How does a community re-invent itself after its largest employers close their doors? Textile mills were once a thriving industry in the South. These mills – Sewell Manufacturing Co., Warren Sewell Clothing Co., Hubbard Co., Ray Sewell Co. and Arrow Shirt Co. flourished for decades, producing over 70% of all men’s clothing, which was loaded directly onto the rail cars literally at their front doors and employed over 3000 workers.
As first time visitors to Bremen, my friend, Carolyn Parrish, and I were treated to a guided tour by Mayor Sharon Sewell and Kristen Gerspacher of the Downtown Services. Our initial destination was the new MILL TOWN MUSIC HALL housed in a former grocery store. We’ve all seen strip mall areas with large empty commercial space and wondered if anything will ever fill it again.
Well, the owners of that space, Randall & Tena Redding of RKR Construction, along with many others, have combined their love of the history of this town and of music to help create this gift, not only to Bremen, but to all who enter its doors.
Walk with me through those doors as I surveyed for the first time the anticipated inside of MILL TOWN MUSIC HALL. To see the creative use of what most of us would consider “throw away” items, which were turned into works of art and then used as the theme for the décor, was quite inspiring. You must experience this yourself; however, as a teaser – old dress forms are used as floor lamps! The commendation for this creativity is given to the interior design talents of Tena Redding. She epitomized the appreciation Bremen natives have for their textile mills. That’s exactly what everyone will experience when attending a concert at MILL TOWN MUSIC HALL. They are bringing the resources and making something of value for every person who attends.
Lucky for me, this was just the beginning of my introduction to Bremen. We drove by two of Bremen’s event facilities – the HERITAGE HOUSE with its wonderful history preserved by the Museum Board and THE ROCK BUILDING, which I’d already been in recently for a wedding.
Next on our agenda was seeing a few of the projects that indicate how focused they are on the welfare of the community – the new Performing Arts Center across from the high school; the area in the park where a Special Needs playground will be built through the fundraising efforts of the Junior Women’s Club; and the large addition to their library. The education standards set for their schools have earned them some of the most prestigious awards given to a school system.
No trip to Bremen is complete without FOOD! Our lunch was at Callie’s Alley. We were greeted and served by Life Skills students from the high school and Callie was one of those we met. This is another example of the community’s concern for others and their resourcefulness in problem solving. The students wanted a way to earn money for their school projects and trips, and there was an empty building just waiting to be used. By the way, I just had to try their fried bologna sandwich, which was a “blast from the past”, and it was GREAT!
Even though we had homemade banana pudding – WOW – at Callie’s Alley, Carolyn couldn’t leave town without stopping and having “at least one” of Monica Brock’s cupcakes at FLUFFY’S CUPCAKES. I opted for the King Cake, which was the best I’ve ever had, even when living in Mobile, AL – the original home of Mardi Gras.
Of course, no woman can leave Bremen without visiting a boutique. The one that was open was LADY BIANCA’S BOUTIQUE run by Bianca and her mother, Mary Ann. They have great prices and a large selection of items, many of which are made by both of them – such talented and welcoming hostesses. Can’t wait to get back and do some serious shopping!
Never underestimate the power of a community when it is united in preserving what it has been while re-inventing where it wants to go! Come travel with me to a new destination the next time on “JUST AROUND THE CORNER” where we keep our dollars in Georgia.
Written by: Patty Wenck