Thursday, September 30, 2010

30 September 2000: Nuçi's Space Opens

On this day in 2000, Nuçi's Space opened in an old warehouse at 396 Oconee Street. Inspired by the memory of her son, Nuçi, a talented young musician who committed suicide in 1996 after five years of struggling with clinical depression, Linda Phillips created the Nuçi Phillips Memorial Foundation, a non-profit to provide cheap but safe rehearsal space, affordable equipment rentals, a performance and coffee bar space, and counselling referral services for the musicians of Athens.

Nuçi's Space refers those who contact them for counselling to therapists and psychiatrists with whom they have negotiated a discounted rate. The organization subsidizes most of that rate, making the out-of-pocket cost a more affordable $10 or $20 per session. Musicians referred to professional counselling services are encouraged to continue to come back, hang out, and spend time at the Space, "to use the Space as a support system" because the organization understands that "for every person helped, countless others benefit, including family, friends, and community." They also host a Suicide Survivors support group the third Wednesday of every month.

The organization has expanded their medical assistance programs since 2000, because most musicians do not have health insurance. They offer short-term prescription drug assistance, have a volunteer physician come twice per month to see musicians with minor problems, offer subsidized eye exams and glasses through a partnership with Five Points Eye Care, and have an annual visit by an audiologist.

Services are funded through donations and fundraisers, as well as the nominal fees for rental services, both of equipment and of their sound-treated, climate controlled, and well-equipped rehearsal spaces. Nuçi's Space also offers both summer and after school versions of Camp Amped, where young musicians can explore the band experience  in a supportive, directed environment.

For their 10th Anniversary, Nuçi's Space is holding an Open House on Friday, October 1st, at 5:30pm, that includes a silent auction of autographed music memorabilia and live music. On the same day the winner of the raffle fundraiser for an all-inclusive trip to see Drive-By Truckers in Virginia will be selected. The next morning at 9am is their 7th annual 5k S.P.A.C.E. race (Suicide Prevention Awareness and Community Education) on the UGA campus, and on October 22nd, Terrapin Brewery is having a benefit night for the Space featuring a brewery tour, live music, and a limited edition 10th Anniversary pint glass for those who attend.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

27 September 1833: Legislator Madison Davis Is Born

On this day in 1833, Madison "Mat" Davis was born a slave in Athens, Georgia. He was owned by a local carriage maker, but was freed at the end of the Civil War at the age of 31. He spent some time as a U.S. Customs Surveyor in Atlanta, and in 1866 was Captain of Relief No. 2, Clarke County's first black fire company. Davis was "involved in" the purchase of land for the Knox Institute school that opened in 1867, named for Major John J. Knox, the Athens Sub-District Assistant Commissioner of the Freedman's Bureau.

In 1868, Davis and another former slave, Alfred Richardson, were elected to represent Clarke County in the Georgia House of Representatives. That September, members of the Georgia Legislature decided that while it may be legal for black men to vote, there was nothing in the state constitution that made it legal for them to serve as representatives. Of the 29 black men elected to the Georgia House, 25 were ejected, with a committee appointed to investigate the backgrounds of the four representatives who could not immediately be proven to be more than one-eighth African-American, including Madison Davis. After the investigation, two more representatives were expelled, but Davis and former Union officer and Wilkes County representative Edwin Belcher, were not "because of their light complexions." In 1869, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled black legislators did have the right to hold office, and the expelled representatives were reinstated.

Davis was re-elected in 1870, and was considered "an efficient lawmaker." He introduced bills to build a new Georgia Railroad line through the city of Athens, and in the 1870-1871 session passed a measure to provide assistance to a prominent white family in Athens that had fallen on hard times after the war. He was, however, considered a black politician, and both of his electoral wins were dependent upon the black vote. He chose not to run again in 1872, and pursued a career in real estate. Davis remained active in Republican politics, and in 1890, he was appointed Postmaster of Athens by President Benjamin Harrison.

In the 1870, 1880, and 1900 censuses, and the 1889 Athens City Directory, Madison Davis is listed as living with his family, his wife Ella Church Davis and their children and sometimes their grandchildren, on Newton Street. The couple was married for 44 years, and several of their children were also engaged in serving their communities. Their daughter Elizabeth married A.M.E. Bishop Archibald J. Carey, Sr., and daughter Mattie Beulah married C.M.E. Bishop James A. Bray and was president of the black Women's Club of Athens. Their son James P. Davis was an administrator in the Federal Department of Agriculture, and an informal advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of the "Black Cabinet" in the 1930s.

