Jimmy Carter Presidential Campaign Headquarters in Plains, Georgia

President Jimmy Carter Presidential Campaign Headquarters in Plains, Georgia

How to Experience President Jimmy Carter's Life and Legacy

Want to know more about Georgia's president? These locations around the state will indulge your curiosity.

President Jimmy Carter, America's 39th president, has left an incredible impact on the world, especially in his home state of Georgia. Carter grew up humbly in the small town of Plains. He went on to attend the Naval Academy in Annapolis and married his high school sweetheart, Rosalynn.

He worked as a peanut farmer before getting involved in politics, first in the state senate and later as the governor. Running as a man of the people, Carter won the election and served as president from 1977 to 1981.

 

 

After leaving office, he continued his life of public service through the Carter Center, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He also authored dozens of books about his life and political values, and even won three GRAMMYs for Best Spoken Word Album. Carter also served as a professor at Emory University in Atlanta.

Get to know Georgia's president through the places where he lived and worked throughout the state. From his hometown of Plains to the state Capitol in Atlanta, President Carter's legacy can be seen and felt statewide.

Cardboard cutout of Jimmy Carter inside the Georgia Visitor Information Center in Plains, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland
Take a picture with President Carter inside the Visitor Information Center in Plains, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland

Plains

President Carter is best associated with the small town of Plains in southwest Georgia. Start your trip at the Visitor Information Center in Plains, which has photos and mementos related to the President and First Lady. Take a picture with a cardboard cutout of the president, ask the staff for pointers on the must-sees in town, and relax on the swing outside in the butterfly garden, a location on the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.

Plan ahead and book a van tour with Plains Tours, which starts its two-hour tours at the Visitor Information Center. Hear stories about the Carters and see notable sites, including some that are off the beaten path.

Family walking in downtown Plains, Georgia
Downtown Plains, Georgia

The charming small town welcomes visitors with a big sign that notes it as the home of our 39th president. There are a number of shops selling presidential wares, and you can even stay at the Plains Historic Inn, which has seven rooms decorated to represent different decades of President Carter's life, from the 1920s to the 1980s.

Exhibit inside Plains High School, part of the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park in Plains, Georgia
Plains High School, part of the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park in Plains, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland

Many landmarks from his life are a part of the recently re-designated Jimmy Carter National Historical Park. Start at the high school he attended with Rosalynn, now a museum, where you can watch a short film and explore exhibits about his life and accomplishments.

Downtown Plains also is home to the historic train depot that served as Carter's campaign headquarters during his election runs. The building was used for passenger services from 1888 to 1951.

Billy Carter's Service Station is a Standard Oil station that the president's brother purchased in 1972. It quickly became a hangout for the international journalists that descended upon the town during the election. In 2008, it opened as a museum with items like the famous Billy Beer.

In nearby Archery, see the house Carter grew up in at the Boyhood Farm, which documents Carter's early life on a peanut farm. Push the buttons on the audio stations to listen to President Carter share stories about his childhood, and see various other buildings, including Earl Carter's commissary.

Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland
Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland

If your visit coincides with a Sunday, you might like to attend services at Maranatha Baptist Church, where President Carter frequently taught Sunday School. Before heading to your next stop, don't miss a photo op with the peanut statue on GA-45 North that bears Carter's iconic smile.

Best Western Windsor Hotel in Americus, Georgia
Windsor Hotel in Americus, Georgia

Americus

President Carter and his wife Rosalynn also have ties to the nearby town of Americus. The historic Windsor Hotel has a Presidential Suite in one of the building's towers in their honor, where the couple stayed when the hotel reopened in 1991. The town is also home to Habitat for Humanity, an organization that combats housing inequality, with which the Carters volunteered many times over the years. Local coffee roaster Cafe Campesino even has a Carter Butterfly Trail roast in honor of the First Lady's favorite project.

For a unique experience that incorporates many key locations important to President Carter's life, ride the Historic SAM Shortline Railroad, which features air-conditioned vintage rail cars. Several trips are available that include stops in Archery, Plains and Americus.

Presidential seal inside the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, Georgia
Explore exhibits about Carter's life and work at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta

Although his roots are in south Georgia, President Carter spent a great deal of time in Atlanta. The Carter Presidential Library is the best place to learn about Carter's life and post-presidential legacy. There, you'll find items like his Navy uniform and Nobel prize, rotating exhibits, and a gift shop selling his books. The Carter Center also is located there. Down the street from the library, you can stop in for a drink and a bite to eat at Manuel's Tavern, a Poncey Highlands bar and restaurant where Carter announced his gubernatorial campaign in 1970.

During his tenure in the governor's office, he lived at the Georgia Governor's Mansion in Buckhead and worked at the Georgia State Capitol downtown. The Georgia State Capitol has a portrait of Carter hanging in the gallery, along with a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that the then-governor had placed in 1974. Both men also have statues on the Capitol grounds. President Carter's statue at the Georgia State Capitol is located near the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Washington Street SW.

The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead is another great place to learn about President Carter and Georgia history.

Published: February 2023
Written by: Caroline Eubanks
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