“New Harmonies” Exhibit Comes To Toccoa

Toccoa welcomes the New Harmonies exhibit.

An event took place Friday evening at the Schaefer Center in downtown Toccoa to welcome the traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution.

The “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music” exhibit covers the history of American music.

It was brought to Toccoa through a joint effort of the Georgia Humanities Council, Stephens County Historical Society, and Main Street Toccoa program.

Historical Society Executive Director Brenda Carlan said they are proud to host the exhibit and she thanked the Humanities Council for choosing Toccoa as one of the host cities.

“You asked us if anybody knew what roots music meant?” asked Carlan. “2 ½ years ago, I would have not been able to raise my hand, but thanks to you and entities such as the Georgia Humanities (Council), we will be able to move this forward and we will be able to share the story and the history of roots music.”

Officials from the Georgia Humanities Council were on hand and say they are thrilled to have the exhibit in Toccoa.

Friday night’s event also gave the city a chance to show off the newly renovated Schaefer Center with a grand re-opening.

Toccoa Mayor David Austin said the city is proud to show off the work that has taken place at the theater on the corner of Broad and Doyle streets in downtown Toccoa.

“Those of us of a certain age can remember when this was the Ritz Theater and those of you who are not of a certain age and do not remember, you can not begin to appreciate the vast change that has taken place in this building,” said Austin. “It is just fantastic and a lot of people have done a lot of hard work to bring it to this state.”

That work includes a new HVAC unit, new orchestra pit, new carpeting, new paint, and a renovated front lobby area.

Toccoa City Manager Mike Jackson said the city is not done and wants to continue to develop the Schaefer Center.

“We want this to be one of the anchors for downtown redevelopment and to be a facility that we can use and enjoy and that you and I can be proud of for years to come,” said Jackson.

28th District State Representative-Elect Dan Gasaway said he believes that renovating the Schaefer Center will bring positive benefits for the whole city.

“These are special buildings and I believe they create a unique sense of place that only this community has,” said Gasaway. “I believe the restoration of this historic structure will create a positive impact on this community far beyond the city of Toccoa.”

Following the event at the Schaefer Center, the exhibit was opened up for viewing at its location in the Mitchell Allen Meeting Room at the historic train depot in downtown Toccoa.

The “New Harmonies” exhibit will remain in Toccoa through January 26, 2013.

It is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.