Madison Davis died in December, 1902, at the age of 69. Athens newspapers of that time are incomplete, so it is unclear if his death was acknowledged. He is buried in Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery in Athens.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Get Your Newsletters!

On this day, we'd like to remind you about two newsletters from the Heritage Room that you can have delivered to your email Inbox.

Genealogy Events newsletter comes out near the end of each month. It includes events in the Athens area and all around Georgia related to historical research, events, people, and places; history- or genealogy-related exhibits and displays; as well as meeting information for area history and genealogy groups.
It's a great way to stay on top of what is happening.

We will also have a
Genealogy Tips newsletter that will be sent every few weeks with news of new resources, programs, or developments in the wider genealogy world. That world is growing larger every day!

Simply follow the links above (or
click here) to see the current newsletters and sign up today!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

22 September 1909: Artist Lamar Dodd is Born

On this day in 1909, Lamar Dodd was born in Fairburn, Georgia. He grew up in LaGrange, and at age 12, made an arrangement to mow the lawns at the LaGrange Female Academy, then an all-girls college, in exchange for taking art classes at the school. At 19, after a year of studying architecture at Georgia Tech, he went to New York to study at the Art Students League of New York and also took private lessons with George Luks of the Ashcan School, a movement of artists who believed in realism as a way to express the energy and changing images of the city around them.

Though well-received in New York, Dodd returned to the south in 1933, working in an art supply store in Birmingham, Alabama, and painting at night. In 1936, he received the Norman Wait Harris Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago's 47th exhibition for his painting Railroad Cut, now part of the permanent collection of the Georgia Museum of Art. The next year, Dodd was invited to be artist-in-residence at the University of Georgia, part of a national trend of sponsoring working artists on campuses as the universities attempted to establish fine arts programs.

In 1938, at the age of 27, Dodd was asked to head the department and build it into a national program. He created an active program of artists-in-residence, and invited others to guest lecture at the University throughout his tenure. The mural on the front of the recently restored Fine Arts building was painted by Jean Charlot in 1941 when the art department was housed there with the music and drama departments. Dodd advocated art as an important part of the human experience in everyday life, not something rarefied or exclusionary.

During Dodd's time at the helm, the School of Art expanded their programs to include printmaking and ceramics, as well as enhancing the existing programs of decorative art. The Georgia Museum of Art opened to the public in 1948, and growth of the art school throughout the 1950s necessitated a move to its own building, which opened in January, 1963, on Jackson Street. The modern style was not beloved, but was open to natural light for both studio and exhibit space, and was needed for the 800 students who used the building each day.

As the art school grew, so did Dodd's career. He continued to paint and exhibit, and also serve as President and Vice President of the College Art Association of America. In the 1950s, he was named U.S. Specialist to Europe for the State Department, and was an envoy in the first cultural exchange between the United States and Soviet Union. In 1963, he was one of nine artists invited to participate in the NASA Art Program. He watched the moon landing in 1969 from mission control in Houston, and worked with NASA through 1974, resulting in his Cosmos series of paintings. In 1972, Dodd was the official artist for the Department of the Interior, working in Colorado and Washington state.

In 1970, the Art School established the Lamar Dodd Professorial Chair of Art "to honor artists of international standing who have maintained a distinguished record of exhibition," and began the University's first study abroad opportunity for students in Cortona, Italy. Dodd retired in 1972, but continued to paint for the rest of his life. In April, 1996, UGA renamed the School of Art the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Dodd died later that year, the day before his 87th birthday.

Today, the Lamar Dodd School of Art is one of the largest university art programs in the United States. In addition to semesters in Cortona, Italy, the school sponsors Maymester study abroad programs in Costa Rica and Ghana. They offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in Art History, Art Education, Studio Art, and Fine Arts with concentrations in visual media from metalwork to interior design to scientific illustration to photography. Over 1,000 students are enrolled in the school, with a mission of not just creating art, but also "create a receptive environment for the visual arts."

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Learn How to Plan Your Event in Athens!

On this day, we'd like to tell you about a free program with Amy Clark, the Leisure Travel Marketing Director of the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau.

On Saturday, September 25, 2010, at 2:00pm in the library auditorium, Ms. Clark will describe what the Athens Convention and Vistors Bureau can do to assist you in having a stress-free and successful reunion gathering or other group event here in the Classic City.

This program is co-sponsored by the Heritage Room and the Clarke-Oconee Genealogical Society, and no registration is required. (It will also be over hours before Georgia kicks off against Mississippi State in Starkville, so you won't miss a play.) Please call (706) 613-3650, ext. 350 or email the Heritage Room for more information.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

18 September 1901: Coach Harry Mehre Is Born

On this day in 1901, Harry Mehre was born in Huntington, Indiana. He would attend the University of Notre Dame from 1918-1922, playing lineman for legendary coach Knute Rockne, including undfeated seasons in 1919 and 1920. After a year of coaching and playing for the independent professional team, the Minneapolis Marines, Mehre was hired as an assistant coach at the University of Georgia by Bulldogs' head coach George "Kid" Woodruff. He started work in Athens on April 1st, 1924.

