History

Preserving & Celebrating Character

Athens-Clarke County has a rich history that dates back to the very beginnings of the United States. The University of Georgia was founded in 1785 as the nation’s first land-grant institution. Clarke County was established in 1801 and named after Elijah Clarke, a Revolutionary War hero, and Athens was established as a town in 1805. Athens was named by John Milledge, later governor of Georgia, after Athens, Greece, the center of learning in the classical world and home to the academies of Plato and Aristotle.

In 1990, the citizens of the City of Athens and Clarke County voted to unify their governments. In doing so, Athens-Clarke County became the second consolidated government in Georgia and the 28th in the nation.

Athens was founded and continues to serve the state of Georgia as a place of higher learning. Its roots and growth have withheld through multiple wars, times of reconstruction, and times of peace. Many landmarks stand throughout the Athens area, each one telling a story of Athens’ unique history. Athens-Clarke County is dedicated to protecting its history by preserving and celebrating its character. 

There are 40 nationally registered sites and 16 nationally registered districts on the National Register of Historic Places, 12 local historic districts, and 41 individual local historic landmarks in Athens-Clarke County.

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