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Lanier Glass Co. closes after 53 years

Atlanta Highway business started in a chicken house in 1958

POSTED: October 9, 2011 11:02 p.m.

The building for the former Lanier Glass Co. sits empty after housing the Gainesville business for 53 years. Lanier Glass installed glass and constructed storefronts in schools and other businesses all over Northeast Georgia.

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It may not be the oldest business in town, but after 53 years of operating, Lanier Glass Co. has closed its doors and goes down as one of Gainesville's most long-lived businesses.

Before opening the company, Doug Brannon was working with Gainesville Glass following a stint in the Army. But after a few years he decided to start his own business.

"We had no money, so we borrowed enough to get a truck and some things like metal and glass," said Evelyn Brannon, Doug Brannon's widow.

In its first few years of existence, Evelyn Brannon said Lanier Glass was slow to get going but eventually became successful.

"I told my grandchildren we ate a lot of green beans," she said. "But then it got better and we were making a good living."

Doug and Evelyn Brannon began the company in a chicken house in Gainesville in 1958 and 10 years later partnered with Ed Garrett.

"I was with Carroll Daniel (Construction Co.) as a project engineer at the time and Doug needed help, and I wanted to venture into business too, so we got together and joined forces," Garrett said.

In 1992, Doug and Evelyn Brannon retired, leaving Garrett with sole ownership of the company.

But a sluggish economy and declining health led Garrett to make the tough decision to close Lanier Glass on Sept. 30 and retire.

"Business had been good up until recently. I was tired and I couldn't put the effort into it and business got slow," Garrett said.

Garrett blames the 2008 recession that slowed all construction business as having a direct impact on Lanier Glass' revenues.

"We hung on for two years but were not that profitable the last two years," he said.

After nearly 35 years with the company, Evelyn Brannon was disheartened to learn Lanier Glass would no longer be in business.

"That broke my heart because I had been involved with it for many years and it's sad when it's no longer in existence," she said. "It's a shame because it was a good business."

Even though the last few years of business weren't as glamorous as Garrett and the Brannons had once experienced, they are not left without fond memories.

"We had a successful business," Garrett said. "We were always a small company and I wouldn't say we ever made a great amount, but we always made a comfortable living."

Lanier Glass mainly installed glass and constructed storefronts in schools and other businesses all over Northeast Georgia.

"We did a lot of buildings all over Northeast Georgia and all the way up to the North Carolina line," Garrett said.

Attempts to find a buyer to take over the business were unsuccessful, which left Garrett with the only option to close down.

He is now left with the task of liquidating stocks, any remaining inventory and other equipment.

Abe Davidson constructed the building that housed Lanier Glass for most of its existence. The company's previous location in the former chicken house was only temporary and the Brannons moved into a newly constructed building in the early 1960s.

Davidson, who taught at Brenau University, also sculpted the Chicken Monument off Jesse Jewell Parkway commemorating Gainesville's status as "Chicken Capital of the World."

"Abe (Davidson) had a little studio right beside us where he did a lot of his private work," Garrett said. "He did a lot of stuff. He was an interesting man."

The view down Atlanta Highway is drastically different than it was in the 1960s, Garrett recalled.

"There wasn't a whole lot of things over there," he said. "There were just a few car lots back then."

After about 50 years of occupancy, Lanier Glass' former home now sits empty waiting for its next tenant.



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