The History of Warner Robins
Geographically located in the center of Georgia, Houston County was established in 1821 during the Treaty of Indian Springs. For nearly fifty years the town was known as York until after the Civil War when the Georgia Southern and Florida Railroad connected from Macon to Perry. The land was donated by Henry Feagin Jr. to Chief Engineer William H. Wells to build a train station for York.
The community was later named Wellston after Wells and served as a whistle-stop for the next sixty years surrounded by dairy farms, cornfields, peach orchards, and pecan groves. When the Great Depression hit the country in the early 1930s, business leaders took an interest in the growing defense industry. The Middle Georgia business community invited the U.S. Army to build an aviation field in the region.
In June 1941 after much competition with other sites, the War Department announced the approval of the site sixteen miles south of Macon and just east of the railroad on what is known today as Highway 247 in Warner Robins. The land was purchased from 47 local families, totaling 3,108 acres, for just over $97,000 and the land was donated to the Army in August 1941. Formal groundbreaking of the airfield took place that September.
The City of Wellston agreed to build 2,000 affordable homes for new residents along with the town’s first official school and other civic buildings. The town’s business district known as Commercial Circle, now the intersection of Davis Drive and Watson, was flourishing. The town’s first depot commander Colonel Charles E. Thomas lobbied to change the name of the town to Warner Robins after his late mentor and one of the air corps’ first logisticians Brigadier General Augustine Warner Robins.
In September of 1942 citizens of Wellston agreed to rename the town and the following March, Warner Robins was incorporated. During World War II, Robins Air Field employed approximately 23,000 personnel and the new city was growing rapidly. When the war was over, the workforce was reduced to 3,900 until 1947. Robins Field was re-designated Robins Air Force Base when the escalation of the Korean and Cold War created new jobs in the City of Warner Robins.
Both the population of the city and the workforce continue to grow today. Warner Robins Air Force Base currently employs approximately 20,000 residents of the City of Warner Robins.
Warner Robins Fun Facts
Did you know that the First Bulldog Mascot for the University of Georgia came from Warner Robins? Want to know more? Stop by the E.L. Greenway Welcome Center.
If you look across Watson Boulevard from the E.L. Greenway Welcome Center toward Martin’s Barbecue Restaurant, this was the location of the first theatre in Warner Robins. The theatre was called Wellston Theatre until April of 1954 when it was renamed RAMA Theatre.
The first and oldest church in Warner Robins is Pleasant Hill Primitive Baptist Church, located on Pleasant Hill Road, and is still in existence today.
Warner Robin’s First and Oldest Neighborhood of 2,000 homes in “Robins Manor,” was built in 1942, near the North Side of Commercial Circle.
Charles Thomas School was the first constructed school building in Wellston and now serves as classrooms for Middle Georgia State College on Watson Boulevard near the Nola Brantley Library.
The first Mayor of Warner Robins was known as “Boss Watson.” His home was located where McCall’s Sandwich Shop currently stands today in Commercial Circle.