Lucy Craft Laney House
Two important events triggered the early development of Laney—Walker North Historic District: construction of the Georgia Railroad in 1833 and the building of the Augusta Canal from 1845-47. These activities and the industries that developed brought many laborers to the area in need of housing. The neighborhood functioned as a well-integrated, multi-ethnic working-class community until the end of the 19th century associated with three of Augusta’s historic minority populations—Irish, Chinese, and African American. The district also is significant for its wide variety of modest residential, commercial, and institutional buildings dating from the mid-19th through the early 20th century.
By the early 20th century, Jim Crow “zoning”
laws requiring blacks and whites to settle in blocks designated by race
quickly transformed the Laney—Walker District into Augusta’s
principal black neighborhood. New companies located in the area
to provide service to the black population. These included the Penny
Savings Bank at 1114 James Brown Boulevard, one of the first independently owned black banks when
it was started at the turn of the 20th century, and Pilgrim
Health and Life Insurance Company at 1143 Laney—Walker Boulevard. The working class, black professionals, and
white-collar workers all lived, worked, shopped, and worshiped together
in the neighborhood.
The Laney—Walker District is home to several historic
black churches. Trinity Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, one
of Augusta’s oldest black congregations, was established by slaves
in 1840. Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Central Baptist
Church also were founded by African Americans before emancipation. Both have been razed in recent years after the congregations moved to other facilities outside the neighborhood. A church
with a national reputation in the district is Tabernacle
Baptist Church, which dates from 1885. It moved from Ellis Street
to its present location at 1223 Laney—Walker Blvd. in 1915.
Visitors from around the country would travel to hear Reverend Charles
T. Walker, its founder and pastor. Reverend Walker was instrumental
in bringing the Walker Baptist Institute to Augusta in 1898.
Within the district at 1116 Phillips Street is the home of Miss Lucy Craft Laney, a noted educator who founded the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, the first black kindergarten in Augusta, and the Lamar School of Nursing. Miss Laney’s home is now a museum and conference center, and her grave is located on the corner of the campus she founded.
|Plan your visit
Laney—Walker North Historic District is bounded on the north by D’Antignac St. and Walton Way, on the east by Seventh and Twiggs Sts., on the south by Laney-Walker Blvd., and on the west by Phillips and Harrison Sts. The district includes private homes not open to the public and a number of commercial and institutional buildings accessible to the public. The Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History and Conference Center is located at 1116 Phillips St. Visit the museum's website or call 706-724-3546 for more information. The museum has an admission charge and is open Tuesday-Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday 10:00am to 4:00pm, Sunday 2:00pm to 5:00pm, closed Mondays. The city has restored the Penny Savings Bank at 1114 James Brown Blvd. to house shops and vendors. Hours vary. Augusta Machine Works and Crescent Grain and Feed Mill have been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record.