Friday, April 1, 2011

1 April 1964: Autographing Party for Athens Book

On this day in 1964, The McGregor Company bookstore on East Clayton Street hosted an autographing party for the authors and contributors to the newly published book, Athens: Georgia's Columned City by Kenneth and Blanche Marsh. McGregor Company, located where The Firehouse bar is today, sold each hard-backed, 84-page volume for $3.25.

The Marshes were not Athens natives, but from Greenville, South Carolina. Kenneth Marsh took the photographs of the buildings and his wife Blanche Marsh wrote the commentary for each published image. In their Acknowledgments page, they thank the  many locals who assisted them with the book, including Mary Claire Warren, who was also present at the signing and appeared on the front page photograph of the party in the Athens Banner-Herald the following day.

Several of the homes featured in the book have since been acquired, restored, and put to practical use by the University of Georgia, such as the Cobb-Treanor House on Lumpkin Street, the Joseph Henry Lumpkin House on Prince Avenue, and the Wray-Nicholson House on Hull Street. Interior shots of antique furniture and chandeliers in the Stevens Thomas House on the corner of Hancock and Pulaski Streets provide a glimpse into the building's past as home to the Young Women's Christian Association, before it was converted into the office space it is today.

Other buildings in the book are now gone, including the Thurmond-Cofer House on Dearing Street, which was torn down to build Dearing Garden Apartments in 1965; the Mell House on the corner of Rutherford Street and Milledge Avenue, which was torn down in the 1960s and is now the location of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house; and the Hull-Morton-Snelling House on Hull Street, which was torn down in 1990 to build an extra parking lot for the Holiday Inn. 

The Marshes published similar books together about Greenville, South Carolina; Charlotte, Bath, and Flat Rock, North Carolina throughout the 1960s. Their Athens book was the only one written about a Georgia location.

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