Inside the Lucy Craft Laney Museum in Augusta, Georgia

Lucy Craft Laney Museum in Augusta, Georgia

Must-See Black History in Augusta

Get the inside scoop on the Godfather of Soul, learn about one woman's incredible impact on education, and much more in Augusta.

Rich in history and culture, Augusta, Georgia, is the place to venture to for an enriching and educational walk down memory lane. As the birthplace and residence to several African American icons – including James Brown, Lucy Craft Laney, and Jessye Norman – Augusta is established as the true Southeastern city of soul.

Head to the below landmarks and attractions to get the full picture and an inside look into how some of Augusta's own impacted Georgia and U.S. history.

James Brown records at the Augusta Museum of History
James Brown records at the Augusta Museum of History

The Godfather of Soul, James Brown

Considering Augusta played such a huge role in James Brown's life, it is only fitting that the artist is remembered throughout the city. At the Augusta Museum of History, the one-of-a-kind James Brown Exhibit features rare memorabilia and personal artifacts that vividly tell the story of The Godfather of Soul's life. An array of costumes, artifacts, interviews with Brown, records, images and audio-visual stations that highlight concert performances, albums, studio recordings, and more are on display in this impressive exhibit.

James Brown statue in downtown Augusta, Georgia
James Brown statue in downtown Augusta, Georgia

In downtown Augusta, a life-size bronze statue of James Brown serves as a reminder of his legacy to fans and visitors of the city. The life-size bronze statue of Mr. Brown in downtown Augusta contains the world's only James Brown CAM, which will take your photo and send it to your cell phone within minutes.

James Brown suit on display at the Augusta Museum of History
James Brown suit on display at the Augusta Museum of History

When James Brown passed away, the statue was a popular place for fans to pay tribute to his life, and many still leave items to honor his life at the statue. The items left behind are all collected from the statue and given to his family and the Augusta Museum of History, where some items are displayed for the public to see.

James Brown image in downtown Augusta, Georgia
James Brown image in downtown Augusta, Georgia

Private tours of where James Brown visited/frequented are led by James Brown's daughter, Deanna Brown, and can be set up through the James Brown Family Foundation.

The Soul Bar in downtown Augusta, Georgia
The Soul Bar in downtown Augusta, Georgia

Many establishments around the city, including breweries, have food and drink options named after the late legend. The Soul Bar Augusta is one downtown hot spot that celebrates the rhythm and soul of the larger-than-life singer and other musical inspirations. Not only do they consistently feature artists who cover Brown's songs and pay tribute to the late artist, but the walls are filled with décor celebrating the Godfather of Soul.

Pioneer for Education, Lucy Craft Laney

Lucy Craft Laney was an African American educator who opened the first school for African American children in 1883.

Exterior of the Lucy Craft Laney Museum in Augusta, Georgia
Lucy Craft Laney Museum in Augusta, Georgia

The Lucy Craft Laney Museum is the only African American museum in the Central Savannah River Area. It opened in 1991 in the former home of Miss Lucy Craft Laney. Tucked away on a quiet side street off of Laney Walker Boulevard and across the street from Lucy Craft Laney High School, the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History is a trove of knowledge, historical lessons, and community offerings, carrying on the storied legacy of Ms. Laney for this generation and beyond.

Acclaimed Opera Singer and Philanthropist, Jessye Norman

Mural at the Jessye Norman School of the Arts in Augusta, Georgia
Mural at the Jessye Norman School of the Arts in Augusta, Georgia

The late and great opera singer and philanthropist Jessye Norman left an indescribable impact on Augusta and continues to live on through her legacy via the Jessye Norman School of the Arts.

The Jessye Norman School of the Arts is an after-school program designed to develop and nurture the artistic and creative talents of students. The School of the Arts serves the cultural and educational needs of these youth by providing tuition-free fine arts instruction.

African American History Walk

Statue of Lucy Craft Laney in Augusta, Georgia
Lucy Craft Laney

Discover more heritage with an African American History Walk. Trek down Laney Walker Boulevard, a street that pays homage to some of Augusta's prominent African American leaders. See monuments dedicated to men and women like Essie McIntyre, the first black female to be ordained in the Augusta area; Judge John H. Ruffin, the first African American chief judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals; and Laney, founder of the Haines Normal & Industrial Institute Lamar School of Nursing.

Springfield Baptist Church

Part of the Augusta Downtown Historic District, the village of Springfield was developed on lands confiscated from James Grierson, a Tory during the Revolutionary War. Because of their displacement from the Silver Bluff Plantation in South Carolina during the Revolution, a large population of free African Americans settled in Springfield by 1787. They established the Springfield Baptist Church, one of the oldest independent black congregations in the United States. The church is still open today and is where Morehouse College originated.

Where to Stay and Eat

Women at Craft & Vine in Augusta, Georgia
Craft & Vine in Augusta, Georgia

Tasty and eclectic fare abounds in this historic city. From local favorites like Jackie M's and Son, Bodega Ultima, New Moon Café, Craft & Vine, Farmhaus Burger and more, you’re in for a treat no matter what you choose.

Porch on The Partridge Inn in Augusta, Georgia
The Partridge Inn in Augusta, Georgia

Looking for a place to call home during your visit? For Southern charm and a sprinkle of antique flare, The Partridge Inn will create an unparalleled experience where gourmet food, an extensive cocktail and wine list, and Southern service that will impress any guest. The historic hotel has served as a gathering place for generations of Augustans as well as golf greats and celebrities like Curtis Strange, Paul Azinger, Gary Player, Reba McIntyre, James Brown and Bob Dylan.

Enjoy the hotel's Southern features, including beautiful verandahs and classic columns. The Partridge Inn’s signature restaurant, The P.I. Bar and Grill, offers fine dining and live music, and the rooftop bar serves as a great spot to lounge with a cocktail in hand while enjoying views of the city.

Published: January 2020
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