When the Marquis de Lafayette was visiting central Georgia, he remarked that the countryside reminded him of La Grange, his French country estate. Because of his heroic status in the American Revolution, the people of LaGrange, Ga., named their town in honor of Lafayette, George Washington’s aide-de-camp.
Today, Lafayette welcomes visitors from his fountain perch at the town’s center, a replica of the LaFayette statue located in LePuy, France. And visitors toss coins into its water as part of a long-standing tradition.
According to town legend, Lafayette told Col. Julius C. Alford that tossing coins into wells brought luck. Upon leaving for the Creek Indian War of 1836, Alford tossed a coin into one of the two LaGrange wells and said, “Here you go, Lafayette.” His men decided to do the same.
Today, the custom continues but with two coins, to double a person’s chances at luck, and within the Lafayette fountain. Luck seekers stand with their backs to the Lafayette statue and toss a coin over their shoulder and make a wish. Then they turn and face the Marquis and toss the second coin while making another wish. If they so desire, they can add a “Here you go, Lafayette” as well.
|Explorations in Antiquity|
LaGrange and the homage to Lafayette sits south of Atlanta on the road to Montgomery, Ala., a sweet collection of charming historic buildings, downtown murals, the historic LaGrange College and nearby West Point Lake.
The home and gardens at Hills &Dales estate is a must-see to any visit to the region, offering a tour of the home and the 176-year-old gardens. The Italian villa on the 35-acre property was built by textile magnate and philanthropist Fuller E. Callaway Sr., accenting gardens begun by Sarah Coleman Ferrell in 1841. Some of the estate’s many features include a boxwood garden shaped with a “God is Love” message, a greenhouse full of magnificent orchids and other flowers and ancient magnolias.
|Hills & Dales|
For something truly unique, LaGrange’s Explorations in Antiquity Center offers full-scale archaeological replicas from biblical times, allowing visitors to walk through residences, workplaces, houses of worship and even an authentic shepherd’s tent of the Judeo-Christian times of the Middle East. There are catacombs to showcase burial rituals, plus logged crucifixes from felled trees resembling what was used at the time, as opposed to the lumber versions most of us see today. Visitors can watch docents weave on looms and shepherds create butter and attend lectures and demonstrations.
If this interactive museum with its special events and time travel experiences weren’t enough, Explorations also serves an authentic biblical meal using recipes and traditions of the First Century with a guide who explains the customs of the day as well as the meanings behind Passover and the Last Supper. Visitors will enjoy foods such as unleavened bread, olives, a salad comparable to a Greek salad and grilled chicken and lamb, among other treats. Groups are needed to request such a meal, so if you can arrange one or manage to join another do! It’s an excellent lesson in history, religion, culture and fun.