Previously published April 29, 2015, in Buford Weekly Illustrated
I would venture to say that if you talked to any native of Buford or Sugar Hill, he would have a positive story to tell you about Larry Bailey. That story may stem from his cabinet shop, his love for classic automobiles, his direction at the People’s Bank and Trust, or simply his pride in his hometown.
There are two important aspects of his life in which he contributed to the preservation of Buford’s history, the first way, lesser known than the second, that Larry saved our history was by donating trophies won by Buford’s semi-professional baseball team, the Shoemakers, from the 1930’s through the Star of WWII. Many newcomers to the area have no idea that during the glory days of baseball the city of Buford had a semi-pro baseball team that beat the Atlanta Crackers two games out of three, won the Denver Post Tournament, and in 1938 won the semi-pro World Series in Wichita, Kansas.
Larry donated these trophies to the museum thus cementing their proper place for public enjoyment.
The trophies were on Earth during a bigger preservation project and were the second way Larry enhanced our history: he restored the Bona Allen mansion. At a time when it was in need of major repair and slowly becoming an eyesore, Larry and his wife Doris spent nearly a year and a half painstakingly restoring their future residence. In an interview with the Gwinnett Daily News, Larry joked, “I’m told when Bona Allen Sr. and his family lived here they had two cooks, two chauffeurs, two butlers and 10 or 12 groundskeepers. We won’t be able to have all of that. She (indicating his wife Doris) is going to be the cook and I’m going to be the chauffeur.”
During the restoration he found the trophies stored in an isolated part of te basement, where they had been for years. Once probably occupying the front window of The Bona Allen Chemistry Lab on Main Street, the trophy collection was removed (thank goodness not discarded), stowed away and simply forgotten — rediscovered by the Baileys.
Lynn Bowman has a deep love and appreciation for Buford’s rich history. He shares his knowledge as curator of the Museum of Buford and through his many Buford History articles.