By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Pictured above is Antiques in Old Town and Santa who will be visiting for the Old Town Lilburn Christmas Walking Tour of homes to benefit the Lilburn Co-op.

The Town of Lilburn was established in 1890, and houses were built beginning in 1895. 93 Main Street is the oldest commercial building in town and was built in 1910.

The Creek Indians were removed from the area in 1820, and there was a government-influenced land lottery in Gwinnett County, which was divided into 135 square land lots in the 6th District or 6th Drawing of the lottery. The lottery was open to Revolutionary War veterans, and there were additional criteria to avail the lottery to other candidates. Names were placed in one barrel, and the land lots were placed in another barrel in 250-acre tracts. A name and a land lot were drawn from each barrel. 

William McDaniel acquired title to District 5, Land Lot 135 from the original lottery winner, and McDaniel settled on the original 250 acres which today is the Highway 29 / Rockbridge Road area. Making camp by the creek, McDaniel decided to name the area Camp Creek, which remains the name to this day.  McDaniel’s original log cabin was moved to a private collection in Jonesboro in the 1930’s and was moved to Westville in a private collection called Westville – (Living History Museum) in Lumpkin, Georgia where it still stands today. The Baptist Church built by the settlement also still stands. 

McDaniel, Georgia was the original name of Lilburn through the Civil War until the railroad arrived in 1890. The name was changed to Lilburn, Georgia in 1896 with the arrival of the Seaboard Airline Railway with its first passengers arriving in 1892. The city’s name changed for Lilburn Trigg Meyers, who was the major stockholder’s son and also the General Superintendent of the railway. The city was incorporated in the State of Georgia in 1910 as Lilburn, Georgia. 

Known as Alford’s General Store, 93 Main Street was built in circa 1910 and operated as such from 1910 through the 1950’s. The building was erected by Dr. Charles Kelly whose family lived in the area. Dr. Kelly had attended medical school at what is now known as Emory University. After graduating Dr. Kelly needed a place to practice, so he built the two-story building. Alford’s General Store occupied the main floor and the second floor held Dr. Kelly’s office in the back with a public meeting space in the middle and a barber shop front facing the street.  There was no running water on the second floor, so water had to be carried by buckets up to the doctor’s office and barber shop areas. It was said that the barber would throw his used water out the window which occasionally doused the pedestrians below!

In the 1920’s there was a major fire in the city burning many buildings, and the general store was the only building that survived the fire with minor damage to the upstairs floor. Burn marks in the flooring and around the windows can still be seen today.  

Due to the 1929 “Great Depression,” the businesses went into a major decline, and in 1937, when the city charter expired, the city ceased to operate.

In the 1930’s, the telephone and electricity came to the building, and the store had the distinction of having the first telephone in the city. If you wanted to make or receive a phone call, the general store was the place to be. 

In 1948 Dr. Kelly died, and about the same time, Alford’s General Store closed. For many years after, the space was used as a warehouse but remained in the Kelly family.  In 1967 Kelly’s son sold the building to James Wilkerson who continued to use the space as a warehouse. In 1994 Antiques in Old Town opened in the space. James Wilkerson died in 1996, and his son, Hugh Wilkerson, took ownership of the building where Antiques in Old Town continues to operate today. 

Hugh and Rowann Wilkerson converted the upstairs into a residential area and moved above the shop in 2012. Today the main floor is a lovely antique shop full of beautiful pieces and behind the main shop is a wonderful large shopping area filled with many booths leased by people in the community selling interesting antique items – a true shopper’s paradise. An exciting fact from a historical perspective is that from 1910 to 2017 – the building has been owned by only two families – the Kellys and the Wilkersons  – a total of 117 years!!

Hugh Wilkerson is involved in many aspects of the Lilburn community, and he and his wife, Rowann, host a weekly community breakfast in the back of the shop where Hugh loves to share his knowledge of the history of the building and the Lilburn community. This group is known as LOFA – Lilburn Old Friends Association and everyone is invited. 

The shop, and residential areas of the building will be open during the Christmas Tour of Homes hosted by the Lilburn Woman’s Club. December 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. Hugh will be in attendance with the main floor, back shop area, and upstairs residential areas open to the tour, and he plans to have a historical review of Lilburn on display. Refreshments will also be served. 

We hope you will stop by this wonderful addition to the tour. For ticket information, please visit our website at www.lilburnwomansclub.org. and click on the Christmas Tour of Homes tab. Come and enjoy a wonderful Christmas evening strolling through the streets of Lilburn to Christmas Carols and visit some of the beautiful homes and buildings in our quaint little town. You might find some Christmas goodies and even get a selfie with Santa Claus!

Published: 2017-11-23 02:40