calhoun Expressway.
Harrisburg Christ Church
Historic Augusta, Inc.
The Augusta Canal enlargement of 1875 was the catalyst for further development, including two new mills dating from the early 1880s, Sibley Mill and John P. King Manufacturing Company. Sibley Mill is on the site of the Old Confederate Powderworks dismantled after the Civil War. Only the obelisk smokestack remains. Sibley purchased land across the canal and built housing for its employees. The John P. King Manufacturing Company, constructed in 1882 just east of Sibley, also built housing in the area for its workers. The mills increased the population making the small village a densely populated part of Augusta by 1900.
Several different areas grew between the 1880s and the turn of the century. The Augusta Land Company acquired an "L" shaped area roughly south of Broad and west of Tuttle and the Huntington and Bohler estates around 1873. Another area known as the West End, bounded by Hicks, Eve, Walton Way and 15th Street, also developed at this time but remained distinctively different from the mills. Augusta incorporated this section into the city limits in 1882 and designated it as the 5th Ward.
Harrisburg House on Wash Day
Harrisburg served as a place to live, shop, worship, and learn. Before 1904, commercial development
occurred along Broad Street and spread with corner stores and grocers.
A number of historic churches are scattered throughout the district.
The oldest is Christ Episcopal Church built in 1871 as Summerville's Church of the Good Shepherd and moved to the corner
of Greene and Eve Streets in 1882. The Crawford Avenue Baptist Church;
Central Christian Church; and two black churches, Hosannah Baptist and
St. John’s Baptist, are other examples. Three historic school buildings
remain. A school on Walker between Crawford and Tuttle Street is
one of the first public schools for African Americans in
Augusta. It is now the Harrisburg-West End Community Center. The
Martha Lester School erected on Broad Street in 1934 is used today for
music instruction by the Richmond County Board of Education.
By the 1930s, the mills began to decline and sell their housing to private individuals. Houses along Pearl Street near Sibley and King Mills were removed in 1972 in the name of urban renewal leaving large open spaces. Also in the early 1980s, construction of the John C. Calhoun Expressway divided the district into North and South regions. Through all of the change, however, the district remains a viable community of property owners who support their neighborhood institutions and are proud to call Harrisburg home.
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The Harrisburg—West End Historic District is roughly bounded by 15th St., Walton Way, Heard Ave., Milledge Rd., and the Augusta Canal. The Harris-Pearson-Walker House, (now known as the Ezekiel Harris House and previously as the White House) has been documented as the White House by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.