New Civic Center
With the late 1937 completion of its new civic center – including a new City Hall and Hall County Courthouse – Gainesville had essentially recovered from the 1936 tornado devastation. In recognition of the help President Roosevelt and the federal government had provided, the citizens of Gainesville hosted an elaborate dedication ceremony for the new civic center on March 23, 1938, in his honor.
Vanishing Georgia image hal221 shows the delegation sent to Washington DC to invite President Roosevelt to Gainesville, on October 22, 1937. The dedication ceremony was originally planned for later in 1937, but was delayed until spring of 1938, largely due to Presidential health issues.
Front row (left to right): U.S. Senator Richard Brevard Russell, Jr.; U.S. Senator Walter Franklin George; U.S. Representative Benjamin Franklin Whelchel (Georgia's 9th Congressional district); Albert S. Hardy, Sr. (editor of The Gainesville Times); and Chancellor Steadman Vincent Sanford (University System of Georgia). Back row: Colonel Sandy Beaver (Riverside Military Academy), C. Roberts, Edgar Dunlap and Robert Johnson.
In Vanishing Georgia image hal218 taken on March 23, 1938, President Roosevelt addresses an immense crowd estimated at over 20,000 people. Roosevelt praised the people of Gainesville for their remarkable achievement in rebuilding the city better than it was before the storm, and suggested that this excellent example of local good citizenship could also be usefully applied in a national setting (speech transcript).
Vanishing Georgia panoramic image hal248 shows the covered Presidential stand in the foreground and the new Hall County Courthouse in the background. Note the monument to Roosevelt installed in front of the Courthouse.
A period drawing from Hall County Library Historic Photograph Collection image hchp0419 illustrates the monument’s design and setting. This monument is said to be the first in the country dedicated to President Roosevelt.
Hall County Library Historic Photograph Collection image hchp0491 shows the Presidential stand from another viewpoint, with the new Gainesville City Hall in the background.
Hall County Library Historic Photograph Collection image hchp0394 provides a wide panoramic view of the huge celebration – note the very large crowd of proud participants celebrating the successful recovery of their city.