Atlanta to Commerce 70 miles – Interstate 85 exit 147
Exit 147 is all about shopping at the outlet stores. The stores are on both sides of the interstate. The Tanger Outlet, The Shops of Banks Crossing. There are stores across from Banks Crossing, a large Wal-Mart, a Western Store and Jaemor Farms Store.
Jaemor Farms – Has opened a second location in Commerce. They carry fresh homegrown and local fruits, vegetables, homemade breads, jellies, jams, preserves, local honey & more
“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping” Bo Derek
Founded in 1818, the towns name was Harmony Grove, the town was incorporated in 1884 and officially changed its name from Harmony Grove to Commerce in 1909. A local businessman started Harmony Grove Mills in 1893 and the town flourished as a cotton market. Most notably, the Harmony Grove Female Academy was the first school for girls in the state and was established in 1824.
Later, the city would serve as the setting for the novel “Cold Sassy Tree” written by Olive Ann Burns.
Larmartine G. Hardman served two terms as governor from 1927-1931. Mr. Hardman was physician who built a mansion in downtown Commerce known today as “The Hardman House.” Mr. Hardman also owned the 162 acre Hardman Farm in White County, across from the Indian Mound. (see my Sautee Nacoochee post)
On September 1, 1876, the North Eastern Railroad opened its line from Athens to Lula, which passed through the heart of Harmony Grove. Today the Norfolk Southern Railway owns the tracks. The tracks run through the center of town with a road and buildings on each side of the track.
Commerce to Homer 11 miles
Homer was founded in 1858 and incorporated as a town in 1859. Homer’s first courthouse was built in 1863, It is one of the four oldest courthouses in Georgia. It was restored in 1987 and a new courthouse was built behind the old courthouse. Today it houses historic exhibits, the Banks Chamber of Commerce and the Welcome Center. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Another historical site is the Banks County Jail built in 1880, it still has its cells, bars on the windows and the “hanging trap” door. It also is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. next to the courthouse
In 1985 Homer was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world record for an Easter egg hunt – 80,000 eggs. The event in the small town of 1,100 people is an Easter Sunday tradition that has lasted 47 years. The egg hunt each year draws about 5,000 egg hunters, children and adults. Even though it no longer holds the record, Homer has long touted its annual hunt as the world’s largest.
The town is small with a few buildings. Most of the buildings are vacant.
Ragsdale Mill – On Mt Olivet Rd. Was built by the Reverend Francis Marian Ragsdale. The road is a short road with a old church and cemetery on the right and the old Ragsdale house on the left. The gate at the mill says “You are welcome to visit the mill but stop at the at the residence first.” I was there on a Saturday, unfortunately no one was home. I will be back so I can add a picture and more information.