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Women in History

Alice Henry Strickland, First Woman Mayor of Duluth, GA

In March of each year we celebrate the great accomplishments of women in the Southeast area. 

Alice Strickland was the first Woman Mayor of Duluth  and all of Georgia. She and her husband built their home on Main Street and completed it in 1898. When there was a outbreak of illness in children, she brought doctors from Atlanta and turned her home into a makeshift hospital to care for them.  There were no doctors in Duluth at that time. Another floor was used for birthing new mothers.
See the history of Opal Watson who served as President  of the Georgia State Women's Christian Temperance Union from 1970 to 2008.
Other exhibits show the beautiful handwork on linens, tating, needlepoint, embroidery and handmade lacing from years gone by.

Additional displays reflect current women's contributions

The Duluth Fall Festival

In the first week of September each year we set up the display honoring the Duluth Fall Festival Organization. They have done so much for the City of Duluth and supported other organizations in the city. The Festival is always held the last weekend in September.   

The purpose of the Festival is to promote the general welfare and beautification of Downtown Duluth and unite our citizens within the community to work together for the common good.  Over the years, the downtown area has changed so much and had many enhancements partly due to the proceeds from the festival.  

So many people have come together to promote Duluth to be a better place to live, work and play. The Duluth Fall Festival  excels in meeting its purpose and serving its community. The unique thing about this wonderful endeavor is that it's completely run by volunteers.  Indeed, many of their volunteers
will tell you that it's the very friendships they've developed through that event that keep them coming back year after year.

It's no exaggeration to say that they are more like a family than a group of volunteers. In addition, it's also exciting to have young people involved in the Festival continuing the love of Duluth and giving back to make it a better place to live and raise a family.

Accomplishments of Duluth Fall Festival:

(All Proceeds have gone to Downtown Duluth since the Beginning!)

  • 1983 to Present (on-going)  Landscaping, Trees, Shrubs, Planters, Brick sidewalks, Lantern Posts - Building renovations, etc.  Funding Concerts, New year's Eve Celebration, Duluth Christmas tree & Lighting Ceremony, etc.  

Below - List of Main Projects (though various others, as named above, went on as usual):

  • 1996 – Bought Taylor Park with City $100,000 (paid 1/2)
  • 2000 – Built Festival Center – Borrowed money from City
  • 2006 - Festival Courtyard bricked, landscaped $125,000
  • 2008 - Added extra restrooms to Taylor Park $40,000
  • 2009 - Sponsor Board & Park Entrance $40,000
    • Plantation Shutters Festival Center – $20,000.
  • 2011 - Eastern Continental Divide Monument - $11,000.
  • 2012 - Final payment on Festival Center to City - (total $1,300,000.00)
  • 2013 - Donation to Red Clay Theater $35,000
    • Hardwood floors in Festival Center - $25,000
  • 2014 - Paved/landscaped, etc. in-city parking lot-$100,000
    • Remodeled Festival Center - $30,000 
  • 2015 - Check for $60,000 for Red Clay Music Foundry Marquees
    • Check for $250,000 for Parsons Alley.
  • 2016 - $25,000 to City to go towards new tractor 
    • Two art projects
    • Donation to Kathy Fincher 911 Sculpture - $10,000
    •  Mosaic by Jennifer Freeman in Parsons Alley - $25,000
  • 2017 -  Brick wall in Dreamkeepers 911 Sculpture - $25,000
    • Duluth Cluster Schools Foundation - Annual Gift $10,000
    • Duluth Bike Racks   $6,000
    • Police Camera for Town Green  $6,000
  • 2018 Festival Donations to Duluth:
    • $120,000 for:
      • Taylor Park playground equipment
      • Redoing Park Gazebo
      • HVAC for Festival Center
      • Grading & graveling carnival area for parking 
    • $4,000 - run power under railroad tracks
    • $7,500 - repair bricks and landscape on Town Green
    • $1,500 - Police Awards Banquet & LEAD Sponsorship
    • $10,000 to Duluth Cluster Schools Foundation
  • 2019 Festival Donations to Duluth:
    • $67,000 for concept design, etc, for train viewing platform
    • $75,000 to Downtown to add to summer entertainment
    • $1,500 for Police Awards Banquet & LEAD Sponsorship
    • $10,000 to Duluth Cluster Schools Foundation

The Military exhibit was one of the first displays that we developed. We take great pride in presenting many photographs, uniforms and original art work of the people in the south and the hero's of Duluth. We salute all branches of service.  

