On this day in 1976, Boy Scout Troop 76 hosted an open house at the old Franklin Hotel on Broad Street. The building had been left empty since 1972 when the Athens Hardware Company, formerly the Childs-Nickerson Hardware Company, moved from the site after 107 years at the same location.
The Franklin Hotel was built in 1845 by William L. Mitchell*,
Two members of Troop 76, David Griffin, who was looking for an Eagle project, and Greg Curtis, who was looking for a Life project decided to team up to clean up the mess left behind in the building. At the time of the Open House, the Franklin Hotel was for sale by the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, which had bought and stabilized the structure through fundraising from citizens and a grant from the National Park Service. There were no plans in place to renovate or restore the space, but the work of the Scouts had peaked the interest of residents. The Scouts felt the Open House would be an opportunity to tell people about the Franklin Hotel's significance to Athens, as well as show some of the old items found inside.
In 1977, the Franklin Hotel was sold to Hugh Fowler, then later to a business property company. The space was restored as office spaces, and won recognition for the work by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Today, businesses such as general contractors and advertisers occupy the building, as well as SunO Desserts.
* CORRECTION: The William Letcher Mitchell who owned the Franklin Hotel was the less illustrious cousin of the William Letcher Mitchell who was a University of Georgia trustee. The two led very different lives, but are often confused in histories of the University and city of Athens. The blog apologizes for the mistake, as it is aware this confusion is often an issue, yet succumbed to the common error anyway.
- Athens Observer, Jan. 1976 - Jun. 1976 on Microfilm in the Heritage collection.
- Annals of Athens, 1801-1901 by Augustus Longstreet Hull in the Heritage collection.
- Antebellum Athens and Clarke County, Georgia by Ernest C. Hynds in the Heritage and general collections.
- A Postcard History of Athens, Georgia by Gary L. Doster in the Heritage and general collections.
- History of Athens and Clarke County, Georgia by H. J. Rowe in the Heritage and general collections.
- Franklin House page on the Vinson Institute of Government website.
- Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation website.
- The Georgia Trust website.
- Historic American Buildings collection on the Library of Congress website.
- National Register of Historic Places website.