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Column: Test your knowledge of local history with this quiz
Johnny Vardeman

Time for another local history quiz. See how many of these questions you can answer. Answers are listed below.

1. Gainesville’s new parking garage is nearing completion at the corner of Brenau Avenue and Bradford Street a block off the downtown square. Name three other uses of that corner since the 1940s.

2. Name two iconic eating places that sat across from each other on the Atlanta Highway.

3. What grocery store preceded J&J Foods at the Dixie City shopping center on West Broad Street (now Jesse Jewell Parkway)?

4. What was the name of the large laundry service on West Broad Street in Gainesville that serviced other dry cleaners in the area?

5. Banking has changed dramatically over the years. Name some banks that once had offices on Gainesville’s downtown square.

6. Name two early motels in Gainesville.

7. Name four businesses that once operated in the old Chamblee Building on Athens Street (now E.E. Butler Parkway).

8. Gainesville’s fire station operated downtown for many years, first in a livery stable. Its firehouse in the old City Hall was destroyed by the tornado of 1936. What are other locations for the fire department?

9. Name three movie theaters operating in Hall County in the 1980s.

10. What was the name of the shoe store that operated for years on Bradford Street just off Gainesville’s downtown square?

11. Who was the founder and namesake of Matthews Printing Co. in Gainesville?

12. What native of Russia made his home in Gainesville and became a celebrated sculptor?

13. Georgia State Patrol had at least two offices in Hall County before moving to its present headquarters just across Longstreet Bridge on Cleveland Highway. Name them.


1. Big Star grocery store was at the corner of Bradford Street and Brenau Avenue in Gainesville in the 1940s. It was followed by Colonial Stores, the Social Security office, later became the offices of Turner-Wood-Smith Insurance Agency and served as the temporary location of Hall County Library’s Gainesville branch while the branch was being renovated.

2. Doug’s Drive-In was a mainstay on Atlanta Highway near the intersection of Browns Bridge Road for many years. The Dairy Queen/Brazier was just across the street.

3. Winn-Dixie.

4. Bay Way Laundry had dry cleaning customers as far away as North Carolina.

5. First National Bank started out on Main Street where Millner’s and Frames You-Nique later operated. It moved to South Green Street where the former SunTrust building is today, then across Washington Street to where The National is under construction. The Citizens Bank was located on the Bradford Street side of the square before moving to Washington Street with several branches throughout the county. Bank of America now occupies the Washington Street location. Gainesville National Bank once had an office at the corner of Main and Washington on the downtown square, later moving to Green Street across from The Times and becoming First Atlanta Bank, which morphed into Wachovia and later merged with Wells Fargo.

6. The Avion Restaurant and Motel on what was then Broad Street and the Elite Motel on West Broad, now Jesse Jewell Parkway. The McKibbon family operated the Avion and later another popular motel, Holiday Inn, also on Broad Street/Jesse Jewell Parkway.

7. Greenlee Funeral Home, Chamblee Drugs, Athens Street Café and Burns Barber Shop.

8. The Gainesville Fire Department had a station across from City Hall on South Green Street after the 1936 tornado. It moved to the new public safety building on Jesse Jewell Parkway and now is in the public safety complex on Pine Street. Fire Station No. 2 was built on Holly Drive in 1954, and was relocated to Cleveland Road in recent months. Other Gainesville fire stations are located on Memorial Park Drive and Nancy Creek Road.

9. Sherwood Rocking Chair Theater in Sherwood Plaza on South Enota Drive, later becoming Storey Theaters; Cinemas West on Hudgins Drive off Browns Bridge Road; and Blue Ridge Cinemas in Blue Ridge Mall off Shallowford Road. A movie theater also once occupied a part of Lakeshore Mall off West Washington Street and Pearl Nix Parkway.

10. Nickel-Back Shoe Store operated by Jim and Archie Cash.

11. Eph Matthews, a longtime veteran printer.

12. A. Wolfe (Abe) Davidson, who worked primarily out of a studio on Candler Street.

13. Georgia State Patrol once had a little brick building on Maple Street on the campus of the old Gainesville High School, which was situated on Washington Street. It later had a headquarters on Athens Street at Ridge Road.

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