By Jim Simpson

At the most recent Sugar Hill City Council meeting, resident and former council member Mike Sullivan stepped up to the podium to address the assembled members and citizens. “Today is actually my mother’s 80th birthday. I was sharing that with [council member] Brandon Hembree and he said, ‘Well, she’s just two weeks older than the city itself!’ ”

Sugar Hill officials and residents celebrated the city’s own 80th birthday on March 24 on the Promenade overlooking The Bowl and the large fountain, while the longhorn and bulldog sculptures stood at attention below.

Among them were Jack and Stephanie Wolfe, celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. The couple had made a list of 45 simple things to do together, and the birthday party made the list. The two have lived in Sugar Hill for 13 years, and Jack is on the Downtown Development Authority, while Stephanie’s office is in the mural-covered Suite Spot across from the E Center. Stephanie says they love the entertainment venues and connectedness of their “sweet city.” 

Sugar Hill was a Georgia Militia District since 1886 before being chartered as a city on March 24, 1939. Much has happened in Sugar Hill’s 80 years as an official city when section two of the act creating the town in 1939 read in part that it “shall embrace the following territory: Beginning at the present city limits line of the City of Buford on the Southern Railroad tracks … extending south along said railroad in the direction of Atlanta, Georgia…” making it the 10th incorporated city in Gwinnett County.

The “unofficial” story of the town’s name is that a wagon traveling up a hill from Buford to Cumming broke a wheel, spilling its load of sugar. Thus the area became known as “the hill where the sugar spilled.” Another story involves the fine, sugary texture to the gold found in the area.

The first city council meeting was held at a J.B. Mercier’s barber shop on Highway 20, and the first ordinance passed by the mayor and council prohibited the sale of wine, beer, or liquor within the city limits. What would the original officials think of the recent “Brunch Bill” that was passed, allowing liquor sales at restaurants by 11 a.m. on Sundays?

Duck Pins Bowling Alley opened in 1949 consisting of just four lanes. Duckpins are shorter than those used in ten-pin bowling, and the ball – at least back then – was the size of a large grapefruit, made of solid wood with no finger holes. The lanes closed in the late 1960s, but the sport is still played sporadically throughout the country.

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