Former Notre Dame players for Rockne were in high demand in college football at the time, with many schools hoping to replicate the Irish's success using the Notre Dame Box, a variation of former Georgia Coach Pop Warner's single-wing formation that opened the game up for passing. It was, however, the Irish's defeat of Georgia Tech, 35-7, in 1923 that convinced Coach Woodruff to hire Notre Dame assistants, starting with Mehre in 1924, and followed in 1927 by Jim Crowley, one of the famous Four Horsemen.

After the 1927 season, Coach Woodruff left football to return to the business world and recommended Coach Mehre for the head coach position. Coach Mehre would lead the team for a decade, including the inaugural game at Sanford Stadium on October 29th, 1929 versus the Yale Bulldogs, a game called "one of the greatest football spectacles ever in the South." Southern governors traveled to Georgia for the event, and Athens was a city of celebration in the week leading up to the game. When the Yale team arrived, most of the city and student body was there to welcome them to town, and the Yale band marched up College Avenue, playing "Dixie" when they reached the review stand set up at City Hall. Georgia won the game 15-0.

During his tenure at UGA, the Bulldogs became a nationally known and ranked football team. They beat Yale five times in a row, and upset Fordham in 1936 when they were the favorites to play in the the Rose Bowl. A man of many talents, Coach Mehre filled in for Georgia's basketball coach, Herman Stegeman, in 1931, and handed revered University of Kentucky Coach Adolph Rupp his first loss as a Wildcat, with a 25-16 victory for the Bulldogs.

Coach Mehre's record at UGA was 59-34-6 when, in 1938, he took the head coach position at the University of Mississippi. In his first game as Coach, his Rebels beat the LSU Tigers 20-7 in Baton Rouge. During his eight years at Oxford, he won four games in a row over the LSU, a first for a Mississippi football team. In 1946, Coach Mehre retired from coaching and went into business. He later became a football analyst and sports columnist for the Atlanta Journal, and was a popular speaker at Touchdown Clubs around the south. He was known for his self-depreciating wit and ability to tell an hilarious story.

Coach Mehre wrote for the newspapers for 22 years, before going into retirement in the 1970s. He died on September 27, 1978 in Atlanta. On April 25, 1987, Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall opened on the University of Georgia campus, housing athletic offices, facilities, and a Bulldog sports museum that is open to the public.

Much thanks to Loran Smith at the Georgia Athletic Association for his assistance to the author in writing this article.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

More New Books in the Heritage Room

On this day, we'd like to tell you about more of the new books now available in the Heritage Room.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Books in the Heritage Room

On this day, we'd like to tell you about more of the new books now available in the Heritage Room.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

12 September 1912: "Tuneful and Catchy" at the Morton

On this day in 1912, the following notice ran on page 8 of the Athens Banner:


The Brooks-Smith players will play "The Charming Widow," tonight. In fact an entire change of program will take place--new songs, the kind that are tuneful and catchy. Every member of the caste [sic] is a star and they have quite a lot of expensive costumes for every play. The troupe is considered about the best in repertoire that has ever played at Morton Theatre.

The Morton was hosting the Marion Brooks Stock Company, featuring comedian Speedy Smith. The initial ads promised "Good Singers and Dancers" at "Popular Prices," though no prices were published in the Athens Banner. To keep audiences returning, they changed their show for their third night.

The newspaper did offer a review of the first show, calling it "another big hit," and observing that
A large audience witnessed the play, which was amusing in the extreme. The singing and dancing received unusual applause. The after piece seemed the hit of the evening when Speedy Smith, the leading comedian was at his best.

This particular show was likely a "tab" (or "tabloid") show--an abridged version of a longer, more complete musical comedy stage show based on old variety shows. They had elaborate costumes and multiple scenery changes to keep the audience engaged. A typical tab company included between 12-15 members, including dancing girls, several actors and singers, one or two comedians, a piano player, and sometimes a novelty act. Shows lasted one or two hours, and were often performed twice per day.

