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New Holland Springs was popular resort
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White Sulphur Springs in eastern Hall County perhaps is the best known of the mineral springs resorts during their heyday in the last part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century.

Much has been written about White Sulphur because many North Georgia residents remember it before it burned in 1933. It had been established in 1849.

Less is known about New Holland Springs, which operated during the same era, but not as long as White Sulphur or other North Georgia resorts.

Joseph Rivers, a pioneer Gainesvillian, is believed to have bought the property originally and developed it as a resort. The area at that time apparently was known as Limestone Springs. The New Holland name originated with Edmond Holland of Atlanta, who later bought the property and upgraded it into a first-class resort. Holland was a prominent Atlantan who dealt in finance and real estate. He died in 1909 and is buried in Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery.

In the 1888 brochure touting Gainesville's attractions, reprinted in recent years by a group of Gainesvillians, New Holland Springs was described as "one of the boldest and largest in the country, the flow being 200 gallons per minute." The resort itself was "situated in a beautiful and extensive grove of native oaks. There is a hotel with comfortable cottages for guests at this spring, and owing to its ready accessibility is very popular with families from Atlanta and other cities of the state."

The brochure described the water as " ... efficacious for indigestion, general debility, and especially recommended for teething infants and children." Limestone Parkway, which connects Jesse Jewell Parkway with Cleveland Road, gets its name from Limestone Creek, which still runs through the area.

The place indeed was popular with Atlantans, and their newspapers often wrote about people staying there and the benefits of the Gainesville area in general.

A journalist staying at New Holland Springs wrote, "Gainesville is a notably moral place. The young men are temperate and high toned; the young ladies modest and circumspect; no slang and nothing fast."

Bill Arp, a popular Atlanta writer who visited Gainesville often, said, "Of all the places I visited Gainesville is best for good health and long life ... Gainesville is a clean white town and the prettiest place to play marbles in all North Georgia." The marbles reference was to the town square in 1887 when the county courthouse had been torn down there and rebuilt off the square. It gave a chance for boys to play marbles on the newly cleared square, Arp wrote.

Arp bragged on Hall County for building the new courthouse for $30,000 and owed no money on it. He said citizens refused to build the building by issuing bonds because they didn't want to be in debt.

As for New Holland Springs, he wrote that some Hall Countians wanted Gen. James Longstreet's Piedmont Hotel there, "but I like the old-fashioned simplicity of the hotel and cottages nestled among the trees."

Apparently a lot of other people did, too, as New Holland Springs was the site of numerous conventions and other special events.

In 1878, it was host for the state convention of Young Men's Christian Association. That same year a benefit for victims of yellow fever convened at New Holland and the Piedmont Hotel.

In 1880, the Athens Guard camped there, pitching tents among the trees on the hillsides. The 32 men performed a dress parade at the train depot before setting up their camp.

One of the biggest events was the reunion of the First Georgia Regiment that fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. More than 170 veterans assembled there in 1883. Speeches and other activities took place in the resort's banquet hall.

The Georgia Press Association also used New Holland Springs as a base for its annual convention. As the years passed, however, the hotel and cottages deteriorated, more resorts and springs opened, and business at New Holland Springs diminished.

Along came Pacolet Manufacturing looking for a mill site in 1900, and it purchased the property as well as other adjacent acreage. It built about 200 homes on the hills across from the mill, and the New Holland name carried over to the new village and mill that remain today.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. His column appears Sundays and on gainesvilletimes.com.

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