The Lithonia Historic District DeKalb County has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The district is outlined by the city limits of Lithonia. The nomination was sponsored by the city and the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance.
Originally a crossroads settlement that served the trading needs of a small community of rural farmers, Lithonia grew with the development of the Georgia Railroad. The rail line, which runs through the commercial center of town, connected Lithonia with Atlanta and Augusta in 1845. Beginning in the late 19th century, the line allowed Lithonia to prosper as a center of the regional granite industry. Lithonia gneiss, which the city is named for, has played a role in construction throughout the U.S. since 1879. Lithonia gneiss features prominently in much of the district’s architecture, reinforcing the importance of the granite mining industry to the city’s development.
The Lithonia Historic District is a large, diverse district comprising the intact historic resources within the current and historic municipal boundary of the city. The district is composed of a central commercial core, surrounded by residential development representing common late 19th- to mid-20th-century house types and styles. Main Street, the principle commercial corridor, runs perpendicular to the Georgia/CSX Railroad corridor, which bisects the district. Commercial buildings, constructed largely of brick and locally-quarried gneiss, are concentrated in a two-block area extending south along Main Street from its intersection with the railroad. Most storefronts are utilitarian in design with minimal detailing. Some noncontributing infill, including Lithonia Plaza (1968), a large commercial development surrounded by parking, is located on Main Street. The district includes a large number of community landmark buildings, including the Masonic Lodge (1916), the Lithonia Woman’s Club (1928), the Lithonia First United Methodist Church (originally Lithonia M.E. Church, 1910), Antioch Baptist Church (1911), Lithonia Presbyterian Church, The Union Missionary Church (1911), the Bruce Street Elementary and High School (1955), and “The Seminary” (1895), which was individually listed in the National Register in 1978.
The National Register of Historic Places is the country's official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts worthy of preservation. The National Register provides formal recognition of a property's architectural, historical, or archaeological significance. It also identifies historic properties for planning purposes, and insures that these properties will be considered in the planning of state or federally assisted projects. National Register listing encourages preservation of historic properties through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants. Listing in the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property.