Many people over the years have tried to put their fingers on just what it is that makes Athens so special. Perhaps a look at our public monuments provides the clue: We don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Double-Barreled Cannon Though it guards City Hall, it never worked as intended, and its test-fire killed a cow, knocked down a chimney and nearly eliminated the onlookers.
Tree That Owns Itself The charming story of the Tree at the end of Dearing Street was made up by a local newspaper publisher. Never trust them.
Iron Horse The horse was too modern for the 1956-model UGA students, so they ran it out of town. It now stands proudly in a cornfield 15 miles out Hwy. 15 south, still looking modern, though lonely.
Anchor The U.S. Navy Supply Corps School weighed anchor but sailed off to Newport, RI, without this one.
Confederate Soldier Typical of his brothers all over the South, he’s a monument to a lost cause.
Steeple The Steeple is the only piece left standing from the old St. Mary’s Episcopal Church made famous as the site of the first public performance by R.E.M. the band that’s no longer standing.
Trestle Bridge to Nowhere. Once connecting Athens to the world, it no longer even connects us to Winterville. Made famous on the cover of an R.E.M. album.
Bulldogs Conceived as a fundraising project for a women’s club, they were supposed to have been raffled off after three years. After 10, they’re still around.
Eagle It sits atop City Hall but is too heavy to serve its intended purpose as a weathervane. It provides a great perch for starlings, though.
Elijah Clarke Namesake of Clarke County. Defeated the British at Kettle Creek; seceded from the new union and tried to establish his own, short-lived Trans-Oconee Republic. Good namesake.
The Arch Made out of an old boiler and some lamp posts, it perfectly represents the DIY esthetic necessitated by today’s approach to funding higher education.