Organizations: Northeast Georgia History Center
The Northeast Georgia History Center works to make the past come alive with interactive, family-friendly exhibits and programming.
“We don’t just throw out a bunch of dry names and dates,” says interim executive director Libba Beaucham. “We use the ‘living his- tory’ approach. We want you to discover something new every time you visit, and we want to be an educational resource for the entire community, teaching children to think critically.”
The Gainesville museum, which opened in 2004, was made possible through a partnership with Brenau University. Philanthropists James Earl Mathis Sr. and John Wesley Jacobs Jr. established an endowment and received support from the Doug & Kay Ivester Foundation.
Exhibits cover several eras. Step inside the White Path Cabin, a structure that was once the home of Cherokee tribal leader White Path, built around 1780. The Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame chronicles legendary athletes with ties to the area. Creative types will appreciate the folk art gallery, which includes pottery by Lanier Meaders, who popularized the face jug. One room is dedicated to the tornado that leveled Gainesville in 1936 and killed hundreds of people; a model exhibit shows children how tornadoes form.
The organization also hosts regular discussions. Recent topics have included the Dixie mafia and North Georgia’s Scots-Irish heritage. In addition, it offers a tutoring program for area kids and lends a hand to parents who homeschool, with monthly programs on topics such as Ancient Rome, the Great Depression and the Civil War.
The past teaches myriad valuable lessons, Beaucham says. “We can’t under- stand the present or future without understanding the past.”