Hinesville Becomes a Boom Town (1940)

More changes occurred in Hinesville during the summer of 1940 than had taken place in the county seat since it was established in 1837. By early November 1940,  at least some of the many local and outside business developers who had announced their plans to open this or that business during the summer had found the financial backing they needed to make their “get rich quick” plans realities.


The face of Hinesville was rapidly changed by construc­tion companies which renovated old buildings and erected new ones. Some of the construction money came from the Hinesville Bank. Still more came from sources outside of Liberty County.


Many of the business ventures which sprang up in Hines­ville were makeshift and not intended to last beyond the duration of World War II. Owners of some of the ventures were transients at best. But some of the new construction was of a permanent type and contributed to the long range, orderly growth of Hinesville.


Housing was the most critical item in Hinesville during the last few months of 1940. Unscreened rooms with one door and a window, and often no heat, rented for $3 a week. Better rooms in town which rented for $6 a month in June 1940, by early November 1940 were renting for a much as $50 a month. By November 1940 it cost $2 to buy three meals a day.


The three eating establishments in Hinesville expanded their service facilities. Two of the old hotels, relics of bygone years, were renovated and opened as rooming houses, one with dining facilities. Still other eating establishments were being constructed in early November 1940.


An estimated 3,000 persons relocated in Hinesville during the summer and winter of 1940. All of them needed living accommodations. Hinesville and Liberty County established a housing bureau to help the newcomers find lodgings. Home owners in the city and county were asked to list their spare bedrooms with the bureau. Many of them did. But the bur­eau came no way near finding living accommodations for all who needed them.


Mayor T.W. Welborn and the city council appointed a planning board to recommend ways to expand city facilities such as water, sewage, and garbage collections. They devised a health and sanitation facility where none existed before. They sought developers to build new housing. They improved old streets and opened new ones. They expanded the city limits. The city had one policeman in early 1940. By the end of the year the Hinesville Police Department had three members.


The Liberty County Board of Commissioners worked closely with Hinesville officials in coping with the situation brought about by the opening of Camp Stewart. It helped them improve existing streets and build new ones. It cooper­ated with the city in the collection of garbage. It developed new facilities in other parts of the county for new residents. The sheriff of Liberty County had one deputy in early 1940. By November 1940 he had five deputies.


The Hinesville Methodist Church was sold to an outside interest. It was remodeled and became a grocery store. Mem­bers of the church congregation built a brick church building at the corner of North Main Street and Memorial Drive.


E. Peyton Way constructed a two-story building on court­house square which became the second “Way Building” in Hinesville. The first floor of the building became a drug store, while the second floor became the first hospital Liberty County had ever had.


Lenieu and Hazel Bagley Carter established the Carter Funeral Home and an ambulance service. They also estab­lished other business interests, such as a beauty shop, in what was called the Bagley Building.


Thomas H. Bagley and J.R. Morgan established a taxi and bus service in the Bagley Sub-Division in the southeast sec­tion of Hinesville. Five taxis, one 35-passenger bus, and a trailer freight bus operated between Hinesville, Camp Stewart, and Savannah, Georgia. J. Dekle Darsey was general manager of the facility. The Greyhound Bus Lines established a depot in Hinesville and increased the number of buses it operated through Hinesville each day.


Six brick buildings were constructed on South Main Street in Hinesville in 1940. One of them was a motion picture theater which opened in late 1940. While the theater was being built, a tent theater exhibited films on a vacant lot opposite the home of W.C. Hodges. It was crowded with spectators for every performance. The Liberty Amusement Parlor, with 12 billiard tables and a lunch counter, was next door to the theater. The Liberty County Herald moved from the old Bradwell Building to another of the new brick structures.


The water and sewage system in Hinesville was woefully inadequate for its needs in early November 1940. But most of the homes in the city were wired for electricity. The city had no paved streets, and would not have any for another two years. Only 12 new homes were built in Hinesville in 1940. Much more was needed. It is doubtful that any Ameri­can city has ever been asked to extend its facilities over such a short period of time as Hinesville was forced to do begin­ning in 1940.