Ellen Axson Wilson Homecoming

EAW Homecoming 2014 logo

As the beloved wife of the 28th American president, Ellen Axson Wilson became the first activist first lady, working for better living conditions for the poor who lived in the shanties that sat in the middle of the nation’s capital. A talented impressionist artist, Ellen also led the charge over various beautification projects in and around the executive mansion, including the creation of the famous White House Rose Garden.

Born in Savannah, Ga. in 1860, Ellen Louise Axson came to Rome, Ga. at a young age when her father became the minister of the First Presbyterian Church. There, Ellen met the love of her life one Sunday morning in April 1883. Then-lawyer Woodrow Wilson had been in town visiting relatives when their paths crossed. A long-distance relationship formed by way of Rome and Atlanta, but the miles did not keep them apart. Ellen and Woodrow soon became engaged.

MrsWilson2 - editedFollowing the death of her father in 1884, Ellen left town to receive a prized education at the Art Students League of New York City, where the young artist studied under the experts of the day. Early in her life Ellen also had the opportunity to study at art colonies in New Hampshire and Connecticut.

Following her marriage to the future president in June 1885, Ellen gave birth to three daughters, and lived a happily married life in different locales as Woodrow’s work in higher education took him around the eastern seaboard.

In 1914, the Rome Chamber of Commerce planned a special homecoming to celebrate the progressive and sophisticated community that Rome had become. Famous Romans past and present were invited to return for the festivities that October. The most notable Roman at the time was Mrs. Wilson, who graciously accepted.

Unfortunately, Ellen never made it, succumbing to a rare kidney disorder on August 6, 1914. She was 54.

One hundred years later, the Rome Area Council for the Arts and Oak Hill & The Martha Berry Museum are celebrating the first lady’s life and art with the Ellen Axson Wilson Homecoming, a centennial commemoration that began in July with the opening of a gallery exhibition featuring some of Ellen’s original oil paintings of beautiful landscapes. The installation will remain in the gallery until November 1, and are included with admission onto the mansion grounds.

MemorialService_PC_HIRes postcard_Page_1A painting of Ellen with her daughters by Robert Vonnoh, a former instructor of hers, is one of the first pieces that greets visitors at the exhibit. Artwork on display appears courtesy of the collections of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, the Woodrow Wilson House, private collectors, and Rome’s Sara Hightower Regional Library.

Following a centennial memorial service held earlier this month, additional events are also scheduled to honor Ellen’s contributions and life’s work. In September there will be two book signings and a special lecture with Pulitzer Prize nominee Kristie Miller, author of Ellen & Edith, Woodrow Wilson’s First Ladies. Also in September will be a special gala featuring music from the Rome Symphony Orchestra, where guests will enjoy savory cuisine similar to meals served in the White House during the Wilson administration. Later this year visitors will be able to see a free exhibit of Ellen’s personal belongings, photographs and other memorabilia on display at the Rome Area History Museum.

Set for next year the Ellen Axson Wilson Homecoming committee will unveil a bronze statue of the first lady in Downtown Rome. The selected site will feature the artist painting in the Town Green alongside the picturesque Oostanaula River.

Ellen’s final resting place above Downtown Rome at historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery is free and open to the public to visit during daylight hours.

For more information about Rome’s first lady and the Ellen Axson Wilson Homecoming commemorative events, visit www.RomeGeorgia.org, or call 800.444.1834.

Fan Photo Friday

Submit your Georgia photos for the chance to be featured:

Sunset in Downtown Atlanta from the top of the Crowne Plaza in Midtown. Photo by Gene Phillips. Submitted via Facebook.

Sunset in Downtown Atlanta from the top of the Crowne Plaza in Midtown. Photo by Gene Phillips. Submitted via Facebook.

The overlook at Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia. Photo by Cosmonaut. Submitted via Flickr.

The overlook at Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia. Photo by Cosmonaut. Submitted via Flickr.

 

Kayaking the Chattahoochee River. Photo by @kathyreynolds27. Submitted via Twitter.

Kayaking the Chattahoochee River. Photo by @kathyreynolds27. Submitted via Twitter.

Sitting in the Indian Seats at Sawnee Mountain. Photo by @heehawlife. Submitted via Instagram.

