Augusta Commons

Bewtween 8th and 9th streets in Downtown Augusta
Augusta, GA

Submitted by: merlin phantom

A town square that was the idea of Gen James Oglethorpe himself, but it did not get built until 2001.

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Why It Works

What makes this place special is not what it is, it's what it could be. Augusta Tomorrow, a downtown visionary firm, developed this square as well as the Common's neighbor Riverwalk Augusta. When Augusta was drawn out by Gen James Oglethorpe, he included a 300 acre commons area that could be used by the whole community for farming, livestock grazing, etc. Well, people's needs have changed since then, and Augusta Tomorrow partnered with the City of Augusta and knocked down a block of vacant buildings in the struggling downtown. The area, at the moment, is a grassy lawn stretching from Broad Street (the main street) to Reynolds.

The lawn acts as a connection between the new Riverwalk and the central business district. It features a statue of Gen James Oglethorpe in the center, a wall fountain with the city seal, and a bronze map of Oglethorpe's vision of Augusta. It has tables with built in chess and checkers tables. Decorative benches and light posts follow the two wide sidewalks that border the lawn. It also has four "corners." Four brick planters that line the corner stand for Moral Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and Political Freedom. The speech corner even features a soap box.

Plans for the square call for it to expand both ways: south of Broad Street and North to Riverwalk. A new building housing the Morris Museum of Art would anchor the northern common, while a college connected with Augusta State University as well as the new Richmond County Board of Education would anchor the south end. The Augusta Commons are one of the best things that have ever happened to Augusta, the town just needs to finish what it started. (The commons phase one was finished in 2001. Nothing has been said since of continuing to follow the master plan.)

What Makes Augusta Commons a Great Place?

The main point of the commons is to connect Broad Street to Riverwalk. Ok, that goal has been accomplished. They need to focus on making it a destination now. Shops and cafes should line the tree covered sidewalks. Otherwise, the paths are adequate, and kept clean.

The Augusta Commons focuses on Augusta. That is its biggest point. It ties in our history with the here and now. While it is safe, it can feel a bit eerie when there is not much foot traffic. On weekends, summer days, and Masters Week it is packed. Other days, it can be safe but still lonely. It is a postcard image though.

When the commons come alive is when the events roll in. It has a year-round schedule. The Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival is in the fall, along with Oktoberfest, Latino Festival, and the Border Bash. The Border Bash is held on the eve of the University of Georgia's and University of South Carolina's big game. The cheerleaders and team mascots, as well as local bands, make their appearance. During Christmas, they have the city tree lighting with Santa Claus, and a Victorian Carriage Parade. In the spring, the commons host the St. Patrick's Day Festival. Summer movies and jazz concerts happen in the summer, as well as a Labor Day Luau. If all goes well, the James Brown "Soul of America" Music Festival will call the commons home this May.

During festivals is when sociability is the highest

Related Links:

  • Augusta.com - information on the progress at Augusta Commons

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