Were you there? Did you participation? Saturday kicked off with the award winning Farmers’ Market. That was immediately followed by the Fall Festival. The merchants had a good day. I saw lots of people having fun.
Snellville’s convenient location, approximately 18 miles east of Atlanta and 45 miles west of Athens at the intersection of U.S. Highway 78 and Georgia Highway 124, has allowed it to prosper and become one of Gwinnett County’s fastest growing cities for the past thirty years. Snellville’s roots extend much deeper than thirty years, however, to 19th century London.
The birth of Snellville can be traced to 1874 London, England when a secret voyage to the New World was a glimmer in the minds of two teenage friends, James Sawyer and Thomas Snell. Unfortunately, their plans were altered when Snell’s parents wouldn’t allow him to make the trip when they learned of the plan. Instead, Sawyer and his brother, Charles, took off on the adventure, leaving England for the United States on March 18, 1874. After a two-week voyage, the Sawyer brothers arrived in New York on April 1st, where they stayed for a few weeks. They left New York and eventually settled in Madison County, Georgia, where they worked on a farm for $10.00 a month. Thomas Snell was finally able to make the trip and met his friends in Georgia where they all traveled through Jefferson and Lawrenceville. Charles Sawyer left his brother and friend in Georgia and in time settled in Alabama, where he entered the turpentine business. While Snell worked on the farm of A.A. Dyer, James Sawyer traveled back to New York and then to London, to claim his inheritance shortly after his 21st birthday in 1878. James Sawyer eventually returned to the United States and after traveling through parts of Georgia, was reacquainted with his friend Thomas Snell after settling in a small farming community named New London, now called Snellville. Prior to that time, the area where Snellville now rests was an old growth chestnut-oak-hickory forest settled by the Cherokee Indians.
The two friends built a small wood frame building and started a business together – Snell and Sawyer’s Store – and commerce was born in Snellville. Until that time, local farmers had to travel to neighboring towns in order to purchase anything they could not make themselves or borrow from neighbors. Snell and Sawyer printed store money with the trade value and Snell’s likeness on the front that their regular customers could exchange for goods, a common practice in small mill towns of the time. In just a short time, the business was prosperous and attracting customers from the neighboring towns of Lawrenceville and Loganville. These travelers who purchased supplies at Snell and Sawyer’s would often spend the night under the nearby oak groves, as the round trip was too long for one day’s travel. While it is uncertain when the town officially changed from New London to Snellville, Snell and Sawyer’s advertising identified their location as Snellville.
Our City continues to work on the creation and revitalization of a true downtown — a public gathering place and physical heart of Snellville. Throughout the past eight years there have been numerous public input opportunities and our citizens have participated in formulating our City Center plans. You can see the fruits of these efforts in the Snellville City Center, which includes City Hall and our Senior Center.
These plans that are now a reality did not originate recently, as many of the ideas are nearly 20 years old.
As long ago as 1988, during the planning and construction of the Henry Clower Blvd., the City considered aligning it with Oak Road. Both State and County DOTs supported the concept of the road realignment, but private property acquisition concerns were the stumbling block. In 1992, the City Council initiated a Comprehensive Plan that considered the relocation of City Hall. Snellville United Methodist Church had inquired about purchasing the existing City property for expansion.
Also in the early 1990′s, the City began to develop information that the current facilities were inadequate for long-term usage. In 2000, a subsequent report identified a number of deficiencies including rusted piping, non-standard restrooms, poor security, inadequately vented HVAC systems, extensive termite damage, water leaks, and, most embarrassing, lack of compliance with the City’s building codes.
During this same time, Snellville United Methodist Church investigated the purchase of the now declining Oakland Village shopping center. Initially, the church planned to purchase the shopping center for their own use, but problems associated with crossing Hwy. 78 led the membership to reject that idea. Once rejected for their own use, church members approached the City about the possibility of a real estate swap and our City Center project is becoming a reality today.
This is an exciting time for Snellville. All Members of Council and City Staff are working on the positive projects designed to meet our citizens’ current and future needs. Our own T.W. Briscoe Park, located on Lenora Church Road, is currently under redevelopment and improvement according to the Master Plan developed through your direction. This project is being funded with SPLOST funds. The Wisteria Square property is being marketed to potential developers.
Hello Future! Welcome to our new site for The Towne Center @ Snellville. Our re-designed website aims to provide you with up to date information about the progression of our town redevelopment plan. On this page, you will find a slideshow of the plan and how it was conceived, the press that we’ve received about the plan, and information for businesses or developers interested in being part of our efforts. So take a minute to explore our site and check out all the great things happening in Snellville, where everybody’s proud to be somebody!