Autumn 2007: Alumni Ink
Bricks and Mortar
New book explores Georgia history from the vantage of the Capitol
If the walls of the Georgia Capitol building could talk, they might well have dictated the book Democracy Restored: A History of the Georgia State Capitol (University of Georgia Press, 2007). Since they cannot, however, Timothy Crimmins 72G and Anne Farrisee, with photographer Diane Kirkland, have written the book for them, with all the care, color, and detail of eyewitnesses.
Democracy Restored traces the history of the Capitol, its monuments and statues, and, in the process, much of the history of Georgia politics during the last 125 years.
“Most capitol histories focus on architecture,” Crimmins says. “We were interested in the broader history of the building and the particular symbolism it has acquired over time. The book shows how landmark buildings can tell a much larger story if you research and write narratives of what took place there.”
Completed in 1889 for $1 million, the Capitol became the site of countless watershed moments and lively stories—including a fistfight that broke out among legislators over the issue of prohibition in 1907, the historic gubernatorial race in which three candidates vied for the office in a mad tug-of-war, and a major demonstration by African Americans following a speech by Martin Luther King. These and many more are vividly recounted in the conversational, fast-paced Democracy Restored.
Crimmins is a professor of history and director of the Center for Neighborhood and Metropolitan Studies at Georgia State University. He also chaired the Commission on the Preservation of the Georgia Capitol, which was established in 1993 by the Georgia General Assembly to spearhead a decade-long restoration of the building.
“The Capitol is just such a wonderful building, and it is not frozen in time,” Crimmins says. “It remains the seat of government and history continues to be made there.”
When Georgia legislators return for the General Assembly this year, they will find copies of Democracy Restored waiting on their seats. Others interested in the book can find it at major bookstores; proceeds benefit further restoration of the Capitol.