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'It's been exciting to see it grow': Warner Robins family reflects on city's past as it celebrates 80 years

The Taylor family recall Thomas Elementary and the Houston Mall in reflection of the International City.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — The City of Warner Robins turns 80-years-old this month. The city, that was first known as Wellston, was incorporated as Warner Robins in March of 1943. 

It has since blossomed into what we now call The International City.

"We got here probably late 46, 1946 that is," Cheryl Taylor said.

After serving in WWII, her father was looking for a place to move their family, and begin working. He settled them in Warner Robins, and in 1947 he started Warner Robins Supply Company.

"The first store was right where the police station is now, the law enforcement center I should say," Cheryl said. 

She remembers attending first grade at Thomas Elementary School. It was a grammar school, that now sits where Middle Georgia State campus is. Taylor says she used to walk home from school.

"Would you let a first grader walk three or four miles home alone now...no," she said.

By second grade, she was in a new school. 

In 1952, Westside Elementary was built. She says that school opened in an empty field behind her home on McArthur Boulevard. 

"It's really been exciting to see it grow," she said.

After finishing up high school, she went off to college and was away from Central Georgia for several years. 

In that time Jim Taylor saw the area grow even more.

Jim moved to Warner Robins in the '70s. He was working at the base. Jim says in his first month, the Houston Mall opened at what is now the Houston Healthcare Pavilion.

"That was a big claim to fame. When Cheryl grew up here, that was way out in the country, and it was a dirt mound, where they went to go play. Now, it's right in the middle of everything," Jim said.

He also recalls when Russell Parkway ended at Houston Lake Road. Jim says now some of the most expensive real estate sits on that street. 

He remembers getting his first apartment at Northside Garden Apartments on Northside Drive behind the high school. 

Jim says many current and retired county leaders would hang out there. 

"I never could figure out why it was called the International City for the longest time because I didn't see a lot of International representation, when it came to elected officials and chamber of commerce stuff," Jim said.

He says that's been the biggest change. 

"We now have a lot more of an international presence in our community. You've got a lot of international physicians that have moved here, a lot of  people have opened up international restaurants." 

Cheryl can remember the town always having International influence. 

"When I went to school, I went to school with kids who had been to Japan and Germany. It was exciting, we always had international influence in our schools," she said.

Jim adds that in terms of restaurants, the main one was the 20th Century Restaurant.

The county is now the largest in Central Georgia, surpassing Macon-Bibb County.

He's even noticed differenced in terms of the base. 

"When I first got here, it was C-130's and C-131's," Jim said." Now they have the Advanced Battle Management Squadron."

He says this is growing into an innovation corridor. 

When asked where they would like to see Warner Robins in 20 years, Jim says he wants to see more stuff to do. 

"People might come here to make money, but they're only going to stay here when they have that quality of life that gives them what they want," Jim said.

He says so far, they've seen more interactive things come to the area, but he'd like to see more things that target young adults. 

"We have a lot to offer, but I think we have a lot more to be able to offer," Cheryl said.

The Taylor's are excited to see the city's continued growth.

The city will celebrate the 80th anniversary on Monday March 20, at 3:30 p.m. at the City Hall. 

You can find event information here.

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