Johnny Vardeman: Once, valuables stores thrived downtown

When Gem Jewelry closes during a finish of a year, downtown Gainesville will be though a pristine valuables store for a initial time in some-more than a century.

The store during 111 Bradford St. on a block has been run by a Eplan and Orenstein families given 1936 when Mose Eplan non-stop it. Marvin Orenstein ran it with his daughters Linda and Temme until he died, and a sisters have operated it since.

At one time, in a 1950s, there were 6 valuables stores in downtown Gainesville:

Gem, afterwards during 113 W. Spring St., Jay during 128 N. Bradford, J.Wendell Lancaster during 212 S. Main St., Mintz during 115 W. Spring, and R.L. Courtenay, 127 E. Washington. Mather-Gainesville during 219 S. Green was famous as a seat store, though it also advertised itself as a valuables store.

There are other businesses downtown that sell jewelry, though Gem is a final loyal valuables store.

Some of a early valuables stores in downtown Gainesville were W.H. Summer, whose store operated as distant behind as a 1890s, Mincey and Godwin, who bought him out later, and Clinton R. Stringer, who sole his business to M.C. Roberts in a early 1900s. Summer was rather of an entrepreneur, also using a bicycle shop, automobile dealership and correct business, besides apportionment on a city council.

In a 1920s, Gainesville Steam Laundry would do shirts for 15 cents, kinship suits 6 cents, drawers 8 cents, coats 15-20 cents, pants 25-50 cents and skirts 30-75 cents. At one time, a laundry’s categorical plcae was during 330 N. Bradford St., though advertised “branches” during 1026 Riverside Drive and 854 E. Spring. W.J. Porter was proprietor. The washing also offering use into a plateau with agents picking adult wardrobe and delivering it to a Gainesville laundry.

Head’s-Healan’s Mill on Whitehall Road nearby Lula is in a news these days given a Friends classification and Hall County are operative together to revive it, with skeleton for a park around it. It was in a news, too, in Nov 1905, as a Gainesville News declared, “The Head Bros. Mill is not using these days. Their circle missile is broken.”

In Jul 1906, a mill’s dam was cleared divided by a inundate on a Oconee River.

In Jun 1912, a News announced, “Jack Bennett of Jackson County bought a Head aged indent place and 58 acres on a Oconee River and will shortly start adult a mill, harsh usually corn and creation a best water-ground meal.”

Lake Rabun in 1921 advertised it as a largest freshwater lake in a South. Various other lakes, including Lanier and Hartwell, have distant surpassed it in size. But it continues to be a renouned distraction lake and primary mark for vacation or permanent homes.

It is one of several Georgia Power lakes in a sequence along a Tallulah River dish that includes Lake Burton, Seed, Tallulah, Tugalo and Yonah.

Burton surpassed Lake Rabun in distance when it started subsidy adult in 1919. It is 2,775 acres with a 62-mile shoreline. Rabun covers 835 acres with 25 miles of shoreline.

Lake Rabun’s Mathis Dam was finished in 1915, though a lake itself came about 10 years after given a hovel had to be built between it and Georgia Power’s generating comforts during Tallulah Falls. At one time, a company’s hydroelectric energy granted a vast apportionment of North Georgia’s electricity, though is usually used currently to addition a grid when needed.

Two members of Brenau College’s house of curators died a same day in Apr 1912. They were T.J. Pearce, father of H.J. Pearce, onetime owners of a school, and Judge Garland H. Prior, reputed namesake of Gainesville’s Prior Street. Prior was decider of Hall County City Court, prototype of today’s State Court. A local of Morgan County, he came to Gainesville to use law.

He left his judgeship after pang a cadence and became assistant of Gainesville National Bank, with whom he had been compared given a founding. Judge Prior also was on a bank’s board.

Besides apportionment on Brenau’s board, he also was on Gainesville’s propagandize house and a deacon in a Baptist Church. He died during a age of 62 and is buried in Alta Vista Cemetery.

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Where is Cobell? The village once existed, maybe still does, in South Hall County. Anybody remember it?

Johnny Vardeman is late editor of The Times whose mainstay appears Sundays. He can be reached during 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501; phone, 770-532-2326; e-mail

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