We dedicate our time and effort in honor of not only service connected but also First Responders, Firemen,  and Police. We always salute brave men and women from our past and present. This is our largest exhibit.  It is shown from June to after Labor Day.  We encourage people to send us photos, information and/or artifacts from their military family past or current.

We also try to honor our women that worked in the hospitals and medical field camps during the wars and currently deployed. They were and still 
are a valuable asset.

Ann Parsons Odom, Artist

Ann Odum, our local artist, has created over 90+ paintings.  Two of the newest and largest murals (4' x 5') of original art work that she has recently completed now hang in our Museum. They depict the downtown streetscapes from the 1930's and the late 1940's.  They replaced the original mural that was painted on the brick wall of the Parsons Building before it was demolish. She was also the first recipient of our Impact Award.

Ann began her art career late in life. She decided to take the "Famous Artist"  correspondence course. Following the class, she studied with a variety of teachers  in oils and acrylics. In 1984 she added pastels.

In earlier years as a painter, she concentrated on historic paintings of Duluth and the surrounding area. Ann is a juried Member of Excellence in the South East Pastel Society and has won numerous awards in their International shows. She was voted "Best Artist" in Gwinnett County. She has designed murals for Churches and Gwinnett Tech. Some of her work has been featured in calendars and appeared on the covers of the Duluth Fall Festival Tabloids for many years.

Cities on the Rail

For the first time four great cities have come together to collaborate on their history. We have individual 9' displays for each of the cities of Norcross, Duluth, Suwanee and Buford. It helps to show why each city became prosperous as the train came thru their town.
Norcross  was the terminus (end of the line) for the railroad as of 1870. It was noted for being a tourist  town with elaborate hotels . There was much fanfare and the bands played music as the train rolled into town.Many wealthy people worked in Norcross and had their own private train box car. It was not uncommon to see more than twenty cars parked in the rail yard on weekends as the aristocrats would spend time in and around town.  Our friends at the Historic City of Norcross have provided with this document which is a walking tour of the Historic City of Norcross.
You can view it here.

After the train came to our town, it quickly became a shipping hub because of its better roads.  Three counties would come into Duluth on Saturdays to 
gin out their cotton (separate the cotton from the brown husk) and bailed them up. They were piled on the street waiting for the buyers. In the early days 
more cotton was shipped out of Duluth and Gainsville than any where else in the United States.
The town was mostly industrial and some farming. There was no source of water at the time. As they were building and digging a well, parts of the town
caught fire and burned. As they had no volunteer fire department, they had to call upon the Duluth volunteer fire department. Shortly after that, a narrow
gauge  railway was built connecting the town of Suwanee to Lawrenceville which was the County Seat.

Because of the railroad, the town had developed a large leather goods factory. As the town grew, the factory remained the center of industry. During the great depression many small businesses were forced to close. The Bona Allen Leather Factory was able step up and employee over 500 workers. They were established in 1873 and ran a wide range of businesses including a livery, shoe mfg., and harness factory. However, they were best known for the tannery.

In the early days, it's customers included Roy Rogers and the Bonanza actors, among the many. They could get custom saddles and bridles.
Still today, you can drive to Buford and drive down on Tannery Row and see a large Bronze Statue of Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger.


Impact Awards

The Impact awards are given by the Duluth Historical Society to citizens of Duluth that has shown outstanding dedication  and loyalty  to the people and the City of Duluth. 

Our first recipients were Ann Odum, Mark Williams and Cindy Brown.

  • Ann Odum:  She is the great great granddaughter of Evan Howell, Duluth's Founding Father
  • Mark Williams: Three generations of his family have assisted with many printing jobs fororganizations and the city. His time  has also been donated.
  • Cindy Brown:  Over 40 years of educating our youth in poise, balance and discipline for the love of dance. Her students give performances in and around Atlanta and Duluth.
About us

We are Duluth Georgia’s community educational support group, building strong relationships within our city and county. (more)

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Duluth Historical Society
3595 Buford Hwy,
Duluth, GA 30096

Duluth Historical Society is a non-profit 501 c3 organization. All donations are tax deductible.

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