Early records show that what is now called Fairburn, was settled as early as 1830. In 1833, the town was founded as Cartersville, changing its name one year later to Berryville. According to historian Lucian Lamar Knight, Fairburn was probably named for a township in the County of York, England.
Fairburn’s town charter was enacted by the State Legislature in 1854. The jurisdiction of the town government was set within a 600-yard radius from the railroad depot, this land then being the two counties of Fayette and Campbell. This period also marked the beginning of the decline of Campbellton, population 1,200, also the County seat, whose leadership wanted no involvement with the railroad. After the legislature agreed to move county boundaries several miles to the east, Fairburn became the most desirable location for a new county seat. Campbell County administration abandoned the Campbellton Courthouse which was moved to temporary headquarters in Fairburn in 1870. A new county courthouse was built and occupied there in 1871. Many Campbellton residents moved away at that time.
In 1906, the city limits were extended to a one-mile radius from the depot. That same year, a system of public schools was authorized. In 1909, the limits were expanded to include forty acres on the north side. The Fairburn Hotel was destroyed by a fire that same year.
The downtown area of Fairburn is a Commercial Historic District that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings located along West Broad Street between Smith and Dodd, and those adjacent to the Atlanta and West Point railroad, are all included in this district. The district includes approximately 20 different commercial buildings and the two train depots. They are late 19th and early 20th century buildings. The building styles range from Neoclassical to Italianate, to simple utilitarian. The Campbell County Historical Society is located in the Old Campbell County Courthouse on West Broad Street. The Courthouse is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an institutional resource. The Old Campbell County Historical Society is a non-profit group that cares for the old courthouse and hosts scheduled tours and educational activities.