North Villa Rica Commercial Historic District
Roughly bounded by Southern Railroad, North Avenue, East Gordon and West Church Streets
A collection of buildings in Villa Rica’s historic downtown district dating from 1875 were constructed in the early commercial style. The district currently houses the police department, antique stores, restaurants and other commercial businesses.
Directions: Take State Hwy 61 north until you cross over Interstate Hwy 20 with a major shopping center on the right. At the red light, turn right onto U.S. 78 into downtown Villa Rica. Take a left, cross over the railroad tracks and you are in the North Villa Rica Commercial Historic District, marked by brown historic signs. Several antiques shops are located in this district.
212 W. Wilson Street, Villa Rica
By Appointment: 770-942-2692 or 770-328-9825
Dating from the 1830s, Wicks Tavern is the oldest commercial structure in the county. The tavern was built by New York immigrant John B. Wick in Gold Village, better known as “Hixtown” or “Old Town.” It was initially used as a bar and hotel for travelers and is a classic example of the “Dutch”-style timber framing method. After the arrival of the Georgia-Pacific Railroad in 1882, a number of homes and buildings were rolled from Hixtown to the present site on Villa Rica. The tavern, however, was too large to be moved at the time and was later turned into a home. In 1998, the “Friends of Wick’s Tavern” made the journey to the downtown area. Wick Tavern now serves as a living history museum.
Directions: Located in a fenced-in area on W. Wilson Street behind the businesses on the South side of Downtown Villa Rica.
Thomas A. Dorsey, Georgia Historical Marker
W. Wilson Street at U.S. 78
Thomas Dorsey was born in Villa Rica on July 1, 1899, and is best known as the “Father of Gospel.” His father was a traveling preacher and his mother played the organ. At a young age, he found refuge in Atlanta’s black community, where he studied piano and organ. In 1919, he moved to Chicago and later played with Ma Gertrude Rainey and her Wild Cat Jazz band. After a physical breakdown that left him unable to write or perform and the death of his wife and newborn, Dorsey turned to his faith for solace, composing more than 400 blues and gospel songs. He wrote the world’s most popular gospel-blues songs Take My Hand, Precious Lord, which has been translated into 32 languages, and Peace in the Valley, a popular song recorded by Elvis Presley.
Directions: After you have turned right at the Hwy 61 intersection and pass the city cemetery, this marker is on the right at South Dogwood Street.
First Presbyterian Church of Villa Rica
PCA 519 Main Street, Villa Rica
Organized in 1855 as Villa Rica Presbyterian Church, the original congregation was made of up 14 members who held services in their homes. By 1925, the congregation had grown to 60 people, and the church was forced to build a new structure. The Candler family donated land for the church, and the house was built in the 1930s for services and office space. The pulpit, mahogany pews and stained glass were purchased from the Old Wesley Memorial Church in Atlanta when it was demolished. The formula for the window color is lost to history, thus making them irreplaceable. One of the Candler homes stood on the property until the late 1990s, when it was demolished for the services/office building behind the church. This church will be one of the first buildings marked of the new Villa Rica Historic Preservation Plaque Program.
Annie Powell Berry House
203 Peachtree Street, Villa Rica
Restored in 2004 and 2005, this 1908 house features many of the original wood floors, much of the millwork and beveled glass. A modern detached garage designed to be historically compatible was built behind the house. Portions of the home were once rented to teachers visiting Villa Rica to teach. The property was considered for use as a Bed & Breakfast, but remains a private residence. The present owner, Valerie Berry Wilhelm, is the granddaughter of the original owners.