If you are a student of history, then you know that history is made up of stories from our past. I have often heard it stated by individuals who have gained a certain amount of wisdom in life that, if you have a past or a history, you are likely haunted or troubled by something from your past. We all have a past or a history, and the same can be said about locations or buildings. The Sugar Hill Distillery, with its trademark Apparition Brewing, is a location in Sugar Hill that has a long history in our community. It is a place that might also be haunted by its past and a young girl by the name of “Alice.”
Prior to becoming the Sugar Hill Distillery, the building served as a community center for the City of Sugar Hill. The city acquired the property from Sugar Hill Baptist Church, which is now Sugar Hill Church. The church used the location as a fellowship hall prior to moving from its West Broad Street location to its current location on Cumming Highway. The building has hosted thousands of weddings, receptions, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations and other activities over many decades. The property is also located next to Sugar Hill Historic Cemetery, the final resting place of many of Sugar Hill’s past families and community members. Several years ago, Keri and J.D. Liebrock opened the Sugar Hill Distillery. They, within the past year, bought the building from the city. In addition to purchasing the building, they also acquired its history and a ghost tale or two.
Of all the ghost tales, the stories of the haunting of “Alice” are the most common and intriguing. Even before the Liebrocks opened the Sugar Hill Distillery, there were reports by city staff of items being moved around and other strange activity. While doing construction of the distillery, contractors would ask about a young girl named “Alice” who would carry on entire conversations with visitors. Professional ghost hunters and others have since visited the distillery with the hope of experiencing “Alice” — some have been successful, and some have not. Amateur ghost hunters have also visited and experienced slamming doors, mysterious lights and moving objects. It is mystery that keeps drawing us in. It is an unknown, which has us longing to know more about the identity of “Alice.” Very few clues exist about her identity, but there are perhaps some links to Sugar Hill Historic Cemetery.
Alice Wood Roach is the only “Alice” buried in Sugar Hill Historic Cemetery. She passed away in the 1960s at the age of 84. She would be too old to be the “Alice” described by modern day visitors to the Sugar Hill Distillery. Alice had a daughter, also named Alice, who passed away in the 1920s at the young age of 16. The daughter is buried at Duluth Church Cemetery. It has been said that perhaps the younger Alice visits the older Alice. If you are inclined to think there is a connection, then perhaps this could solve the mystery of the “Alice” who haunts the Sugar Hill Distillery. If you are like me and dependent upon more facts before deciding, then you are welcome to keep searching the unknown for the known.
Ghost stories in downtown Sugar Hill are not unique to the Sugar Hill Distillery. Sugar Hill Historic Cemetery and many other properties and assets have contributed to a history that can still be felt. Whether or not you believe in ghosts or simply just don’t like ghost stories because you get really scared, it is hard to argue with the fact that past people and historical events leave impressions on locations. Sugar Hill’s past has contributed greatly toward its present and future. The Sugar Hill Distillery is an important part of our past, present and future.
Brandon Hembree is mayor of Sugar Hill. He is a 20-year resident of the city, and he uses his interest in history to detail Sugar Hill’s rich past.