Sitting in the Indian Seats at Sawnee Mountain. Photo by @heehawlife. Submitted via Instagram.

 

55 Things to Do on Labor Day Weekend

å≥uã

Head to any of the Labor Day events in Georgia and make the most of your long holiday weekend. Watch hot air balloons float above the trees in Pine Mountain, crush grapes at a winery in North Georgia, build a sand castle on the beach, cheer for your favorite football team and race car driver, and watch a Pirate Boat Parade on Lake Blackshear. Find these and many more events on http://exploregeorgia.org.

Family Fun

Aug. 29-31: Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain

Aug. 30: Annual Kingsland Catfish Festival, Kingsland

Aug. 30-31: Laurel Summer Fest, Gainesville

Aug. 30-31: Labor Day Weekend – Sunset Tours, North Georgia Zoo, Cleveland

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Labor Day Celebration and Customer Appreciation Weekend, Clayton County International Park – The Beach, Jonesboro

Aug. 31: Tybee Island Labor Day Beach Bash, Tybee Island

Sports & Racing

Aug. 29-31: IPRA World Championship Fall Rodeo, Cumming

Aug. 30: Georgia Tech Football vs. Wofford, Atlanta

Aug. 30: Big Cat Quest Catfish Tournament, Rome

Aug. 31: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton

Aug. 31: Callaway Gardens Family Fitness Series Triathlon, Pine Mountain

Wine & Cheese

Aug. 30: Crush Fest, A Harvest Celebration, Yonah Mountain Vineyards, Cleveland

Aug. 30: Grape Stomping Festival, Paradise Hills Resort, Spa & Farm Winery, Blairsville

Aug. 30: Cheesemaking 101, Sweet Grass Dairy, Thomasville

History & Culture

Aug. 30: 3 Deep in the Yard – The Pivotal Battle of Jonesboro, Jonesboro

Aug. 30: Civil War Event at the Yellow River Post Office, Lilburn

Aug. 30-31: Mountain Heritage Festival, Blairsville

Art & Music

Aug. 30: Lighthouse Gospel Concert, Thomasville

Aug. 30: Just My Imagination Workshop, Dublin

Aug. 30-31: St. Simons Island Antique Show, St. Simons Island

Aug. 31: Drake and Lil’ Wayne at Aaron’s Amphitheatre, Atlanta

Select Events at Georgia State Parks

Aug. 29: Art in the Park, Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs

Aug. 29 & 31: Labor Day Weekend Night Kayak, Hard Labor Creek State Park, Rutledge

Aug. 30: Labor Day Festival, Fort McAllister State Park, Richmond Hill

Aug. 30: Astronomy, Stephen C. Foster State Park, Fargo

Aug. 30: Bark in the Park Dog Luau, F.D. Roosevelt State Park, Pine Mountain

Aug. 30: Labor Day Fishing Rodeo, Reed Bingham State Park, Adel

Aug. 30: Labor Day at Jarrell Plantation Historic Site, Juliette

Aug. 30: Lake Blackshear Pirate Festival, Georgia Veterans State Park, Cordele

Aug. 30: Moonlight Movie Night, Victoria Bryant State Park, Royston

Aug. 31: Guided Canoe Trip, Mistletoe State Park, Appling

Aug. 31: Jr. Ranger Mini-Camp, Tugaloo State Park, Lavonia

Aug. 30-31: Indoor Basic Archery, Panola Mountain State Park, Stockbridge

Aug. 30-31: Tallulah Gorge Floor Hike, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Labor-less Day, Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge, Helena

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Labor Day on the Lake, Florence Marina State Park, Omaha

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Tools and Skills that Built a Colony, Wormsloe Historic Site, Savannah

Sept. 1: Labor Day Commemoration, Fort Morris Historic Site, Midway

Sept. 1: Labor Day at Fort King George Historic Site, Darien

Last Chance! Events Ending Labor Day Weekend

Through Aug. 29: Bea Kuhlke Art Exhibition, Sacred Heart Gallery, Augusta

Aug. 30: Blue & Gray Saturdays, Heritage Sandy Springs Museum, Sandy Springs

Through Aug. 30: Family Farm Tours, Jaemor Farms, Alto

Through Aug. 30: Victorian Mourning Tours, Stately Oaks Plantation, Jonesboro

Through Aug. 30: 3D Off the Wall Exhibit, The Art Center, Blue Ridge

Through Aug. 31: The Land Abstracted: Exhibit by Colleen Sterling, The Art Center, Blue Ridge

