The Hall County Courthouse is located at 711 Green Street, Gainesville, GA 30501; phone: 770-535-8288.
Hall County was founded in 1818, when the region's mountains were still populated by Native Americans, as the trading center of Northeast Georgia. Gainesville, its seat, soon became a frontier boom town as settlers flocked to homesteads in the rolling hills formerly inhabited by Cherokee Indians. With the discovery of gold in Lumpkin and White counties to the north in 1829, Gainesville became the trading and supply center for North America's first gold rush. While miners left for California in the mid-1800s, North Georgia continued to develop as a farming region with Gainesville as its hub.
In 1871, the opening of Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad brought further growth. The area developed as a mountain summer resort, with local springs touted for their health-giving qualities and resistance to fever that plagued the South's coastal areas. Gainesville, the "Great Health Resort of the South," soon housed the region's first hospital, college and military academy along with a sizeable cultural base — all traditions that remain today. Along with hotels, large Victorian and Georgian style homes graced its streets.
Hall County's first large industries — cotton mills — arrived in 1900. Gainesville also became the major shipping point for lumber harvested and milled in the mountains to the north.
With the Great Depression in the 1930s, Hall County's economy suffered. Cotton production was hampered by infestation of the boll weevil, lumber shipping declined due to the Chestnut blight, and the nation's second-deadliest tornado struck Gainesville in 1936. More than 200 were killed and 1,000 injured in the violent storm, which obliterated many historic homes and buildings in Gainesville.
Following World War II, the area economy recovered. Poultry replaced cotton as the local cash crop, spurring job growth as new industries emerged to support production and processing of chickens and eggs. As row-crop farming declined, so did soil erosion. Verdant pastures and tall trees soon re-covered the raw, red clay of North Georgia.
Buford Dam, just south of Hall County by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s, created 38,000-acre Lake Lanier with its 540 miles of shoreline. Millions of visitors each year now enjoy recreational water sports provided by the lake, easily accessed from Atlanta via several major highways. Additional diversification in the County's economic base has come with new industries attracted to Hall County by Lake Lanier and its quality of life.