The History of Main Street in Buford

The Museum of Buford recently moved from it's basement home on Main Street into the new Buford Community Center. As of October 1st, 2012, the Museum is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thurs--Sat.

Buford's Main Street:

Looking for inspiration for this week's blog, I came across an old pamphlet in the museum files. "The Ladies Birthday  Almanac, 1934" which would have been given out in Buford's drugstores of that era, including Bagwell Drug Co., located on Main Street. Although the almanac wasn't specifically home town related, and was in fact nothing more than a method of advertising remedies for women's and children's ailments, it got me thinking about the early businesses in Buford. Not the once booming Bona Allen Tannery, which merits a whole blog unto itself, but the everyday stores, the grocers, the five and dime stores, those places visited by housewives and farmers of Buford's past.

From Main Street's history:

  • Main Street was originally named South Railroad Street, with North Railroad Street on the opposite side of the tracks (today's Shadburn Ave). The name was changed to Main Street around 1911. The first street lights were installed in 1905, and the street was first paved in 1912.
  • During the Bona Allen Shoemakers' glory days, a portable sign announcing their home games was displayed in the center of the intersection of Main and Harris Streets. 
  • Throughout the 1920s, two to three thousand people would crowd Main Street and its shops on Saturday afternoons, all hoping for the chance to have their name drawn in the weekly  "inducement" program--every purchase from a participating merchant earned a ticket towards a grand prize.
  • There was an abundance of barber shops in downtown Buford in the 1930s--10 of them within a 2 block radius. The male citizens of Buford not only looked sharp, but were well informed, as the barber shops were popular places for communal gatherings. 
  • In the 1940s, before Main Street was widened, the four inch strip of dirt between the curb and the sidewalk was a favorite place to shoot marbles. 
  • Buford celebrated it's 50th anniversary in 1923 (a year late), with a crowd of approximately 5,000 people gathered on Main Street and the town square for a day of parades, barbeque, and concerts.


As a native Californian, where it seems as if old buildings are torn down daily to make way for business centers and freeways, I'm fascinated with the idea that the wooden floors of  Buford's current batch of upscale restaurants and shops were once trod upon by those early town residents.

These days, 37 E Main Street may be a Rock Cafe, but the same address was once used for as a Lodge Hall for all the town's non-Masonic fraternal orders (known as "Secret Societies"), and in the 1930s was the home of the Allen Department Store.

Drugstores have changed hands many times on Main Street, usually keeping the same address. The current Johnson's Hometown Drugs stands where Anglin's Drug Store had been housed since the 1970s, and before that the same address was home to Chief Garner's Drug Store, established in 1946.  

For me, these threads of continuity are an enormous part of the appeal of Buford's history--not only can I read about what happened in the past, but I can actually visit the same places, touch the same walls,  and see very nearly the same sights,  as where those past events took place. Volunteering at the museum gives me an even closer connection to that past, allowing me to closely examine the many displays and files full of the flotsam and jetsam of Buford's early businesses and the people who ran them.

New Acquisitions:

New acquisitions to the museum come from a variety of sources. Donations from families, institutions, and businesses; carefully scouted and purchased collections; a Buford related find on ebay, and even yard sales, which is where museum curator, Lynn Bowman, purchased a large assortment of Georgia related magazines last week. The magazines cover a span of years from the late 1980s up until 2001, and after being properly recorded and marked for articles relating to the local area, they are now a part of the museum's periodical collection.

Do you have any memorabilia or artifacts from Buford's past that you might like to share with, or donate to, the museum? Old photos, signage, anything relating to the area or it's history (early or late, either is fine) that you think might be of interest? The Museum of Buford is always looking to expand it's collections, and donations are always appreciated. Please drop by Thursdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  or contact the museum at 770-945-4559.

And because it's Daylight Savings  time of year...

Buford and Time Zones: Standardized time zones were instituted in the 1880s by the railroads, but weren't widely used until much later. At one time the state of Georgia was actually divided into what are now known as the Eastern and Central time zones. In the 1930s, the hour-long train trip from Buford in the Eastern time zone to Atlanta in the Central would result in the traveler arriving at their destination the exact same time they left home. If the train was running especially fast, a person could actually arrive before they left!*



*This, and all other historical information in this post, are from Handsel G. Morgan's Historic Buford (City of Buford, 1993) on sale at the museum and City Hall for $35.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Angelica Peach November 10, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Thank you Rebecca, for giving such wonderful background information about the area. Being new to Buford, I have a great interest in exploring and learning about my new community. Please visit my current PATCH BLOG Post, as well. http://buford.patch.com/blog_posts/from-the-california-ocean-across-the-country-through-the-trees-to-georgia-we-go#c
Rebecca Bradshaw November 10, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Just left a comment on your blog, Angelica. Thanks so much for your comment. Rebecca


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