Monday, November 15, 2010

President Theatre

The Meriwether Historical Society met on Sunday, November 14th 2010 and car pooled to Manchester to the President Theatre where members were greeted by Regina Garrett who led the tour of the 1930s Art Deco theatre.
   Garrett began by asking members present who had come to the theatre years ago and Lynda Woodall replied, “It was my mom’s babysitter on Saturday. When it opened at 9 am on Saturday we were here to buy tickets for 10 cents.  We watched the serials, news, movies and then watched them again until 4 pm and it was time to go home.” Lewis Routon and Lib Duncan also said they attended often. 
   Garrett, the Executive Director of the theatre, has raised over $250,000 for the theatre’s restoration since the project started two years ago. The theatre was built in 1935 at a cost of $22,000 and displayed in the store front area are the framed deeds by the parties and bankers involved. The restoration is estimated to cost 1.2 million but, Garrett said, contractors and craftsmen have donated their services so they are hoping to complete the project for less.
   The theatre was originally a Roy Martin vaudeville cinema with the storefront generating revenue.  Movies were becoming prevalent then so the vaudeville period is limited. Historical society members remembered Freckles the Monkey and Officer Don performing live. The memories and tid bits picked up as the restoration progresses are what keep inspired, Garrett said.
   The structure has pressed tin ceilings and has its original terrazzo floor. It is not the usual ornate Roy Martin theatre however and has minimal fancy plaster work. The front rows were set a bit further back than normal to accommodate the patients from the Foundation. The balcony was segregated with bench seating and a separate upstairs entrance used.
   Notably it was one of the few buildings to have air conditioning in the thirties-the water cooled mist system is currently visible through the walls studs.
   The future for the theatre looks good even in these tough economic times.  The plans are to create a flexible facility with the old period look but modern technologies available so that the facility can be used for video conferencing or rented for programs.  In the 1930s, the theatre held 500 people but today’s larger adult size makes 350 seats the comfortable goal.
   Currently the theatre is partnering with the Fox Theatre and planning a workday with free tickets to the Fox for the first 25 volunteers. Also, its non profit status makes tax deductible donations possible.  At the suggestion of Tyrone Elliott and with help from the Arts Council, the theatre has offered the area “an excuse to dress up” and its New Year’s Eve Gala is in its third year.  Held at the Manchester Mill, the room is transformed by Jimmy Mitchem.  This year’s theme is a Night at the Oscars. Caricature artists will be there and photo ops are in place with a delicious meal, band and dancing part of the evening and a champagne toast at midnight.
   The historical society made a small donation to the restoration efforts with a larger donation being planned.  In other business, the Honey Baked Ham Fundraiser was finalized with deliveries to be made Friday, November 19th at the headquarters building.  
   The society heard from Linda Wilburn and the status of the Better Home Town Streetscapes project which is currently out for bid and with construction expected to start the 1st of February and completed in June. The society voted to purchase fourteen 17 inch hexagonal pavers in honor of each of the historical society’s presidents.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


The Meriwether Historical Society met to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and colors at the home of Winston and Sally Neal in Mountville on Saturday, October 16th, 2010 and dined on a German meal celebrating Oktoberfest. Many members wore some piece of traditional German or Bavarian or alpine clothing with items like felt hats, vests, embroidered blouses, aprons, dirndls, or brought for display beer steins or walking sticks.
   Recognition was given to those attending who were born in Germany (Dr. Werner Linz), lived longest in Germany (Toots and Ed Hobson-22 years), and the most recent to visit Germany(Chris Sinotte).
   The Hobsons presented a short program based on their experiences in Germany. The Germans enjoy a fest, Toots said, be it a small village fest or the mega fests in Munich that celebrate their love for music, singing, dancing, good food, wine and beer. They are held for no reason other than to enjoy fun and friendship or to uphold a tradition.
   Germans enjoy participating in Volkswanderings and both Ed and Toots wore the traditional hiking outfits they often used in Germany.  Volkswanderings are organized walks through sponsoring areas of beautiful scenery like vineyards, forests, castle ruins or historical parks or flower covered fields.  It is not a competitive race but a fun activity with several thousand clubs in Germany. There are start and end points as well as at checkpoints along the way always with good food and drink stands and sometimes music. Souvenir medals are available and are highly collected by dedicated wanderers who keep a log book of places and distances walked.
    The Hobsons also brought some pieces of wood carving and Bauermalerei or folk art painting. Wood carving is a hobby and a vocation throughout Germany. The woodcarvers ofOberammergau-the village of the Passion Play-produce some of the world's finest carvings with many of a religious nature.  The carvers of the Erzgebirge Mountain region produce woodcrafts of the highest quality and are best known for their Nuss Knacker (nutcrackers) and Rauchen mannchen, little smoking men which can burn incense. Equally as prized are the myriad of Christmas items and toys. 
   Bauernmalerei is the art of folk painting on wood pieces like anything from furniture to umbrella stands, trays, or furniture.  Bavaria is especially noted for it using Bauernmalerei to decorate utilitarian objects.
   A business meeting was held while guests and members snacked on German cheese (gruyere) and breads (pumpernickel, rye and homemade pretzels) and enjoyed a variety of German beer.  President Sallie Mabon announced the society would be selling Honey Baked Hams again at Thanksgiving. 
   Members Dee Garrett, Diana Norris, and Angie Williams volunteered to make up a committee to plan the Christmas dinner.  On a sad note, Mabon announced that James and Shari Triche at the Georgian Inn would be leaving the community as the bed and breakfast and catering business has not been profitable this last year.  The club had originally scheduled their second Christmas dinner at their inn, and members who have enjoyed the Triche’s superb cuisine and service will miss them. It is quite a loss to the community.
   Sally Estes reported on the recent and exciting news about the streetscape construction inGreenville, and Linda Wilburn described the engraved pavers that can be purchased for the sidewalks.  Wilburn was congratulated for purchasing the Jones’ Print Shop on the east side of the square and announced plans to have an artists’ consignment shop there.  She said the art show last November proved to her that Meriwether was full of artistic talent and many needed a place to display and showcase their talents.
   After announcements and the business report the group dined on grilled bratwurst and sausages, sauerkraut, German potato salad, and finished with Black Forest Cake, apple strudels and apple walnut cake.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

