More than ninety years ago, at a crossroads, a community was created. The British-born Snell and Sawyer families established homes and commerce. The late 1870’s brought the wood-built general stores built by the founding fathers that began a growing trend. Churches, doctors and eventually phone service followed.
On August 20, 1923, a charter was signed and Snellville, GA became an official town with Gladstone Snell serving as its first mayor. This month, the City of Snellville will celebrate the rich history with two events.
First up on the agenda for the August City Council meeting will be a proclamation honoring the history of Snellville. Mayor Kautz is excited about marking the event with a police color guard and former mayors and council members along with retired city employees. As for the people of Snellville, Mayor Kautz thinks that not that much has changed aside from the numbers. “I don’t think we have changed that much,” says Mayor Kautz. “The population may have increased, but we still have a great sense of community.”
That sense of community began with the crossroads and was cemented upon completion of the first rural consolidated school in Gwinnett County according to City Historian, Tom “Pap” Ewing. “That school was the one thing that gave the people of Snellville their first real sense of community.” He goes on to describe that it was a source of pride for residents. “It was a foundation of life for our area.” The Snellville Consolidated School was built for the 1922-23 school year (the same as the City Charter) and graduated its last class in 1957. “The building operated as an elementary school and then as Gwinnett County’s first middle school before it was torn down,” says Ewing.
Capturing a sense of the history of Snellville can be done in many ways. Former Mayor Emmett Clower has seen the city change in many ways. His perspective of the “growing years” comes from having been raised here, serving as mayor and uniquely, through the camera lens. “I think it is amazing when you talk to people who may not live here anymore, that they still have a connection to Snellville,” says Clower. “I have seen lots of changes, but people still take care of one another here.” His favorite photos are of the Methodist Church. “It is as pretty as anything you will find anywhere.”
Drawing people together for events may have really gotten a good start with the school and churches, but today’s Towne Green and new Snellville City Hall have created a common area for “everything community.” Together with the Snellville Tourism and Trade Association, Snellville plans to celebrate BIG at the Annual LIVE on the Lawn Jazz Festival featuring Metro Jazz Club. The community is invited to share in the big event on Saturday, August 24th at 6pm for an evening of Jazz, delicious local food vendors, and a giant 3D City Hall cake which will be presented around 8pm. “This event will be huge,” says STAT’s Executive Director, Kelly McAloon. “This is a great place for family and community - add the 90th birthday celebration and we have a night to remember.” The Presenting Sponsor for the concert series is Sam and Chrissy Thomas of About Face Skin Care, and the City of Snellville and STAT are sponsoring the cake and birthday celebration.
Please visit http://www.snellvillepride.com for more information.