Saturday, September 12, 2020

East Point Historical Society Museum

The East Point Historical Society was founded in 1979 and today they're the stewards of its museum's growing historical collections documenting life in East Point, Georgia, prior to its charter to modern day. It's open and free (donations gratefully accepted) to the general public.

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

Housed in the 1913 Historic Morgan House, which was donated to the City of East Point and moved from its original location on East Point Street, the East Point Historical Society Museum is currently in the process of reorganizing its collections into a chronological display, a format adapted by many museums for more fluid storytelling.

On a personal note, I lived in East Point for a year in the early 1990s, when I worked in Alpharetta, during a time before the GA-400 Connector was open! So, I had to make my way to I-285 from East Point and take it to GA-400 and then up to Alpharetta. I was more than happy to pay the $.50 toll when the 400-Connector opened. The toll was only supposed to be in place for 10 years...but, that's another story for another time. 

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

The artifacts on display are wide in range. These baby booties date back to East Point's pioneer days. Also, there are architectural elements from East Point's 1916 Russell Theater. And be sure to notice the architecture of the Historic Morgan House, home of the museum. I particularly like the coffered ceilings!

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

In 1992, longtime resident and railroad enthusiast Bill Cooper founded the East Point Railroad Museum—at 71 years old! He secured a space for the museum, a 1910 vintage building that once housed the police department's communications operations in downtown East Point. 

Unfortunately, it seems, not quite enough citizens caught what Mr. Cooper coined as "railroad fever". Perhaps one day there may again be an East Point Railroad Museum. 

In the meantime, many of the artifacts are today at the East Point Historical Society Museum, including the above pictured locomotive steam whistle and the original 1992 East Point Railroad Museum plaque, which bears the mayor's name and the names of then East Point City Council members, including Bill Cooper's son, Timothy Cooper.

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

To say that Marie Tyre Glauzier was a highly active East Point citizen would be a gross understatement. While involved in many organizations, in addition to being a career-woman with the U.S. Department of Transportation, she was active with the Dahlia Society of Georgia, the Southern States Dahlia Society, and the American Dahlia Society. Further, Marie was a certified judge of dahlias and did so across the globe, including the United States, England, France, and Australia! 

The above pictured shirt is one of two that Marie made from ribbons she and her husband, Ranson Osborne Glauzier, won at competitions for dahlia's they grew in East Point. Marie and Ranson wore theses shirts to competitions across the South. Known as "East Point's Dahlia Lady", Marie passed away in January 2004. She was also a charter member of the East Point Historical Society.

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

Lots of school memorabilia is on display including brightly colored school band and cheer leading uniforms from "The Highlanders" of Headland High School. Headland High School and Briarwood High School were merged, as were their names, to create Woodland High School, which was closed in 1988 and merged with other schools. Also on display is the last American flag to wave over the campus of Headland High School before it closed.

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

Being former U.S. Navy, I was immediately drawn to the signature gray model ship on display. This particular model is of the SS East Point Victory, hull number 645. Its keel laying date was February 5, 1945 and it was launched on March 26, 1945...these ships, critical to U.S. victory in World War II, were built expeditiously!  

Mrs. Ennis Glenn Laney, wife of the mayor of East Point 1941-1946, sponsored the ship, its christening displayed in photos above the model.

Victory ships, a type of cargo ship, were produced in large numbers in the United States during World War II to replace losses caused by German submarines. A total of 531 Victory ships were built, only two named for cities in Georgia.

Brass plates from the ship were delivered to East Point after the ship was decommissioned. They are encased in cement markers and were the inspiration for Victory Park, dedicated 1971, at Church Street and Linwood Avenue. The modest park features the markers, lamp posts, benches, and a WWII cannon.

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

The museum honors fallen heroes from East Point including Jack Robert Boatright who was the first citizen of East Point to die in World War II. He had served a tour in the U.S. Navy and had returned home with an honorable discharge, but was still on reserve duty when war was declared. Boatright was lost aboard the USS Juneau when it was sunk at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942. 

Of the 699 souls aboard the USS Juneau, 685 were lost. Jack was 25 years old. 

The white Navy uniform leggings on display are from his first tour or duty.

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

Currently growing their African-American collections, the museum already has some remarkable artifacts.

The above pictured 1910 travel trunk belonged to Pattie Lee Reaves Holmes, wife of Dr. Hamilton Mayo Holmes, East Point's first African-American physician, who began his East Point practice in June of 1910, a month after their marriage. He had an office and made rounds in a horse-and-buggy through 1922 when he purchased a Lincoln. Mrs. Holmes was one of the founders and a charter member of the National Nurses Association in 1910.

Their grandson, Dr. Hamilton E. Holmes, bought further distinction to the family by following in his grandfather's footsteps by becoming a physician. Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter became the first African-Americans to enroll at the University of Georgia, ending racial segregation at the university in 1961. After his graduation in 1963, Holmes went on to become the first African-American to be admitted to the Emory University School of Medicine.

Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary School in East Point is named in his honor.

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

If you look at East Point on a map, you'll see that it's actually southwest of downtown Atlanta, directly south of Westview Cemetery, and directly north of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. So, how did East Point get its name? According to a 2015 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it was initially a notation in an engineer's report of where a railroad into west Georgia would start

Years later, the name stuck and the area officially became East Point when a U.S. Post Office opened a location here in 1851.

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

When you visit, be sure to make time to visit the lovely grounds. 

In 2019, very detailed 1987 Landscape Master Plan of the Historic Society Complex produced for the City of East Point were uncovered. The East Point Historical Society immediately began working with Trees Atlanta, which has made a number of plantings, and a community garden was being planned.

East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
East Point Historical Society Museum | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

I do not know the future plans for an East Point Railroad Museum, but their 1910 engine and 1976 caboose found their (temporary or permanent) home at the East Point Historical Society, displayed on rails behind the Historic Morgan House.

There's also a time capsule that was buried 1997 somewhere on the complex to be opened on the city's 150th birthday in August 2037...only 17 years to go!


2 comments:

John Tackett said...

Thank you for the wonderful story on the East Point Historical Society and Museum.. They are doing our best to preserve the history of the City of East Point.

Their website has just gone live and is a work in progress. https://www.eastpointgahs.org/

John Mullinax said...

An impressive highlight that represents but only scratches the surface of all that is enshrined there. I really enjoyed the presentation.