MHS Summer Luncheon

Meriwether Historical Society enjoys period fashion show and luncheon

The Meriwether Historical Society held a summer luncheon on July 7th, 2010 for members and guests who were asked to bring a fashion treasure from the past.  The Georgian Inn in Greenville was the site of the fundraiser and cooks for the event were Sallie Mabon, Betty Clayton, Mary Anne Harman, Angie Williams, Diana Norris, Erma Jean Brown, and Sally Neal. 
   James and Shari Triche had the inn in perfect order for the fifty plus guests and the tables were decorated in the finest of chinas, crystals, and silvers by Lynda Woodall, Ellen McEwen, Mary Ellen Hill, Sally Neal, Sallie Mabon, Pam Tidwell, Erma Jean Brown, Lelia Freeman, and Nancy Riggins.
   Treasure from attics, closets, and chests were brought and guests viewed snippets of hand made lace, dried flower wedding headbands, jewelry, a college letterman sweater and dresses from several periods. Perfume bottles, powder puffs, hair, beauty, and makeup brushes gave everyone a glimpse into the past.
Lelia Freeman’s brought the woolen swimsuit, being shown by her daughter Nan, left, to Isabelle Knight of LaGrange.  The 1920-30s suit belonged to Jessie Thrash Freeman and Lelia said she well recalls its wet wool smell after swimming.

Toots Hobson was fashionably dressed in a period outfit from the forties. Few ladies are still able to fit in their clothes from the past, but Toots wore the full skirt dress well and had the matching accessories to go with it.

Sally Estes shows Jane Estes the unique bustle attached to the black silk dress worn by her ancestor.

Hannah Flynn brought the wedding dress belonging to her late husband’s grandmother who had over a decade to make the dress after the proposal until the time her intended came back from “seeking his fortune.”

Jane Morrison brought the 79 years old shoes and boucle bag that belonged to her mother, Vivian Mathews.  Worn at her wedding, Miss Vivian was married by the ordinary, the Honorable Elsie O’Neal, (a Position now called probate judge) at the courthouse on April 18, 1931.  She croqueted the boucle bag in 1935.


Welcome to the first blog of the Meriwether County Historical Society! Whether you are just surfing the internet for historical matters, or looking for specific Meriwether County information, we hope you find something that sparks your interest here. Some quick information about our great county:

Meriwether County was created on December 14, 1827 the 73rd county created. The county was named for General David Meriwether, a state militiaman often called on by the federal government to negotiate with the Indians. General Meriwether served in the Revolutionary War and was a state legislator and a member of congress. 

The first courthouse in Meriwether County was destroyed in 1893 by a cyclone. 

The county seat is Greenville, named for Revolutionary war hero General Nathaniel Greene. Warm Springs--site of President Roosevelt's "Little White House"--is in the county. The historic site, operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, draws over 100,000 visitors annually. The warm springs pools used by Roosevelt and others in the 1930s and 1940s have been renovated.

The springs' waters stay naturally at 90 degrees, and were used by Indians as a healing spring and later as a spa for white settlers. More recently, Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as other polio victims, have benefited from the therapeutic water. The Warm Springs Foundation opened its doors to people suffering from other types of crippling disease and conditions after the invention of the polio vaccination.

The Red Oak Creek flows through Meriwether County into the Flint River. It is named for the beautiful red oak trees that grow in this area. The Chattahooche-Flint Highway, a scenic highway, runs through Coweta, Troup and Meriwether counties.

As of 2000, the population was 22,534. The 2007 Census Estimate shows a population of 22,748.

The Meriwether County Courthouse
Greenville, Georgia