Lakeland-Lanier County

Not far off Interstate-75, in the countryside of South Georgia, lies the community of Lakeland-Lanier County, less than 20 miles East of Valdosta. This novel hometown appeals to those seeking the intimacy and enchantment of a small community, as well as those in search of the cultural, recreational, and educational provisions of a metropolitan area. This treasured jewel is a community of gracious neighbor, where behind every door awaits a friendly greeting - a warm outhern smile coupled with a kind hello.
Lanier County is a paradise where residents are surrounded by the beauty of great outdoors. Lakes swarm with fish, acres of woodlands are active with wildlife, and rivers flow steadily across the landscape – it’s an outdoorsman's dream come true. Enjoy boating, fishing, bird watching, or just a lazy day on the water at Banks Lake, a 3900-acre lake, a mixture of open waters and marshes that includes the Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge or the nearby Alapaha River. If you prefer dry land, the Robert Simpson Nature trail provides exceptional scenery for the avid and novice hiker alike. Lakeland is more than a refuge for those who love the outdoors. It is a special place, an active community with superb public services. The strength of the community is found in its citizens and their desire to meet the daily challenges of life in a small town head on with their winning recipe - positive attitudes, strong desire to succeed, and a dash of wit. Government and community agencies, organizations, and churches work together using their resources effectively to make Lakeland-Lanier County a great place to live.

Lakeland's, Louis Smith Memorial Hospital, a partner of Lanier Health Services, an affiliate of the regional South Georgia Health System, is accredited by the Joint Commission in the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and earned the Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval. Residents rest peacefully knowing 24 hour emergency services are only moments from their door.
Downtown Lakeland is as unique as it is charming. Business owners bustle with renewed spirit and pride of the updated downtown area while honoring their hometown by preserving cherished memories of days gone with the "Murals of Mill Town". Thirty-plus life size paintings depicting scenes and people of this rural community in 1920's were created to commemorate the year the town's name was changed from Mill Town to Lakeland. The murals adorn the outside of downtown buildings, shops, and storefronts, but the residents inside are what make this community a great place to live today. Visitors come from near and far to experience a day of history and fun during Milltown Motorcade Day each spring. Guides driving vintage automobiles and dressed in 1920's style clothing provide visitors and residents a festive tour of the Milltown Murals.

The Flatlanders Frolic Arts and Crafts Show is another exciting festival the community holds every Labor Day Weekend. Vendors offering a large of variety of items come from all over the East to sell their goods. Attendees enjoy eating a host of delectable Southern favorites while listening to the sounds of bluegrass music from a number of bands. You can strut your stuff at the road race or sit back and tap your feet to the beat of professional clog dancers. There is always something fun and entertaining for the entire family.

Lakeland is home to Georgia’s Deep Wood’s Deer Fest, which features a wild game supper, auction, taxidermy displays and live music. The event is sponsored by the Oaklawn Foundation, and funds are used for throughout the community on special projects. The historic Lanier Auditorium was relocated, renovated and renamed, Jim & Mary Threatte Art & Civic Center, and is now used as a community center.

Where the Past Meets the Future
The county was named in honor of Georgia state poet, Sidney Lanier. Lakeland, the county seat was incorporated in 1925 and is Lanier County's only incorporated municipality.

Throughout Lakeland's brief history the town has been renamed several times. Lakeland was originally named Alapaha Station after Banks Lake was built between 1827 and 1835 to serve as a mill pond for a local plantation owner. The mill, powered by the flowing water, was a three-story building housing a grist mill, cotton gin, and wheat and rice threshing and grinding equipment. This plantation became a gathering place for settlers to have their corn ground and cotton ginned. Soon a village called Alapaha developed around the lake and the settlement became a part of a main stagecoach route from Savannah to Waycross to Thomasville, GA.
In 1832 the name was again changed, this time to Mill Town due to the numerous mills in the area. The city's current name, Lakeland, was decided upon because of its close proximity to several lakes- Grand Bay Lake, Lake Irma, and Banks Lake.

Preserving the Past
Lanier County, the 155th county formed in Georgia, was created in 1920. The county was named in honor of Georgia state poet, Sidney Lanier. The Lakeland-Lanier County Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the past for future generations. The group seeks to preserve and record the history of Lanier County and the city of Lakeland, its residents, and architecture. Lanier County Auditorium and Lanier County Grammar School are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.