Small Town Stories: Donalsonville, Georgia

“Our neighbors are friends, and strangers soon become neighbors, as our friendly people are our number one asset” — Donalsonville Chamber of Commerce website.

This month’s small town story is none other than Donalsonville, Georgia, a town rich in education, health care, relationships, and history.  Donalsonville, a long-time client of Black Mountain Software, came to the top of our list of small cities to write about following publicity celebrating their downtown revitalization program.  Donalsonville appears to be a town full of charm and forward-thinking enthusiasm.  In fact, “making life better here” seems to be a theme for Donalsonville residents, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Donalsonville “BetterWay” Committee, who are teaming up to restore the downtown area.  Goals for this enthusiastic committee include improving downtown Donalsonville by creating a tree and bench-filled downtown area, adding a Seminole County Historical Museum, and revitalizing the town’s northern entrance with agricultural artifacts to highlight the town’s history.

The Donalsonville historical courthouse.

History plays into every piece of this locally-funded revitalization program: from historical photos that were posted in the windows of local shops to raise awareness and funds for the project, to the 1922 Seminole County Courthouse which still stands today and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Donalsonville is a nice balance where heritage collides with new thinking.

Donalsonville, chartered in 1897, was named after businessman John Ernest Donalson, who built the first lumber mill in the town, Donalson Lumber Company. With the addition of homes for the mill workers, the lumber industry paved the way for Donalsonville’s growth, now hovering around a population of 2,800.

Though small in numbers, Donalsonville has some “big” amenities.  Among them is a large focus on education, health, and social services, which, coupled with agriculture, account for the city’s largest industries.  Health care is a number one priority in this community, and believed to be key to maintaining a high quality of life for Donalsonville families. The town has state of the art healthcare facilities and ten doctors on staff, which contribute to their goal of making “people our number one asset.”

The town, a mere four square miles, is located just 20 minutes north of Lake Seminole, and has close-by city neighbors of Albany, Georgia to the north and Dothan, Alabama to the West.  Some of the small town charm that resides within the city limits includes the renovated Olive Theater which hosts local talent, agricultural mural paintings that line buildings throughout the town, and charming boutiques that making shopping fun. A favorite attraction of the locals, however, is the Donalsonville Country Club, a hangout for Donalsonville’s golfers.

The Harvest Festival, one of the largest celebrations in the city, is hosted each October and is a major part of honoring Donalsonville’s agricultural heritage.  Other seasonal celebrations include the Christmas Tour of Homes and the PRCA Rodeo.  But the greatest recreational opportunities are provided by Lake Seminole, which is one of the top bass fishing lakes in the country, and host to many recreational opportunities such as swimming, water skiing, boating, picnicking, and camping.

Beyond Donalsonville’s history, amenities and recreation, it is filled with beauty.  Neighborhoods are scattered with shrubs and flowers, and the moderate climate makes it a great home to a number of residents, bird species, and plant life.  Donalsonville, while being a place that puts their residents first, has residents that put heritage, amenities, and natural beauty first, making it a great small town!

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