History of Winterville
Winterville offers its citizens small town living at its best, just a short six-mile drive from the University of Georgia and employment opportunities in the metropolitan area of Athens-Clarke County.
Winterville began as a railroad town, or a wood and water station for the Georgia Railroad, which used to pass through town. In 1866, the Oglethorpe Post Office was designated as Winterville, and our town was incorporated in 1904. In 1906, the Oglethorpe County portion of town was transferred to Clarke County. Today, Winterville is the only municipality entirely located within the city/county of the unified Athens-Clarke County.
The train tracks were removed when the train stopped coming through Winterville, but we still have our historic train depot to remind us of an earlier time. The area once occupied by the train tracks is now home to the Firefly Trail, part of a multi-purpose regional trail system that complements local community initiatives. The trail will be part of a 39-mile rail-trail running from Athens to Union Point, GA.
Land grants in the late 1700s brought settlers to what is now the Winterville area. With the building of Georgia’s first railroad, housing began to cluster around Six-Mile-Station, a wood-and-water stop six miles east of Athens, on the Oglethorpe-Clarke County line in the 1840s. The railroad attracted three brothers, surnamed Winter, from Germany. Soon after, the rail stop became known as Winter’s Station, and in 1866, the Oglethorpe Post Office was designated as Winterville.
In 1904, the city of Winterville was incorporated, and in 1906, the Oglethorpe County portion of the town was transferred to Clarke County. For many years, Winterville was a trading center for farmers in the surrounding areas. At its peak as a trading center, there was a bank, two cotton gins, several general merchandise stores, and a fertilizer plant. With the advent of good roads and fast transportation, the town became less and less important as a trading center. Most of the business concerns moved to Athens, or to other smaller towns located on the Seaboard Railroad which passes a few miles to the north of Winterville.
Many of Winterville’s Victorian homes were built in the 1870s and 1880s. The 1920s was another peak time of economic activity in Winterville. Newspaper accounts at that time list five general stores, a drug store, a bank, two garages, two cotton gins, two grist mills, and 510 residents.
Modern Day Winterville
Today, Winterville serves as a creative beacon for the region, hosting a rich variety of artists, musicians, and cultural events. Each spring and fall, the Front Porch Bookstore hosts an outdoor concert series. The Arts Council curates a quarterly art show at the Winterville Center for Community and Culture. Musicians and artists from all over Georgia come to Winterville in May for the Marigold Festival.