Lawrenceville is a city in and the county seat of Gwinnett County, Georgia, in the United States. The Census Bureau estimates the 2010 population at 28,546. Lawrenceville has six ZIP codes (30042-30046, 30049); it is part of the 678/770/404 telephone area code, which is used throughout metropolitan Atlanta.
Lawrenceville was incorporated by an act of the Georgia General Assembly on 15 December 1821. This makes Lawrenceville the second oldest city in the metropolitan Atlanta area. The city is named after Commodore James Lawrence, commander of the Frigate Chesapeake during the War of 1812. In 1821 a permanent site for the county courthouse was selected and purchased, the four streets bordering the square were laid out along with other streets in the village, and a public well was dug. Major Grace built the first permanent courthouse, a brick structure, in 1823-24 for a cost of $4,000. The courthouse presently on the square was constructed in 1885.
William Maltbie, the town’s first postmaster, suggested the name “Lawrenceville” in honor of Captain James Lawrence, a naval commander during the War of 1812. Lawrence, a native of New Jersey, is probably best known today for his dying command, “Don’t give up the ship!”
Courtland Winn served two terms as mayor starting in 1884 when he was 21 years old.
The two most famous people born in Lawrenceville gained their fame elsewhere. Charles Henry Smith, born in 1826, left as a young man and lived most of his life in other Georgia towns. During the Civil War he wrote humorous pieces for Atlanta newspapers under the name Bill Arp. He has been described as the South’s most popular writer of the late 19th century, though he is not much read today. Ezzard Charles, born in 1921, grew up in Cincinnati, where opportunities for African-Americans were far better at the time than in the Deep South. He eventually became the World Heavyweight boxing champion by defeating Joe Louis by unanimous decision on September 27, 1950.
Another resident, Oliver Hardy, became a world-renowned comic actor, a member of the film duo Laurel and Hardy from the 1920s to the 1940s. He lived as a child in downtown Lawrenceville around 1900. But his stay was brief, because his family moved often within Georgia.
Larry Flynt and lawyer Gene Reeves, Jr., were shot from near this archway while walking to lunch
Lawrenceville was one of many venues in the nation where Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt faced obscenity charges in the late 1970s. On March 6, 1978, during a lunch break in his Lawrenceville trial, he and his local attorney Gene Reeves were shot by a sniper near the courthouse. Both survived, though Flynt was seriously disabled. Years later, imprisoned serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin claimed to have been the shooter, but he never produced any proof and was not charged in the case. (Franklin was executed in 2013 in Missouri for a 1977 sniper slaying.) A heavily fictionalized treatment of the Flynt shooting can be seen in the 1996 movie The People vs. Larry Flynt.
Since 1988, Lawrenceville has been the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church in America.
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