WAYNE COUNTY


The former Wayne County Courthouse, which burned in 1972
County Seat: Waynesboro

Normally the courthouse itself isn't one of the more interesting stories in a county. But it is for Wayne County.

In 1972 the old courthouse burned. Originally, Wayne County officials were going to move the courthouse away from the Waynesboro town square. But by the time the Nashville architectural firm, Yearwood and Johnson, had come back with a rather unusual modern design, the decision had been made to rebuild on the site of the old courthouse.

The current Wayne County Courthouse
Today people who drive through Waynesboro do a double-take when they see the reinforced concrete courthouse.
The employees of Waynesboro's General Shoe plant in 1954
Waynesboro is also one of many Tennessee counties that once had a General Shoe factory. General Shoe, a Nashville based company now known as Genesco, was at one time the largest apparel company in the world. It had clothing and shoe factories all over the southeast.

T. S. Stribling
PHOTO: Univ. of North Alabama
Also related to Wayne County: By many accounts, T. S. Stribling was America’s greatest author in the 1920s and 1930s. He was born here, in Clifton, and lived here on and off throughout his life (although Florence, Alabama – not far from here – also claims him). Starting in 1930, Stribling published a trilogy about life in the South, under titles The Forge, The Store, and Unfinished Cathedral. The Store won the Pulitzer in 1933.

 

Not all of his fellow southerners were happy with his depiction of life in the South, the way he attacked injustice, and the way he wrote about race relations. Some people today say that it was T. S. Stribling’s novels that “destroyed the myth” of the old South, carving the way for some of the changes that took place after World War II (such as desegregation).