|Downtown Plains, Georgia|
“Located in Southwest Georgia among the pine trees, peanut fields, magnolias, and gnats is Plains, Ga,” hometown of James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr., the 39th President of the United States and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
|Jimmy Carter (Julianne G. Crane)|
“Few U.S. Presidents have had such close ties with where they were born and raised,” according to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site.
“The rural southern culture of Plains, Georgia, that revolves around farming, church and school, had a large influence in molding the character and in shaping the political policies of the 39th President of the United States.” Read more.
I first visited Plains in the summer of 1991 when I first started volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Americus, Ga., about 10 miles north of Plains. I learned that Pres. Jimmy Carter would frequently give “Sunday school classes” at the Maranatha Baptist Church. ( Click here for Pres. Jimmy Carter’s upcoming schedule for presenting at the Maranatha Baptist Church.)
On my Sunday visits to Plains, after listening to President Carter lace his Sunday lessons with wisdom along with current and historic references, I would often walk the main street talking with folks and stopping in at places of interest. Here are just a few of my favorites.
Old Plains Train Depot
|Old Plains Train Depot (NPS)|
“The Plains Train Depot contains a self-guided museum with exhibits focusing on the 1976 Presidential Campaign. It served as a train depot from 1888 to 1951, when passenger service to the area was discontinued.
The building was opened in 1976 as Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Campaign Headquarters and during that time approximately 10,000 people a day came to Plains to find out about candidate Carter. Many state primary victories, as well as the presidential victory, were celebrated in the streets around the depot,” according to the National Park Service website.
Billy Carter Museum aka Billy’s Gas Station
|Billy Carter Museum (NPS)|
Another favorite spot is the old Billy’s Gas Station, now known as the Billy Carter Museum and occupied by the ‘Friends of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site.’ The group’s goal “is the keep the community vibrant, continue learning opportunities, and most importantly, correlate the stories of bygone days and modern times to describe how Plains shaped the life of our 39th President, Jimmy Carter.”
“The famous south Georgia service station, once owned by Billy Carter, has come back to life as a museum, reflecting the former First Brother’s life and the station’s history.
Billy Carter, who died in 1988, lived in Plains most of his life, managing the family peanut business for a while and in 1972 buying the old service station, which became the town hot spot during the Carter campaign. It was renovated and re-opened as The Billy Carter Service Station Museum in 2008 through the joint efforts of the University of Georgia, the Plains Better Hometown Association and Billy Carter’s family.”
If you’ve traveled all the way to Plains, you’ll want to take advantage of at least two other nearby sites that are worth the time and effort to pull off the road.
Habitat for Humanity in Americus
|Habitat’s Global Village.(Julianne G. Crane)|
In the neighboring town of Americus, Georgia, is the Habitat for Humanity Headquarters where thousands of volunteers have spent time working for the nonprofit’s vision of “a world where everyone has a decent place to live” by “building strength, stability and self-reliance in partnership with people and families in need of a decent and affordable home.” Visit the RV Care-A-Vanners coordinator’s office in the Rylander Building at 322 West Lamar. If you are coming by RV please park in the Old Market Place Building Parking Lot at 721 West Church Street and walk over.
A great place to learn about Habitat’s work around the world is the nearby 6-acre Global Village and Discovery Center complex that has life-size Habitat houses from countries around the world. Phone: (800) 422-4828, ext. 7937.
The Discovery Center also tells the story of Habitat for Humanity, including its founding by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976 after their experience building simple, decent housing with Clarence Jordan and others at Koinonia Farm.
|Koinonia sign. (Julianne G. Crane)|
Koinonia (Greek for loving community) was founded in 1942 as an intentional Christian community. Koinonia is a “peaceful place to rest, a community that’s committed to peace and social justice, and a working farm with animals, gardens, orchards,
walking trails, a store and a museum. It’s also the birthplace of Clarence Jordan’s writings, Habitat for Humanity, the Fuller Center for Housing, Jubilee Partners and many other organizations and causes.” It is also a Georgia Historic Site and produces the very best dark chocolate pecan bark made on planet earth.
To stay for one night or up to two weeks, click here for more information. There are RV spaces for $30 and Primitive Camping $10. Phone: (229) 924-0391, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Koinonia is only a few miles southeast of Americus along GA Hwy 49.