A visit to Dublin isn’t complete without learning a bit about its place in history. When we study the past, we can walk away with knowledge and perspectives that inform our present and our future. Unearth Dublin’s rich history with outings to landmarks of legacy and momentous monuments. Learn about brilliant Black leaders, sacred spaces, and awe-inspiring architecture. Good people make a difference here.
One way to take in Dublin’s history is via the Historic Downtown Dublin Walking Tour. Pick up a print guide at the Dublin Visitors Center or visit downtowndublintour.com to begin the self-guided tour that includes more than 70 landmarks.
Make your first stop the First African Baptist Church, the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s first public speech. As a 15-year-old student at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, King participated in an essay contest sponsored by the Colored Elks Clubs of Georgia. On April 17, 1944, he delivered “The Negro and the Constitution” at their state convention held at First African Baptist Church. This was his first remarkable step toward a legacy in the Civil Rights Movement, thanks in part to his powerful oration. Local Dublin historian Scott Thompson uncovered this information in 2010, and since then, Dublin has taken strides to preserve and honor this important piece of history.
You can see evidence of that work at Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park. Take an audio tour of the park to hear a rendition of King’s first speech and learn details about the events of that day. Marvel at the magnificent mural and stunning seven-foot sculpture, both by Georgia artist Corey Barksdale.
Pay homage to Herbert “Hub” Dudley at the site of The Dudley Motel, Dudley’s Service Station, and the Dudley’s “Retreat” Café at the corner of East Jackson Street and Truxton Street. Dudley was a pillar of the community in Dublin, establishing several businesses throughout his life to serve Black citizens and visitors during segregation. These buildings still stand today and were recently added to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of Places in Peril, in an effort to preserve their history.
Hub Dudley’s businesses addressed the needs of the Black community in Dublin. The “Negro Motorist Green Book” and Amoco’s “Go Guide to Pleasant Motoring” featured three of his establishments as respites for road-weary travelers. Among those was Dudley’s Amoco Service Station, which opened in 1936 and operated 24 hours a day to provide fuel and food to Black motorists. After World War II, during which he started a USO for Black officers stationed at the nearby naval hospital, Dudley’s “Retreat” Café opened to the public, becoming a fixture for food, entertainment, and modern conveniences. Regulars witnessed performances by musical acts like Rosetta Tharpe, Little Richard Penniman, and James Brown. In 1958, Dudley opened the first motel for Black travelers in Dublin. Providing safe and comfortable lodging, The Dudley Motel featured 12 rooms with amenities like televisions, private bathrooms, and air conditioning. Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed at the Dudley Motel along with other Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy, and Maynard Jackson.
If historical architecture is your thing, there are many sights to see in Dublin. Take the Historic Bellevue Avenue Walking Tour, a two-mile segment of the Historic Downtown Dublin Walking Tour around one of the oldest streets in Dublin. Before being established as an avenue in the 1880s, it provided access to the Fuqua Plantation as a dirt road called Old Hawkinsville Wagon Road. Learn this and other tidbits as you view the stately homes and mansions that make up “Millionaire’s Row.”
Go by the carefully restored Old Post Office on West Madison Street, a winner of the Marguerite Williams Award by the Georgia Trust for Excellence in Restoration. Built in 1911, the post office building is an elegant example of neoclassical architecture with vaulted ceilings, arched windows, and marble floors.
Admire the alluring Art Deco architecture of the Fred Roberts. Step inside the former hotel to get a glimpse of Georgia’s earliest examples of eclecticism, incorporating European and Egyptian influences, like Tudor arches and stone sarcophagi. Built in 1926, it was known in its heyday as the finest hotel between Macon and Savannah.