Memory of Place and Space

What was once the empty parking lot of the Crossings Shopping Center, located on the NW corner of Concord Rd and South Cobb Drive, is now a thriving shopping plaza. Kroger located one of its largest stores in Atlanta at this location.

Funny thing with development – the memory of place and space remains despite changes made.Take this same corner of Concord Road and South Cobb Drive, long before there was a corner, the Cherokee people lived and worked the area. Then gold was discovered nearby and the first gold rush began. The Cherokee nation was ushered out and ‘civilization’ was ushered in.

In 1832, a land lottery, sanctioned by the State of Georgia, awarded Cherokee land to pioneering Georgians who began to move into Cobb County and settle the area.

By the spring of 1832, Concord Baptist Church formed and met at a log cabin schoolhouse that sat where the Crossings Shopping Center sits now – Reverend Thorton Burke, the first pastor, and seventeen members made up the original congregation. The log cabin had dirt floors and split slab benches for seats.

Of the area and of the founding of the new church, J.M. Reed, a Concord Baptist Church’s clerk, was quoted in his 1927 Mother’s Day address as saying, “When rattlesnakes darted fangs of death from their lairs in the woods, when wild animals and Indians roamed the section, and pine knots were burned for light, God, in His providence, sent a few Baptists into Cobb County…”

Ya gotta love those Baptists!

In 1833, the church moved further west out Concord Rd and became the first constituted church in Cobb County. The old church cemetery is located at the end of Fowler Road and has been the source of many a ghost sighting, both in times past and today, for those souls brave enough to venture into the darkness of the night.

At some point, the original log cabin church was destroyed – the method and date of its destruction is unknown; speculation suggests Sherman’s men burned the cabin along with the Concord mill at the covered bridge on July 4, 1864. Dates, after this period, are hard to come by. Smyrna’s City Hall burned in the 1970’s and with it many of its records.

What is known is that future Fourth of July’s were happier times. From at least 1949 through 1961, on July 4th, this corner was a hub of activity. Smyrna Jaycees sponsored soap box derby races down South Cobb Drive. The City of Smyrna would close South Cobb Drive, a two lane at that time, from Concord Rd. to Cherokee St (now Windy Hill Rd). The soap box derby cars lined up at the top of the hill and raced to the bottom. Fans gathered at the corner and along the roadside to cheer on the racers.

Frank Blackstone participated in the 1949 race. He wrote of the experience, “My twelfth birthday was probably the most memorable for me. It was the magic number that made me old enough to be in the soap box derby. I built the fastest and most beautiful racer you can imagine. I lost the race but it really didn’t matter…I got to keep the car.”

The Dickson family purchased the NW and the SW corner. They built Dickson Shopping Center on the SW corner and a bit further down Concord Rd, on the NW side, they built three family homes. These houses (which are now businesses) and the shopping center remain today.

The Crossings Shopping Center, as it stands today, was built in 1971 with Grant City as its anchor store. In the 1980’s the fitness craze began. Grant City phased out and American Fitness moved in. As with other fads, the fitness craze waned and so did the corner – the shopping center languished until the time to begin anew.

Knowing the history of a place creates memories that belong to that space. It’s refreshing to know that with redevelopment, fragments of time past become woven into the site’s future.

 

…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation… Acts 17:26

More posts on Smyrna History:
wordpress.com/post/willowwritesweb.wordpress.com/212  – Nellie Mae Roe Where Did You Go

wordpress.com/post/willowwritesweb.wordpress.com/155 – Tale of Joe Chaney’s Arm

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3 thoughts on “Memory of Place and Space

  1. I’ve only been in Smyrna-Vinings about 35 years so I’m not really a ‘native’; however, I always enjoy hearing a bit about the history of an area and its development. Thanks for this article and I for one would be interested in any other research/remembrances you might care to jot down.

    Regards,
    Duncan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Duncan, that’s pretty native in my book!
      I attached a couple more posts that I have on this blog about Smyrna. See if you can get to them from there…if not, please let me know as I’ve been revising the site and I’m not sure I have things as they should be. Thanks for reading.

      Like

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