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Springfield is a city in Effingham Countymarker, Georgiamarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 1,821 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Effingham Countymarker .

Springfield is part of the Savannahmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History

Today, Springfield is the seat of government for Effingham County. Ebenezermarker was the county seat from 1797 to 1799. In 1799, Effingham County had three different county seats. The state legislature appointed a commission to select a new centrally located site for the permanent county seat. A location five miles from the center of the county was chosen and named Springfield.

The county government surveyed the new town, and designated streets, lots, and the public squares that were to be used for the courthouse and the jail. The lots were sold to finance the construction of these public buildings. A map drawn in 1821 shows four north - south streets and nine east - west streets. Development of the new county seat was slow. At the turn of the century, it was listed as having only about twelve houses.

But a 1907 map showed the introduction of the railroad, four new east - west streets, and several new north - south streets. This time period saw the greatest growth in Springfield. The Brinson Railroad from Savannahmarker was built about 1907, as was the George M. Brinson Sawmill. In 1908 the present County Courthouse was constructed. In the decade from 1900 to 1910, the population of Springfield increased to 500 from 134.

Much of the early architecture was lost due to a series of fires from the late 1800s through the 1960s. This loss should serve to underline the importance of the courthouse and its surrounding residential structures.

Throughout the South, the courthouse square served as the nucleus of town activity and the anchor around which the community was planned. The courthouse was usually surrounded by public space or by a square. Houses emerged on the fringes of the square and growth would usually radiate from the courthouse, creating a square town plan. Springfield is a good example of this process.

Stylistically, American Government buildings have evolved within the realm of classical Greek architecture. As the United States was searching for identity, the association with Greek Democracy became translated into the architectural styles of governmental buildings. Greek proportions and ornamentation remain a symbol of the solidity of government through association with Greek democracy. Springfield's 1908 courthouse is an example of the courthouse as town anchor.

At the turn-of-the-century the Effingham County Courthouse was a two-story frame building facing Early Street. The lower floor contained the court room and a few offices. The second floor was the Jury Room. In 1908, the present courthouse was built, designed by Savannah architect Hyman W. Witcover. In 1979 an annex was added for additional space. By this time the courthouse was much more than a building in which to hear legal matters. County business expanded requiring space for offices such as the Tax Assessor, the Tax Collector, and the County Commissioners. Also located in the courthouse was the Probate Court, which administered wills and testaments and looked after orphans and widows. Here also was the Magistrate's Court which ruled on both criminal and civil cases.

Just as clothing follows the current fashion, architecture also follows fashion or is said to be of a "style." Springfield experienced its major growth around 1910. During that period the architectural fashion was shifting from the elaborate and highly detailed Victorian style to the simpler and more sensible Arts and Crafts or Bungalow style. The majority of Springfield's historic homes reflect this architectural style. This transitional fashion is often referred to as Folk Victorian. It is recognizable by the use of spindle work around eaves and porches, decorative porch supports, patterned shingles in the gables and single-paned, double hung windows.

The historic homes of Springfield were designed to adapt to coastal Georgia's warm environment. Most houses were built on raised foundations to reduce rising heat from the ground, as well as to allow for ventilation to eliminate dampness. Windows were strategically placed to capture the cool evening breeze and to provide cross ventilation. The exaggerated eaves and porches divert the direct sun which reduces the absorption of heat, in addition to providing an outdoor living area.

Interior elements which contribute to climate control are the high ceilings and double hung windows. On warm days the upper window sash can be lowered to allow the hot air to escape, while cool air is drawn in the raised lower window sash. These elements coupled with thick plaster walls create a comfortable environment.

Another coastal condition is heavy rain. Therefore, most roofs are steeply pitched to improve roof drainage. Many of the historic roofs are of metal to further increase their ability to shed rain and to prevent the spread of fire from one structure to the next.

Springfield was historically a sawmill town. Thus lumber was easily accessible, explaining the predominance of wooden frame houses. The majority of the historic homes were constructed before the automobile, which explains the lack of original carports or garages.

Due to the ravages of fire, time, and progress, many of the earliest structures of Springfield have been lost. Fortunately the original 1908 Effingham County Courthouse and its surrounding residential neighborhood remain. If these buildings are not recognized for their architectural and historical importance, they too are in danger of being lost. By recognizing and appreciating what structures are left, the residents can insure that these historic buildings surrounding the original Courthouse Square remain intact. All that is left should be recognized and preserved for the enjoyment and the education of future generations.

The built history of this small Southern town, rural county seat and lumber mill community, is a heritage that must be guarded. With the rapid growth and development of Effingham County, the next generation could know a Springfield very different from what it was historically. Only the present citizens can assure that the traditional buildings of Springfield continue into the future, to join the past with the present.

Geography

Springfield is located at (32.368240, -81.310152) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.1 square miles (5.5 km²), all of it land.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,821 people, 633 households, and 453 families residing in the city. The population density was 854.3 people per square mile (330.1/km²). There were 704 housing units at an average density of 330.3/sq mi (127.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 76.28% White, 22.13% African American, 0.38% Native American, 0.05% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 0.77% from other races, and 0.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.03% of the population.

There were 633 households out of which 36.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.0% were married couples living together, 17.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.3% were non-families. 25.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 17.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,544, and the median income for a family was $41,071. Males had a median income of $35,096 versus $25,192 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,519. About 11.1% of families and 13.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.4% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.

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