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Thursday June 22nd, 2017 12:20PM

Gainesville's restored Piedmont Hotel dedicated

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
GAINESVILLE - The long-awaited dedication of the restored remaining section of Confederate General James Longstreet's Piedmont Hotel was held Saturday morning in Gainesville.

Members of the Hall County Historical Society, including Judge William Norton along with the Longstreet Society, showed off their long-time labor of love.

Gainesville Newcomer's Club members, in period dress, handed out programs that were copies of the Piedmont's grand opening more than 100 years ago.

Norton expects this remainder of Longstreet's railroad hotel should last another 100 years.

"It's built better and in fact should last 200 years," he said.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was the featured speaker; refreshments after the dedication included fried chicken - the General's specialty at the Piedmont.

Historical Society member Garland Reynolds announced a cookbook celebrating that hotel specialty would be sold to support the Piedmont.

Reynolds said "Dining with the General, Recipes and Remembrances from the Dining Room of General James Longstreet's Historic Piedmont Hotel" will soon be available.

Cagle said he fully supported the Piedmont restoration and said he would like to see state money for such projects.

"I hope that I might be in a position in the future to help to help make a funding commitment at the state level," Cagle said.

The dedication was a homecoming of sorts for Benny Hawkins, who lived in the Piedmont after it was converted to apartments during the 1950s.

"I have a lot of memories here because it was during my high school days with friends coming over to spend the night and everything," Hawkins said.

Hawkins recalled his family paid their rent to General Longstreet's granddaughter.

A bust of General Longstreet was placed on display, brought from Dahlonega by Tim Ragland of the "Blue Ridge Rifles" 1860 Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Ragland said a camp member who is a sculptor created the bust, and it's on loan to the Piedmont.

The Piedmont is now open to the public for tours Saturdays and Wednesday afternoons, according to Richard Pilcher with the Longstreet Society.

"General Longstreet would love it," Pilcher said. "Sometimes I feel he's here. I feel like he's with us."

Directions to the Piedmont:
Turn south on Main Street off Jesse Jewell Parkway, turn right off Main Street onto Martin Luther King Boulevard, go one block, and then turn right on Maple Street to find the Piedmont.
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