Braselton: Aged to perfection
Aged to perfection. That’s Braselton — which marks its 100th birthday on Aug. 21.
Officially chartered in 1916, Braselton’s town limits now reach into four counties with highway, roadway and growing LifePath networks of connectivity; Braselton residents may have four different zip codes but they share a commonality in town history and in community experiences and opportunities to be savored. Whether they live or just work here, they can all call Braselton home. And it’s perfect.
Celebrating 100 years of Braselton
Perhaps some of the buzz of the Centennial is in tribute to the founders of the town, a trio of Braselton brothers known as the “3Bs,” whose next generation carried on the business enterprises which got their start in a tiny store opened by a 10-year-old entrepreneur. Although much of the Braselton Brothers property was originally sold to Hollywood actress Kim Basinger and a group of investors, the Braselton legacy remains and is being celebrated.
All things are buzzing with excitement as the Centennial Celebration is continuing throughout the year following the official unveiling earlier this year of the Braselton High School watercolor by noted artist, Henry W. Wood Jr. Schools, education and sports have been a big part of the Braselton area even prior to its official 1916 chartering so the school’s tie to the community is being celebrated.
On Oct. 16, the Last Walk Down Memory Lane is an event held for alumni of both Braselton High and Jackson County High to return to the campus, to reunite in celebration. The future of the structure is to be either demolished or repurposed for other education uses.
Area veterans will be saluted during the Nov. 12 special appreciation event at the Braselton Community Center. Veterans and veteran organizations are invited to participate.
This holiday season, travel to the store steeped in heritage: the Braselton Brothers Department Store. The launch of the season in November is tied to the arrival of new merchandise at the store to delight children of all ages. During lean times, the promise of a small brown bag of fruit and hard candy attracted hundreds to the store. Music of the season and a visit from Santa christens the holidays which is further celebrated with a Movie Under the Stars in addition to the Celebrate the Holidays festival and parade the following weekend. Appropriately enough, the centennial celebration is being tapped for the 2016 theme.
Buy Local Braselton
The launch of a popular Buy Local campaign is fostering connections between consumers and retail, restaurants and service operations. The campaign is also establishing a newfound network of business-to-business opportunities through social media, special events and quarterly meetings. Participation in Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving is also on the schedule.
With 600 licensed businesses in Braselton, there are storefront retailers and small business entrepreneurs, service providers headquartered in their homes and offices where commerce of all types is conducted daily. Also, there are industrial giants, including Amazon and Williams-Sonoma, joining the existing manufacturing and distribution facilities already attracted to the town including Carter’s, Havertys, Mayfiled Dairy, Mizuno, Petco, SafeLite Auto Glass, Whole Foods Market and YearOne.
Businesses are showcased on the Buy Local Braselton Facebook page and bright blue and white welcome “Buy Local” doormats are showing up across the town as the branding expands. Likes, posts and shares of the Buy Local content as well as a support town-led promotional print initiative is also serving to further the “Buy Local” message — “Buy Like a Local. 4 Counties. 4 Zip Codes. Only Braselton!” Making local businesses successful is the campaign’s mission.
Braselton has commercial nodes along Ga. 211, Ga. 53 and Spout Springs/Friendship roads as well as downtown proper, the historic district for which the Braselton Downtown Development Authority works to assure long-term economic stability by maintaining its small-town character and supporting fundamentals to assure Braselton is a great place to live, work, play, invest and do business.
The Classic Main Street designation received in 2015 came after the start-up participation by the DDA and the town’s commitment to fostering economic vitality, quality design, effective promotion and sustainable organization with Amy Pinnell as Braselton’s downtown manager.
Braselton’s downtown is filled with charm — historic, two-story, white columned architecturally beautiful residences of former Braselton founders.
With lights in trees along downtown’s streetscaped streets, a drive through is like an invitation to stop and enjoy some geocaching along the Jackson County Geocaching Trail or check out the local businesses registered as Pokeman Go spots. And yes, there are Pokeman Go gyms all around.
The Braselton Brothers Store Complex at 9924 Davis St, site of one of geocaches, is part of the Braselton Brothers enterprises. Brick repurposed from now-demolished portions of the complex have found new life in the corridor connecting the Davis Street courtyard and the new Town Green Park’s first phase. A community committee’s vision for a special central destination in historic downtown is coming to fruition with the Aug. 20 birthday gala celebrating the town’s 100th and the opening of the green’s first place — and the best is yet to come.
Today, the Braselton Brothers commercial complex houses enterprises offering fine dining, premium oils and vinegars, boutique shopping and spa, a hair salon and an antique mall which is a testament to the town’s draw as a major antiques destination.
Antiques, artisan crafts, including hand-forged ironwork and leather products and art by regional artists, expanding eat-out, drive-up or take-out options, you name it. Braselton is a place to experience.
Experiencing downtown Braselton connects families to the land with Braselton Park being a recreation spot. Movies Under the Stars is another draw to bring families together for an unmatched evening of entertainment and the summer’s Pooches in the Park highlighted people and their pets.
On the horizon is a new civic center with parking deck to further enhance the appeal of the historic town which showcases that “It’s Better In Braselton.”
While the new Town Green Park and the future civic center will provide added attractions for the historic hub of Braselton, economic vibrancy is being experienced across the town with an uptick in industrial and healthcare-related development as well as renewed residential construction which Braselton Planning and Development Director Kevin Keller says will be trickling down into an expansion of retail.
Transportation improvements along Ga. 53, Friendship Road, the Lake Lanier Parkway and Spout Springs Road areas, and the anticipation of the Braselton Parkway extension should pay dividends for development as well as for motorists.
Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton and the medical-related offices and facilities are putting the area on the health and wellness map. The spotlight on health is proving to be a peace-of-mind amenity for many.
Braselton’s investments in infrastructure have strengthened the backbone for such development to better serve a growing community. Braselton’s claim to two exits off Interstate 85, a prime connection between Atlanta and the Carolinas, makes it a potential treasure trove for business and industry and travelers.
The workforce potential of the region appeals to many different types of employers such as Amazon and Williams-Sonoma, as well as other manufacturers, distribution centers and ecommerce sites including Carter’s, Mizuno, SafeLite, Whole Foods Market, Havertys and Petco. Added investment in a new million-square-foot distribution center under development and
the availability of other industrial land along Braselton Parkway and Broadway Avenue hold promise for more employment opportunities.
Château Élan’s expansion as a hospitality mecca with its world-class amenities including the winery and luxury inn, spa, golf and tennis, walking trails and soon a new hotel continues to bring visitors to the community. More than half a million visitors a year traverse the grounds and experience the offerings of the resort which blends European elegance and delights with Southern charm and hospitality. Many more people make the residential communities surrounding Château Élan home.
Think of a bottle of fine wine enhancing your dining pleasure and know that Braselton can make the experience even more enriching. In a town aged to perfection, your visit should be appealing to all your senses — so come explore and experience 100-year-old Braselton and savor a taste of its historic past and ponder being a part of its future. Why? Because It’s Better In Braselton.
Originally published at Gwinnett Magazine.