By Nicole Burns

  Several generations of the Magnum family who owned Magnum General Store pose in front of the likeness of Carol and Walter Magnum.  Photo courtesy Brandon Hembree
Several generations of the Magnum family who owned Magnum General Store pose in front of the likeness of Carol and Walter Magnum.  Photo courtesy Brandon Hembree

Sugar Hill is a city that is trying to find a balance between progress and preservation. One way that the City is preserving their history is by art. The art comes in the form of a huge mural covering the side of the old city hall now the home of The Suite Spot. The mural was painted by local artist and Chairman of the Sugar Hill Historic Preservation Society, Chris Walker.

On June 9th, several hundred Sugar Hill residents come out to celebrate the mural at the Suite Spot.  A 1953 fire engine was available for photo ops and City Council Member, Brandon Hembree manned the grill.  Many residents who have ties to elements of the mural also came out.

Hembree, an avid historian described the different elements of the mural.  His dog Bella Rose was the model for the dog in the mural who is painted alongside Margaret and Brian Neal. The Neals are the current owners of the historic Shelley-Howerton home, which dates to the 1860s. The home is located off of Level Creek Road and is undergoing renovations.

One part of the mural depicts the gold mines which were so prevalent in the city’s history. The Shelley Family owned the gold mines in our community beginning in the 1880s. Another portion depicts old volunteer firefighters that served the community.  The Annex next to the old city hall served as a firehouse. The City’s “Sugar Wagon” was also represented in the mural.

Walker also painted Carol and Walter Magnum holding a string of fish.  The Magnums were the owners of Magnum’s General Store. The store which is still intact is located near the railroad tracks.  Several generations of the family were present at the celebration.

So many changes are taking place in Sugar Hill, especially it’s downtown area.  The City, Preservation Society, and city residents recognize that preserving history is especially important to preserve the city’s identity.  Sugar Hill is doing many things to try to preserve that history and the mural is just one part of that effort. Hembree always says, “history has an amazing way of connecting our past, present, and future.” and “When you take care of your history, your future takes care of itself.”

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