A Tale of Two Fires

1916 Fire
The fourth courthouse (1898-1916) caught fire on September 14, 1916 during the early hours of the morning (Courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“When knowledge is scant or conflicting, folklore takes over.” – Paul Smith

The stories that we tell, as a society, are a kind of collective imagining, a method to interpret and understand the world that we live in. Folklore serves a way to fill in crucial knowledge gaps, and aides in explaining the inexplicable. Such was the case in DeKalb County where the courthouse has undergone six iterations. Two separate versions of the courthouse burned under mysterious circumstances, and interesting tales have, in the past century, have sprung up to decipher the cause(s) of the fire. These folktales are well-worn, passed down from one generation to the next, and continue to have resonance in the present. Even as recent as 2016, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution repeated these myths when discussing the two fires. This causes one to wonder: do these folk-tales have any truth to them? Continue reading “A Tale of Two Fires”

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