Forsyth made the grade as an excellent hostess as she welcomed almost 200 visitors from around the state, and a few from other states, into her historic homes and public buildings on Saturday, June 8. Despite downpours of rain throughout the day, both guests and the locals who greeted them declared the Georgia Historic Trust Expedition to Forsyth a resounding success.
The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation periodically holds day-long, self-guided tours called “expeditions” at towns around Georgia to showcase the town’s history and development through historic sites. The purpose is to tell the story of the town’s heritage while showing preservation and revitalization and to have fun. Funds raised support for preservation and educational programs.
The Forsyth Expedition included 18 sites, including an orientation at the old Mary Persons High School auditorium and and closing reception at the former city hall annex on the square.
Dennis Lovello of the Georgia Trust, who works with Expeditions and other events across the state, was complimentary of the Forsyth Expedition.
“There were just enough sites, and they’re diverse. There was a little bit of everything, and the tour was walkable,” he said. “The Expedition gives people enough to want to see more, to come back on their own.”
Lovello said preservation is about the present, not the past. Expeditions give people a chance to come together and experience places. He said many people have seen the Tift College campus from the interstate and have always wanted to know more about it and see more of it. He said homeowners who have restored an historic home usually want to show want they have done.
“It is the ultimate recycling,” said Lovello. “It is leaving a legacy.”
Joy Smith, who hosted visitors at the Rose Theater site, said 150 visitors were counted there. She, Rhett McMurray, Abbie Bunn and Dennis Smith each told the guests about different aspects of The Rose.
“It was a good day,” said Kerri Swearingen, who hosted at the American Legion site. “Even the weather didn’t hold anyone back.”
Blanche Presley and Isabelle Tanner hosted at Tanner’s home. They said the stream of guests was so steady they didn’t really have time to grab lunch. They said all went well with the tour at their site.
One of the most enthusiastic teams was the one that hosted at the Hubbard Dormitory. They dressed in Hubbard T-shirts and all had welcoming smiles.
“It was great,” said Mary Chambliss. “We were late [to the closing reception] because people kept coming.”
“They showed up in spite of predictions we were going to get five or six inches of rain. I’m proud of them,” said Hubbard Alumni Association member and Monroe County commissioner Larry Evans. “They were some of the friendliest people I’ve met, and I met most of them.”
Several of the people on the tour commented that they enjoyed meeting Evans and learning about the Hubbard Dormitory from him and other members of HAA.
Houses and sites on the tour included: Tanner House, 167 West Main Street; Williams House, 76 Indian Springs Drive,; Brunson House, 190 West Johnson Street; Bass House, 318 Indian Springs Drive; Conley Building; Monroe County Historical Society; Ponder Hall at Tift College; 12 East Johnson Street; Welcome Center; Rose Theatre; Monroe County Courthouse,; American Legion Hall; Hubbard Dormitory.
Other highlights were the Ensign-Goolsby-Cantrell House (88 Indian Springs Drive), an Italian Renaissance Revival style home that was built in 1922 for Oliver Phelps Ensign that remained in the family until 2012; the Jones House (302 Sunset Terrace), which was designed by Leila Ross Wilburn, one of the first female architects in Georgia; and the House of Seven Gables (133 Indian Springs Drive), also known as the Proctor-Taylor-Hill House, which was built in the 1890s and is a great example of the Carpenter Gothic style, the Bogle-Kyte House (225 N. Indian Springs Drive), which was constructed in 1914 and was once called “one of the handsomest homes in Forsyth.” The Bogle-Kyte House was one of three historic houses donated to the Georgia Trust by Wal-Mart in 2010 and restored in 2012 by Percell and Veronica Kelley, who eventually restored the other two houses.
The next Georgia Trust Expedition is in Dalton on Aug. 10. Visit georgiatrust.org for more information.