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Column: The answers to a slew of local trivia questions
Johnny Vardeman

In case you missed it, last week’s column was a list of local history trivia questions. If you did miss it, you should read these questions before you read the answers below, which are in the order they first appeared:

  • Lake Warner was the name of the lake on the Chattahoochee River before Lake Lanier formed. It was backed up by Dunlap Dam and besides providing electric power became a popular recreation area at the end of what is now Riverside Drive in Gainesville. A.J. Warner was the main man behind the project.
  • The Rotary Tree, the large holly at the intersection of E.E. Butler Parkway and Green Street in Gainesville, was planted and dedicated to Mary John Dunlap (Mrs. Byron) Mitchell by the Gainesville Garden Club. A plaque on a stone contains the dedication beneath the tree. Gainesville Rotary Club lights the tree every Christmastime.
  • Sears once had a catalog store at the intersection of Maple and West Washington streets just off Gainesville’s downtown square. It also had a store in Sherwood Plaza and at Lakeshore Mall.
  • Three hotels operating in downtown Gainesville in the 1950s were the Dixie-Hunt, Princeton and Wheeler.
  • Habersham County was named for Col. Joseph Habersham, a former Savannah mayor who had a summer home in the county. He was a Revolutionary War officer, active in state politics and was named U.S. Postmaster General by President George Washington.
  • Lumpkin County was named for Wilson Lumpkin, who served in the state legislature, as Georgia governor, U.S. representative and senator.
  • WGGA was Gainesville’s first radio station, founded in 1941 by Charles and Lessie Smithgall in a little white stucco building on Athens Highway.
  • The Gainesville Eagle was a weekly newspaper that turned into the Gainesville Daily Times in 1947, later renamed the Daily Times, now simply The Times. The Eagle was founded in 1860.
  • First National Bank was followed by Home Federal Savings and Loan Association on the site now occupied by SunTrust (Truist) between E.E. Butler Parkway and South Green Street in Gainesville.. 
  • In the 1980s, a Winn-Dixie Supermarket was at 1101 Washington St. behind Home Federal in Gainesville. 
  • The Boys’ Club in Gainesville started in an old house on Sycamore Street, now E.E. Butler Parkway.
  • Gainesville’s Civic Center on North Green Street was originally planned as an armory. Construction was interrupted by World War II and resumed after the war. The National Guard operated for years in the downstairs of the building.
  • In addition to the Ritz, Royal and State theaters in downtown Gainesville, the Roxy for many years operated on Athens Street, now E.E. Butler Parkway.
  • Hall County’s two drive-in theaters in bygone years were the Skyview on Atlanta Highway and Lake Lanier on Thompson Bridge Road.
  • Gaybourn Mills on Oak Street and Owen-Osborne on Spring (now Jesse Jewell Parkway) were two hosiery mills that once operated in Gainesville.
  • Tommy Aaron of Gainesville won the Masters Golf Tournament in 1973.
  • Chattahoochee Golf Course originally was located where American Legion Post 7 at the end of Riverside Drive is today. It was succeeded by a course in the vicinity of the end of Rainey Street in Gainesville and was covered by Lake Lanier. The present Chattahoochee Golf Course off Thompson Bridge Road was built after Lake Lanier was formed.
  • A monument to the apple, the Big Red Apple, stands in Cornelia, a tribute to the area’s apple-growing era.
  • The Big Bear Café on Cleveland Road in Gainesville once kept a bear, later a lion, in a cage outside. The building still stands beside Johnny’s Barbecue and has served as a liquor store and several restaurants.
  • The University of North Georgia in Dahlonega was founded as North Georgia Agricultural College in 1871. For many years it was known simply as North Georgia College.
  • The Appalachian Trail begins on Springer Mountain in Dawson County.
  • Confederate Gen. James Longstreet is known for spending his final years in Hall County, but his childhood was spent in White County.
  • Redwine United Methodist Church on Poplar Springs Road in Hall County was the site of the formation of Confederate Co. D, 27th Ga. Inf., Colquitt’s Brigade, to fight in the Civil War.
  • At one time, First National Bank had offices in downtown Gainesville, Brown’s Bridge Road, South Hall, Sherwood Plaza and Lakeshore Mall.
  • Before it built at its present location on Gainesville’s North Green Street, First Baptist Church was at the corner of Washington and Green streets. A fire destroyed that building in 1960.
  • Gold was discovered in White County on Duke’s Creek in Nacoochee Valley in 1828.
  • Lee Gilmer Airport in Gainesville served as a Naval Air Navigation Radio School in World War II. The city took over airport operations after the war.
  • Quarterback Billy Lothridge and tight end Billy Martin graduated from Gainesville High School in 1959 and had illustrious football careers at Georgia Tech before playing several years in the National Football League.
  • Jack Roberts, who graduated from Gainesville High in 1949, had an outstanding all-sports career in high school, played football and baseball at the University of Georgia before playing in the pros and coaching.
  • Cris Carpenter of Gainesville and Jody Davis of North Hall were among other Hall Countians over the years having successful professional baseball careers.
  • Beulah Rucker Oliver founded the Industrial School off Athens Highway to train workers for jobs in industry. A museum and educational center founded in her honor are located on Athens Highway in Gainesville.
  • The Citizens Bank preceded Bank of America, and its first location was in the Jackson Building in 1913.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501; phone, 770-532-2326; email, or

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