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A grant from the Williams Family Foundation was implemented this week through the purchase and installation of 24 historic plaques in the 200 block of West Jackson Street. This project completion caps off the City of Thomasville’s final phase to commemorate the history of this historic district.

City of Thomasville staff worked with the Jack Hadley Black History Museum and the Thomasville History Center to identify historic businesses in this area. Plaques list the name of the business, as well as the address, years the business was operated, and the owner’s name. The 200 and 300 blocks of West Jackson Street, known as The Bottom, served as the location for many minority-owned businesses that opened before integration and played an important role in its history from the early 1900s into the 1970s. The area served as the hub of shopping, dining, entertainment, and health care for the African American community.

The first phase to commemorate this area’s history began in 2017 when community engagement sessions were held to gain public input for the West Jackson Streetscape. In 2018, the Thomasville City Council voted to officially name this business district The Bottom and name The Ritz Amphitheater and Park after the Ritz Theater, the entertainment venue for African Americans for many years before school integration. A streetscape project in this area was completed in 2019, followed by the installation of a commemorative wall celebrating the area’s history and the installation of over 35 sidewalk plaques in the 300 block of West Jackson Street.

“Last year, when we installed the sidewalk plaques in the 300 block of West Jackson Street, funding was not available to continue this installation into the 200 block,” noted Sherri Cain, Community Outreach Manager. “The generosity of the Williams Family Foundation has allowed us to continue to honor the legacy of this area and recognize the minority-owned businesses that played such a large role in the history of The Bottom.”

Public input has played an extensive role in the preservation of this area. “Back in 2014, public engagement sessions led to the Creative District Vision Plan, which provided the framework for constructing The Ritz Amphitheater and guidance for the 2019 streetscape project in this area,” noted Cain. “This generous grant from the Williams Family Foundation has allowed us to capture the additional history and continue sharing and celebrating The Bottom’s story for years to come.”

For more information about the Williams Family Foundation Grant or information about additional projects commemorating the district, visit or call 229-227-7001.