Saturday, February 7, 2015

Cumming Library Receives Grant for Medical Pioneer Exhibit


Forsyth County residents can now take a stroll through our community’s history at the Cumming Library thanks to support from the Forsyth County Arts Alliance Fund at the North Georgia Community Foundation and Citizens Bank.

A display of two historical murals created by local artist Bryan White, along with a segment of fence from the old Mary Alice Hospital, comprise a new permanent art exhibit at the Cumming Library, located at 585 Dahlonega Road, Cumming.

Local photographer and artist Bryan White of Whitelake Studios was commissioned to create a set of murals for the exhibit. White’s work is some of the most recognized in North Georgia. Several of his photos have won awards in state, regional, and national competitions, including an exhibit at Disney’s Epcot sponsored by Kodak.  White created artwork for the Post Road Library and the new pieces at the Cumming Library serve as the second library collection of White’s work which highlights the history of Forsyth County.

“From the very start, the Library Board members and myself wanted to make sure the artwork had a historical connection and provided an interactive approach for the viewers,” commented White.  The exhibit includes two photo collages including 76 distinct photos joined together on a field of historical newspaper clippings, prescriptions, hotel registers, and store ledgers.

Library Board Chairman Mary Helen McGruder notes, “From a small county seat in a small county in the 1950’s, Cumming and Forsyth County have become one of the most desirable places to live and work in the country.  While we continue to celebrate our successes, it is also helpful to be reminded of those who worked hard and had a vision for a better place for their children and generations to come.  We are reaping the benefits of those who fought to bring Lake Lanier to North Georgia, to build GA 400 and to bring business and medical facilities to our community.”

Long-time Forsyth County residents will recognize several landmarks that have been renovated, restored, or torn down over the years. For example, the old Forsyth County Hospital located on Samaritan Drive is featured in the upper right corner of the first mural. That building still stands, but today it serves as a home for several community-based service organizations, such as the Forsyth County Community Connection, Whispering Hope Women’s Resource and Pregnancy Center and Forsyth County Head Start.

A photo of the front entrance of the first Goodson Drug Company is included in the bottom right corner of the first mural. The pharmacy first opened on the Cumming square in 1959 and has been family-owned and operated since that time. A portrait of founder Jim Goodson is located near the store’s image.

The second mural expands past the medical pioneers of our community and highlights other key historic businesses, churches, and construction projects.

The most notable image is the groundbreaking ceremony at Buford Dam that launched the construction of Lake Sidney Lanier. Images of the groundbreaking and subsequent excavation are featured along the bottom edge of the mural.

Local businesses such as Dairy Queen, Parsons, Ingram Funeral Home, and Bagwell & Mathis Tire also feature prominently in the second mural. These businesses still exist today, though their buildings and locations have changed over the years.

Newcomers to the area will enjoy a glimpse of small-town history, with pictures of one of the old Courthouse that burned in 1973, the Bank of Cumming that has since been acquired by successively larger banks, or even the County’s first jail that was built in 1893.

“If a dose of history is just what the doctor ordered,” says Denise Leeson, Cumming Library Branch Manager, “our patrons can learn more about the history of medicine, commerce, or government in Forsyth County by accessing the source materials the artist used to create the exhibit.”

“Many of those resources are housed in the Library’s local history reference collection, and books by local authors Annette Bramblett and Gladys Barrett were vital to the creation of the murals,” Leeson added.

Research support for the project was also provided by the Historical Society of Forsyth County. The City of Cumming and the Heritage Village at the Cumming Fairgrounds also arranged for access to several historic artifacts pictured in the exhibit.

“We are grateful to those who helped us bring this project to completion and we are looking forward to our next murals which will be at the Hampton Park Library and will highlight the development of the poultry industry in Forsyth County,” says Chairman McGruder.

For more information, or to view the exhibit, please visit the Cumming Library.

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