The Banner did not publish a review of "The Charming Widow" or the new songs. Notices for the Morton did not regularly appear in the Banner, which tended to cover the newest shows at local whites-only theaters extensively. Much larger stories, with photographs and profiles of leading ladies, ran for the Oscar Hammerstein Comic Opera Company's production of "Naughty Marietta" which was coming to the Colonial Theatre the following week.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

10 September 1908: Alleged Thief Nabbed in Bicycle Chase

On this day in 1908, three Athens police officers captured an alleged gun thief, Homer Favors, after an all-day chase that took them from the police station in Athens to Crawford, Georgia. The distance between Athens and Crawford is approximately 15 miles, and at the time, most roads were unpaved.

As reported in the Weekly Banner the next day, after Officers J. P. McCall, Fred Seagraves, and J. F. Short
ran on Favors yesterday morning near the River street bridge over the Oconee river and as soon as they could get to the station house Officers McCall and Short took their bicycles and started after him.

He had a pretty good start of them [sic] but he was afoot and they were on wheels. About five miles out near Winterville they phoned to the chief at city headquarters that they were closing in on (Favors) and hoped to soon catch him.

Chief McKie told them to go ahead until they got him.

The next heard from them was at Crawford yesterday afternoon about five o'clock and the message told of his capture at that place.

Favors himself had made a good run, as well as the policemen, having run afoot from Athens to Crawford in about six hours. He was brought back to the city last night and will be turned over to the state court.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Learn How to Build Your Family Tree, For Free!

On this day, we'd like to remind you about our next Getting Started with Genealogy class on Thursday, September 16th, 2010, from 6-8:30pm in the Heritage Room.

In this free, informal session, we'll walk you through the basics of researching your family history. The class is designed to help you begin the construction of your family tree, and to teach you about the resources available in Athens that will be useful to you. The class includes handouts, and is useful even if you aren't looking for relatives in Georgia.

Free and open to the public, but registration is required. Call (706) 613-3650, ext. 350 or email us at to register.

Please bring a pencil for taking notes, and a sweater, as the Heritage Room can be chilly in September. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

5 September 1904: Classes Begin at East Athens Night School

On this day in 1904, East Athens Night School had its first day of classes. New students could enroll during the first two weeks of school, and the Weekly Banner noted at the end of the first week:

The outlook for the school is the brightest in years and the attendance promises to be a record -breaker. The scholars return to their books with great enthusiasm and the teachers look for a year of splendid results.

All young men or young women, boys or girls, who work through the day, are cordially invited to register for the fall term. Tuition and books are provided free of charge. The only expense is for pencils and exercise books. A lecture course will be arranged, bookkeeping taught to the more advanced, and special attention given to mathematics and penmanship.

The library has been overhauled and a number of new books added. The bath room will be open every evening and all day on Saturday.

All young people who would like to improve themselves during the evening hours will be given a cordial welcome by Miss Louie Lane, the teacher in charge, and her assistants.

This institution is one of the best in Athens and is doing a vast amount of good, and the people of the city naturally take a great deal of interest in it.

The East Athens Night School was located "in the factory district," and during the day, the building was used for the Athens Women's Club's kindergarten. Though the school primarily was a way for those who had worked from childhood to gain a basic elementary education, the addition of bookkeeping was no doubt a response to the demand for competent office workers in the expanding economy of the early 20th century.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

2 September 1940: Labor Day Movies in Athens

On this day in 1940, it was Labor Day in Athens, Georgia, and large ads appeared in the Athens Banner-Herald for movies to be watched in cool air conditioning on the last day of summer.

The Georgia Theatre, "Cooled By REFRIGERATION," offered as their "Labor Day Treat To You" the movie Sporting Blood, starring Robert Young and Maureen O'Hara. The promotional poster promised "Romance in the land of hoss-feuds!" and "Photo-finish excitement!"

The Palace Theatre, merely "AIR CONDITIONED," offered the movie My Love Came Back, starring Olivia De Havilland and Jeffrey Lynn, with Eddie Albert and Jane Wyman. The movie is called "The Freshest Thing in Years!" and included the tempting synopsis of "Malicious Gossip! Lovers Part! Things Happen!" It also promised to "Laugh Your Blues Away."

Air conditioning in public buildings, such as movie houses, was still a relatively new experience. Willis Carrier first patented his "Apparatus for Treating Air" in 1906, and created the larger machines capable of cooling large public buildings in 1922. The first air conditioning units in the south had been installed in movie theatres in Dallas and Houston, Texas by the Carrier company in 1924.

In 1940, most homes did not have air conditioning, and it was often as much of an attraction as the movie, shorts, and newsreels themselves. Both the Palace and Georgia theatre names in their ads are illustrated to appear to be covered in frost and snow.

The Georgia Theatre is currently being rebuilt, but the Palace Theatre on College Avenue was eventually razed. In its location now is the College Avenue parking deck(pdf).

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