Thomasville bringing the history of ‘The Bottom’ back to life

Thomasville bringing the history of ‘The Bottom’ back to life

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - Teaching students isn’t the only way the Jack Hadley Black History Museum is spreading knowledge.

What’s sometimes called the lowest district in Thomasville, “The Bottom” is full of history.


“'The Bottom’ was a booming place.
You could drive by in ‘The Bottom,’ they had theaters down there, drug store in the ‘Bottom,’ restaurant, dry cleaners, you had the insurance companies. Just about everything you need,” Jack Hadley, museum owner, said.
Jack Hadley, owner of the Jack Hadley History Museum in Thomasville.
Jack Hadley, owner of the Jack Hadley History Museum in Thomasville. (Source: WALB)

Hadley has fond memories of parades and having the time of his life in “The Bottom.”


“It was special because what we would do is, we would make floats.
Because we were together, it was something to look forward to every year,” said Hadley.

For decades, the area continued as the epicenter of this community until what many African Americans longed for, changed everything.

Integration shut it all down, and “The Bottom” was no longer “booming.

"We could go to the white restaurants and sit and have dinner, we could go to the theater, instead of sitting up in the balcony, we could sit in the audience. Go to the drive-in, without any problems. So ‘The Bottom’ disappeared,” said Hadley.

Hadley and city leaders are now taking steps to let everyone who comes through “The Bottom” know what this place held so many years ago.


“The City of Thomasville is doing a magnificent job to preserve that piece of history.
That they can show people who come back, ‘hey this is what it used to be here in Thomasville,’” said Hadley.

Signs will be added to commemorate what used to be a thriving area.

"The City of Thomasville now is getting ready to put bronze plaques on the pavement where all those black businesses existed. Even a bronze memorial wall to honor Earl Williams, our first black Mayor,” said Hadley.

From Hadley, to city employees, to each Thomasville resident and tourist, they’re passing the torch of black history — one person at a time.

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