The historic district of Washington is located one-half mile south of the commercial area. This area developed along the Georgia Railroad and was centered on a railway depot. Until the mid-20th century, the railroad served as one of the most important forms of transportation throughout Georgia. Near the railroad depot, which is no longer standing, a number of cotton-related industries occupied the area. Cotton, one of the state’s staple crops, was the main economic engine of Washington from the late 18th century until the middle of the twentieth century.
The historic district contains several buildings that represent the many styles of house construction throughout the city. Many of these buildings are intact examples of common house types. Many of the historic buildings in the area have been designated as Georgia’s Living Places. While some have been renovated and some have been demolished, they still retain their overall historic integrity. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the historic district has become a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
The museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts and antiques. The collection is quite diverse and represents two centuries of history in the city. The house, which was built by Albert Gallatin Semmes in 1835, was originally a modest two-over-two saltbox. In the 1850s, cotton prices had skyrocketed, and many wealthy Washington residents began to build large houses and remodel older ones. Many of these buildings were designed in the Greek Revival style, which was a popular design in the South.
Historic houses in Washington represent more than two hundred years of house types in Georgia. Several examples of one-story Queen Anne cottages survive, including 408 Alexander Avenue. Another example of a two-story Queen Anne house is the c.1890 New Haywood. A number of other Georgians opted for the New South cottage house style, which is still popular in this city. The West Robert Toombs Avenue frame Queen Anne style is also a fine example of this style.
The city’s early nineteenth century growth was attributed to its position on stagecoach and mail routes. The Washington Market and Willis Hotel were two important stops for stagecoach drivers. The Willis Hotel was opened in 1802.
Several churches in Washington are noteworthy for their architecture. Gothic Revival churches in the area are especially noteworthy, with the first Baptist Church in 1885, the Second Washington Episcopal Church in 1896, and the First United Methodist Church in 1910. Other common church structures include the Italianate-style Second Methodist Church and the Queen Anne style Marks Tabernacle Baptist Church. A few houses in the area were built by prominent African-Americans.