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Northeast Georgia History Center redesigns exhibit
Glen Kyle, director of the Northeast Georgia History Center, talks about the reopening of the poultry, textiles and Lake Lanier exhibits. The History Center will unveil the updated exhibits to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The Northeast Georgia History Center is revealing its newly revamped Land of Promise exhibit today to show visitors what Northeast Georgia is all about.

Today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is the grand opening of the exhibit, which is free, and will include light refreshments.

Managing Director Glen Kyle said the exhibits were redesigned to reflect the importance of the textile industry, poultry industry and Lake Lanier on the development and growth of the region.

Kyle said the beginning of the move from farm toward industry in Hall County began with textile mills.

"At the turn of the century, what you had was a big textile boom in the area," Kyle said. "They would build a mill and then the mill would actually build a village around it, like out of Chicopee or New Holland. It basically created a small community with housing, schools, health care and stores."

A loom from the Chicopee mill is on display at the museum.

But when the textile boom slowed down, Northeast Georgians started looking toward a more profitable industry.

That’s when the chicken business got started.

The poultry industry is still what Gainesville and the surrounding areas are known for, and Kyle said the large-scale operations really got started around the 1940s, when Jesse Jewell revolutionized the poultry industry.

"He (Jesse Jewell) was really the fellow who brought it all together," Kyle said. "He was the Henry Ford of the poultry industry."

The exhibit starts from the beginning, Kyle said, "taking the story of it from when it was just chickens in everyone’s backyard and they would take the eggs and use those to sell for extra money or trade in town, all the way up to World War II, which is when the big boom really started, up to the current day when 3 million chickens per week are processed in Georgia."

The exhibit even looks like a chicken house.

"It’s completely built from pieces of an original chicken house," Kyle said.

The Lake Lanier exhibit features the history of the man-made lake, starting from the groundbreaking of the Buford Dam on March 1, 1950. It even includes watercolor representations of the different species of fish in the lake by local artist Rhea Metcalf.

Sunday is family day from 1 to 4 p.m. It’s free for members and children 12 and younger. It costs $3 for nonmembers.

Kyle said Sunday’s theme is "Chicken Sunday," highlighting the poultry aspect of the Land of Promise exhibit. There will be egg candling — an old-fashioned way of inspecting eggs by holding them before a flame to see if they have one or two yolks — crafts and even some chicks.

Author Homer Myers also will be present to sign his biography "Pass the Chicken Please: The Life and Times of Jesse Jewell."

The Northeast Georgia History Center is revealing its newly revamped Land of Promise exhibit today to show visitors what Northeast Georgia is all about.


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