HIAWASSEE, Ga.- A large crowd of history lovers assembled at the Towns County Historical Society’s monthly meeting Aug. 12 to waltz down memory lane with local historians Mary Ann Miller and Jerry Taylor. Miller and Taylor displayed slideshow photographs of Hiawassee, past and present, describing the architectural changes that have taken place over the years. Miller shared memories of Hiawassee in the 1960s and 1970s, followed by Taylor presenting the original plans for the mountain settlement. Settled in 1820, Hiawassee became the designated seat of newly formed Towns County in 1856. Hiawassee was incorporated as a town in 1870, and as a city in 1916.
Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales addressed the crowd at the conclusion of the meeting, speaking on the future plans for the city. In 2018, the city of Hiawassee worked with the Carl Vinson Institute, a unit of the Office of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia which assists state and local governments in achieving their goals. Hiawassee received a $21,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant in 2017 to assist with the funding of the strategic plan.
Steering committees were formed for the project, and seven focus groups were held to sculpt the formation of the plan. During the course of the study, community stakeholders listed what they felt was working well in Hiawassee, and what they believed could benefit from improvement. “We tried to get everyone involved as much as possible…,” Mayor Ordiales said at the meeting, assuring society members of historical preservation. “We’re tearing nothing down.”
Towns County Historical Society meets on the second Monday of each month at 6 pm at the Towns County Civic Center while the society’s main site, located at the former recreation center, undergoes renovation. Meetings are open to the public.
Feature Image: Hiawassee’s original Masonic Lodge, one of many historical photographs displayed at the meeting.