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Back In The Day: The Leather City!

Hey Buford folks! This episode is just for you. Let’s dive deep into the history of this amazing city!

Something my grandparents used to do back in their day was sit around the living room and listen to an old Firestone manufactured radio that stood like a piece of furniture where a TV might be today. They gathered around and listened to an old radio show, and we hope that in this season you might consider doing the same with our local history podcast!

Buford never cultivated that sleepy Southern town vibe. In fact, in 1902, as the 20th Century was beginning, Buford was referred to as the “New York City of Gwinnett,” for its industry and activity. Even back in the day, this city that started in 1872 as a depot on the railway line between Atlanta and Charlotte was known for being progressive in business and education.

Buford was the home of the county’s first bank and was widely recognized for its quality schools, and students from adjoining counties came to acquire the prestigious diploma from Buford High School. (No change there, Buford City Schools are still great and attract many non-residents.)

Today, with more than 15,000 citizens, Buford is a city that has it all – a charming main street with retailers and restaurants and one of the Southeast’s destination shopping destinations with the Mall of Georgia. The Buford Dam is a major power source for the state and Lake Lanier Islands is recognized as a premier recreation development… and a favorite summer-day destination for Gwinnettians. The Buford Community Center is another jewel for the city – including a theater, conference center and meeting space, the Buford Museum, and the popular Town Park that hosts entertainment for all ages.

And here’s a little Buford trivia for you…Whose statue is located on West Main Street? Roy Rogers, whose horse Trigger had a saddle made at Buford’s famous Bona Allen Tanners.

Recently, a team of local historians completed a journey and a documentary film about the history of Buford, Georgia. Lynn Bowman, who operates the Buford Museum in downtown Buford produced the feature. I had the pleasure of meeting Lynn on a local access TV show years ago, and he’s been a consistent source of historical fact for writers, publications, and visitors to Buford, Georgia for decades now. 

Lynn paired up with director Ernie Mosteller at Okra Entertainment, and the project was brought to Lynn by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who sought to record the oral history of the city and The Bona Allen Company that helped make the city what it is today. 

Make sure you check out the film, and go buy the DVD and Blu-Ray next time you stop by the Buford Museum. I personally got to attend the premiere of the film at the Sylvia Beard Theatre. Having produced half a dozen documentary films, I can tell you that making a film of any kind isn’t easy. The research, the hours of choosing what to include and what to take out. How an interview will look, and acquiring the rights to visual aids such as photographs and film footage takes a long time, and this project took Lynn and Ernie over 2 years to complete.

After talking with Lynn, he was kind enough to let us cover this history of Buford by using clips from the film. So, we’re excited to talk about Buford, The Leather City. As told by these incredible local historians.

We hope you enjoy!