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Stretch your mind and legs with this outdoor history hunt in downtown Gainesville
08152017 Roosevelt Square 2
Roosevelt Square is located off the downtown Gainesville square behind the Hall County courthouse annex. - photo by David Barnes

Transforming downtown Gainesville into a space full of history and mystery is only a booklet away. 

Main Street Gainesville is now offering the free History Hunt, which takes people on a self-guided outdoor walking tour around Roosevelt Square, Poultry Park and other spots you might have overlooked.

Nicole Ricketts, Main Street manager, said the experience encompasses 2 miles and can take anywhere from two to four hours. Participants will be prompted to solve riddles, fill in missing pieces of history and uncover facts about the city.

Ricketts said the activity aims to give visitors and Hall County natives an opportunity to learn more about Gainesville’s history, while also stretching their legs and enjoying downtown. 

“One of the pillars of Main Street is historic preservation,” Ricketts said. “We’re celebrating the history that’s come from Gainesville and bringing awareness to that.”

Some of the landmarks people will encounter include the Jackson Building, Engine No. 209, Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, James Longstreet historical marker and Hunt Tower.

Ricketts said the walking tour contains a total of 20 clues, which she constructed with the help of Glen Kyle, executive director of the Northeast Georgia History Center. 

One of the clues of the hunt outlines history about the tornadoes that struck the Southeast in 1936. It explains that over 200 people in Gainesville died from the natural disaster out of the 454 total deaths. 

When people read these facts, they’ll be standing in the area where two of the tornadoes converged.

“It was fun to put it together,” she said. “I learned a lot through this process.’”

Jennifer McCall, former Main Street board member, said she has lived in Gainesville since middle school and still found out new and interesting facts about the city. 

“I didn’t know that the first private mint was in Gainesville,” she said. “I also didn’t know that the Hunt Tower used to be this grand hotel.”

Ricketts recommends the History Hunt to adults and older kids who enjoy deciphering challenging riddles and clues.

The guide booklets can be picked up from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, at the Gainesville Convention & Visitors Bureau, located at 117 Jesse Jewell Parkway. For more information, contact Ricketts at

Downtown Gainesville History Hunt

What: Outdoor walking tour full of historical riddles and clues to solve

Where: Throughout downtown Gainesville

Booklet pickup: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Gainesville Convention & Visitors Bureau117 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville

More info: Email Nicole Ricketts at

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