what's so "old" about old town?
We call our growing downtown neighborhood “Old Town” because that’s what locals have always called this place. We have a past to remember and a future to mold. Through efforts such as events, public art, and signage, we are always looking for opportunities to express the unique history of Lilburn in creative and authentic ways. Together with passionate residents and business owners, we can preserve our history and pass down the cherished stories to future generations.
Lilburn’s early history was like much of Georgia – Native American occupancy gave way in the face of a government influenced land lottery. William McDaniel acquired the title to District 5, Land Lot 135, from the original lottery winner and settled in the area. This area was originally known as McDaniel, but the name was changed to Lilburn around 1896 after Lilburn Trigg Myers. Lilburn Trigg Myers was the son of the major stockholder of the Seaboard Airline Railway, which had arrived in 1890.
The Georgia‑Carolina Northern Railway started the original construction phase of a railroad line from Baltimore, Maryland to Atlanta, Georgia in 1890. The Seaboard Airline Railway took over construction of the line and the first train with passengers roared down the tracks by 1892. At that time, it was very common for railroads to purchase land and develop a town along the rails. People living along the railroad used the train for transportation and shipment of products to and from these newly created towns.
Lilburn was one of many towns constructed along the railroad, yet many of these towns no longer exist nor do structures remain to demonstrate a previously rich history. The town of Lilburn was arranged in numerical sequence consisting of First Street, Second Street, and Third Street. Railroad Avenue was considered the main corridor. Over time, First Street became a closed alley, Second Street is now called Main Street and Third Street is currently named Lula.
lilburn trigg myers
Lilburn Trigg Myers worked as the general superintendent of the railway. A photo of Lilburn Trigg Myers and his famous black top hat can be seen at City Hall, and he’s also the inspiration for Top Hat Vodka which is distilled at Lilburn’s own Hope Springs Distillery. The name of our city is unique because most places are named after someone’s last name. In line with this unique attribute, we strive to be a place where everyone’s on a “first name basis.”
Several churches are central to the history of Lilburn. In 1823, the first church created in the area was Camp Creek Primitive Baptist Church, which still remains active today at the corner of Arcado Road and Camp Creek Road. In 1840, a group left the church and created Liberty Baptist, which is now known as First Baptist Church of Lilburn. This church is located off of Main Street and Young Street and continues to thrive in the city.
Around 1834, Thomas Carroll, who was a major landowner in the present downtown district, instructed people who were enslaved to construct six small frame buildings. Five of these were tenant houses or dwellings for those enslaved people. But one was a church, a meeting place for people who were enslaved to gather and worship. This small frame building became what is known today as Salem Missionary Baptist Church. Today this church is located at the corner of Poplar Street and Killian Hill road and continues to thrive in the community.
Lilburn’s train depot was located near the current City Park parking lot off Railroad Avenue. A cotton gin was located further down Railroad Avenue, at 57 Railroad Avenue where Builders Steel Supply is located today. The town prospered from 1895 until the 1920s. Lilburn faced challenges that included a major fire that destroyed the downtown, damage to the agricultural economy wrought by the boll weevil, the Great Depression, and the cancellation of the City’s charter and dissolution of City government in 1939.
Head-on Collision in Lilburn • Train #41 and Train #702 • September 19, 1911
a historic fire
The fire that devastated Lilburn occured in the early morning of November 15, 1920. Frank Garner, who lived across the street from the Lilburn Supply Company, where the fire apparently originated, discovered the fire. The entire business section of downtown was destroyed, with the exception of 93 Main Street, which is now the location of the Antiques in Old Town shop. Only the heroic work of the volunteer bucket brigade saved the residential area of town. Today, we like to think of our residents as a continuation of that original “bucket brigade,” contributing in many ways through volunteerism and hard work.
20th century & beyond
By the middle of the 20th century, the automobile had realigned growth in the area to the Highway 29/Lawrenceville Highway corridor. The need to establish new water infrastructure resulted in the reestablishment of City government in 1955. New city halls were constructed in 1976 and again in 2016.
The Old Town Lilburn neighborhood is currently experiencing unparalleled growth, including high end residential developments, mixed use projects on Main Street for new retail and restaurants, and a retirement community across from City Hall and the Library. There are new detached homes being built and older homes being renovated throughout Old Town.
Old Town offers people a lifestyle of walkability to the park, restaurants, retail shops, a first rate library, and a concert venue. The small town charm is further supported by close proximity to the city of Atlanta, and very successful public schools in the Parkview high school cluster, as well as multiple successful private schools.
The following statement was adopted by the City of Lilburn in 2014 and it is also embraced as the vision for the Old Town neighborhood: