City of Thomasville pays tribute to historic Black business district ‘The Bottom’

Thomasville says it’s taken several years, but the initiative to commemorate Black and minority-owned businesses on West Jackson Street is finally complete.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 5:36 PM EDT
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WCTV) - The City of Thomasville is paying tribute to the historic Black business district known as “The Bottom.” The final touches were completed last week, with additional plaques representing where the former businesses used to operate.

The city says it’s taken several years, but the initiative to commemorate Black and minority-owned businesses on West Jackson Street is finally complete.

“It’s great that we’re finally able to continue to celebrate it and have some things here, like I said, to celebrate that history and pay tribute to it,” Christy Owens, the city’s public information officer, says.

The city has worked since 2017 to work with the community to best preserve the history and achievements of The Bottom’s business owners.

“This was basically the hub for many African Americans back probably from the 1920s up until close to the 1970s,” Owens says. “This was their social-economic hub where they came for entertainment, where they came for their drugstore and all those different activities.”

Owens says the first set of plaques were laid on the 300 block of West Jackson St., paying tribute to a former barbershop, music store and dry cleaner. The Bottom Wall was completed in November 2021, honoring Reverend Earl Williams.

“He was actually the first African American councilmember for the city of Thomasville, he was also the first African American Mayor for the city,” Owens says.

Now, the final plaques have been placed on West Jackson Street’s 200 block.

“There were a lot of African American businesses there but there were also Jewish-owned businesses,” Owens says.

Community leaders like Jack Hadley and relatives of The Bottom’s business owners helped the city create a vision to celebrate the rich history of the once-thriving business district.

Owens also mentioned that while the initial project is finally complete, there are discussions about possibly adding more plaques and storyboards to the Ritz Amphitheater.

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