The History: Top 5 Moments at NCHS in 2021

Pictured above: The new permanent exhibit Meet the Locals at the McRitchie-Hollis Museum displays from several of the area’s most prominent collectors.

By EMILY KIMBELL, Newnan-Coweta Historical Society

NCHS Director Emily Kimbell and Volunteer Cody Baum stand with Pierce Brosnan outside of the McRitchie-Hollis Museum.

As always, the new year brings the perfect time for setting goals and planning for the future. For the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society, this next year of 2022 may be one of our most exciting years yet as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our chartering in June with celebrations, events, programs, and expansion plans all year.

Before we enter the next season of the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society’s history, I want to reflect on the great moments that 2021 brought to our organization.

Here are the top five moments of the year for the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society!

5. Pierce Brosnan Visits Historic Downtown Newnan

Mamma Mia! June 2021 brought the coolest tour the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society has ever conducted when James Bond himself—Pierce Brosnan—joined NCHS Director Emily Kimbell for a tour of historic downtown Newnan. Brosnan was in town filming the upcoming superhero film Black Adam at Trilith Studios where Brosnan is cast as Doctor Fate. He decided to spend his off day on the historic tour. Kimbell and NCHS Volunteer Cody Baum along with Brosnan and his driver walked around downtown visiting the main street area and College Temple district for about three hours before stopping for smoothies at Leaf and Bean. They finished the tour at the Historic Train Depot before Kimbell walked Brosnan to his lunch reservation at the Cellar. Brosnan was particularly interested in learning about Newnan’s role as a hospital town during the Civil War. For anyone wondering about James Bond’s demeanor, the NCHS staff is happy to report that Brosnan is about one of the nicest people that you could ever meet! 

4. NCHS Works with Blackburn Family to Complete RD Cole Pictorial History Book

A vintage postcard showing the RD Cole Manufacturing plant during its early years of business

One year after signing a contract with Arcadia Publishing to write an Images of America book featuring the history of the RD Cole Manufacturing Company, Director Emily Kimbell along with members of the Blackburn family and other Cole family descendants have completed the manuscript for the book. The book features photographs, archives, and objects passed down through multiple generations of the Cole family that give a rare and special glimpse into the inner workings of a company that so greatly impacted the Coweta County area. These archives have never before been publicly published, and this book will be the first time some of these archives have been seen by anyone outside of the family. The manuscript is currently in the editing process and will be released for public sale at the end of summer next year. 

3. McRitchie’s Haunted Mansion hosts over 1,000 Ghouls

Visitors eagerly stand in line to enter the McRitchie-Haunted Mansion to see what “scares” await them!

This October saw the return of McRitchie’s Haunted Mansion, sponsored by Kyle Kahn Studios. This family-friendly haunted house paid homage to the history of the Peniston-Arnall home with vignettes inspired by the history of Newnan and Coweta County (with a little added Halloween spookiness for fun!). This year’s haunted story told of Mayhayley Lancaster, Oracle of the Ages, and her lost objects that “haunted” the museum’s hall. Over the course of two weekends and in conjunction with Book It South’s Oak Hill Cemetery Tour and MainStreet Newnan’s Twisted Trolley Tour, the McRitchie Haunted Mansion saw over 1,000 visitors walk through the haunted house! We can’t wait to see what haunted tale comes to visit the home next year!  

2. NCHS Presents Offsite Exhibit as Part of Sharpsburg 150th Sesquicentennial

As part of the 150th anniversary of the town of Sharpsburg’s incorporation, the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society installed a temporary exhibit titled Then & Now: Sharpsburg located at the A&O Bridges Community Center. The exhibit was on display during the week of celebrations and featured items from the collection of Sharpsburg Mayor Blue Cole alongside photos from the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society’s collection.

1. NCHS Completes Three of its Permanent Exhibits

As part of the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society’s plan to reinterpret the McRitchie-Hollis from a furniture museum to a history museum, three permanent exhibits were completed and presented to the public. The first exhibit titled “Meet the Locals” pays homage to the museum’s benefactor Edgar Hollis and displays artifacts from his collection as well as featuring other local collectors and the collections from current community members. The second exhibit titled “For the Elevation of Women” and the third exhibit titled “A Newnan Girl Away at School” are part of the Women of Coweta County History section and reflect the history of the all-women’s school College Temple and Margaret Trapnell Glover respectively. In 2022, NCHS and the McRitchie-Hollis Museum will enter Phase 2 of the renovation project and install permanent exhibits that tell the history of the county’s founding, agricultural beginnings, and millwork. 

The Newnan-Coweta Historical Society had a great 2021, and we hope you’ll continue to support us in 2022! Our 50th anniversary year is sure to be one for the history books! Happy New Year! 

Newnan-native, Emily Kimbell is the director of the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society and McRitchie-Hollis Museum. Emily is currently finishing her doctoral studies at Georgia State University, where she also teaches English Composition courses and is an active member of her community often seen on stage in local theatre productions and writing for local media outlets.

Then & Now: Sharpsburg paid tribute to the town’s rich history!

The new permanent exhibit A Newnan Girl Away at School at the McRitchie-Hollis Museum displays items from Margaret Trapnell Glover’s time at The Woman’s College of Georgia.

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