Date Built: 1931
Architectural Style: Neoclassical Revival
Designer: Eugene C. Wachendorff
Other Information: For the first decade after its creation, Lamar County did not have a courthouse. Rather, county officials rented office space in Barnesville, while the local Masonic Hall was used for court sessions. A new courthouse was constructed in 1931, and this building is still in use. In 1986, the courthouse windows were altered.
County History: On Aug. 17, 1920, the General Assembly proposed a constitutional amendment to create Lamar County from Monroe and Pike counties (Ga. Laws 1920, p. 45). In that year's general election, Georgia voters ratified the proposed amendment on Nov. 2, 1920, which marks the date of Lamar County's creation (although a state historical marker on the courthouse grounds incorrectly cites the county's creation as the day the legislative act proposing the constitutional amendment was approved).
Why was Lamar County created by constitutional amendment instead of an act of the General Assembly? In 1904, Georgia voters had approved a constitutional amendment limiting the number of counties in the state to 145. The next year, the General Assembly created eight new counties, bringing the total number to 145 -- the constitutional limit. Nevertheless, there was continuing pressure to create more counties. Beginning in 1906, lawmakers got around the 145-county limitation by creating new counties through constitutional amendments that were not subject to the limitation. By 1924, Georgia had 161 counties -- 16 of which had been created by constitutional amendment. On Jan. 1, 1932, Milton and Campbell counties merged with Fulton, leaving 159 counties. In 1945, Georgia voters ratified a new constitution -- one which provided an absolute limit of 159 counties, with an additional provision (see text) that no new country could be created except through consolidation of existing counties.
Lamar County was named for Georgia-born Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (1825-1893). Lamar had served as a U.S. Representative and Senator from Mississippi, and as U.S. Secretary of Interior under Pres. Grover Cleveland. At the time of his death in Vineville, Ga., Lamar was serving as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 1920 constitutional amendment creating Lamar County provided that Barnesville serve as county seat. Barnesville began in 1820 as a stagecoach stop in what was then Monroe County on the old Alabama Road running from Macon westward. It was named for Gideon Barnes, who operated a stage line and owned a tavern here. In 1822, Barnesville was included in the portion of Monroe County used to create Pike County. The legislature incorporated Barnesville by an act of Feb. 20, 1854 (Ga. Laws 1853-54, p. 211).