Through Aug. 31: Corks and Canvas, Evans

Through Aug. 31: Exhibits at Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Atlanta

Through Aug. 31: Splash Pad, Southern Pines Regional Park, Dublin

Through Aug. 31: “Right On,” Horizon Theatre, Atlanta

Through Sept. 1: Summer Music Weekends, Rock City, Lookout Mountain

Through Sept. 1: Blue Star Museums, Flint RiverQuarium and Thronateeska Heritage Center, Albany

Opening Labor Day Weekend

Aug. 30-Sept. 17: Perspectives 2014 pottery event, Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation, Watkinsville

Aug. 30-Oct. 26: Pick Your Own Apples, Red Apple Barn, Ellijay

Aug. 30-Nov. 16 Buford Corn Maze, Buford

Sept. 1-30: Blue Morpho Butterfly Month at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain

 

Ready, Set, Camp at Stone Mountain Park

candycook_stonemtn_001

Stone Mountain Park is a Georgia family tradition. I can look back on many fond childhood memories of summer days and nights spent enjoying the historic landmark. Now, as a mom, I’m creating new memories at this unique destination that has grown a lot over the past few decades.

The addition of the Crossroads District has enhanced the old-fashioned, family-friendly charm of Stone Mountain while the Natural District still preserves over 15 miles of serene hiking trails for nature-lovers. What I have learned to appreciate most about Stone Mountain Park is the bridge between the natural world and modern family fun.

candycook_stonemtn_002Camping at Stone Mountain Park is truly like nowhere else. The campground is a tranquil lakeside spot nestled among loblolly pines and frequented by geese and ducks. Upon awakening, campers may be treated to the breathtaking view of deer hopping along or a Great Blue Heron fishing for breakfast. Exploring the park proves a thrilling adventure as visitors hike to the top of the mountain, relax on train rides, complete the SkyHike aerial obstacle course and picnic near the Carillon bell tower during its daily concerts. As the sun sets and the moon comes out of hiding, everyone settles down on the lawn to watch the Lasershow Spectacular. There’s no better way to put this day to bed than drifting to sleep to the sounds of nature.

The abundance of outdoor recreation, kid-friendly activities, intriguing natural features and full service campground make Stone Mountain Park the perfect place to get started on the road to family camping adventures. With the park’s “Ready, Set, Camp!” program it’s easier than ever for families to get a taste of sleeping under the stars in the great outdoors. The quiet campground provides all the amenities that may have campers homesick. Campsites are available with running water and electricity, a picnic table and grill. The sites are within walking distance of restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. There’s even a camp store, on-site, in the event that essential items are left at home.

candycook_stonemtn_003Thanks to “Ready, Set, Camp,” new campers can jump right into the fun spirit of camping without the added difficulties of choosing gear & struggling to set it up on site. Campers arrive to brand new 4-person tent, pitched just for them, with 4 comfortable sleeping pads inside. The tent is a one-door, two-window tent with shock-corded poles. The mesh roof increases air circulation and allows for stargazing on clear nights and a rain fly for less-than-ideal conditions. The lightweight sleeping pads give a nice barrier between campers and the unforgiving ground. All in all, it’s a great setup that campers take home with them to use on their next family campout.

Reserve your “Ready Set Camp” experience at Stone Mountain Park, today!

candycookCandy Cook is a professional writer & photographer who enjoys adventuring outdoors with her two sons. She draws inspiration from the natural world releasing it through written word and award-winning photography on her blog LongLiveLearning.com, as well as digital & print publications.

Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School Class

BulletinAs road trip travel bloggers, my sidekick Jerry and I spend a lot of time driving the backroads of our amazing planet, and we frequently find ourselves drawn to the AmericusPlainsAndersonville area of South Georgia because there is so much to see and do in that 15-mile radius. We typically make the historical Windsor Hotel in Americus our home base because it is centrally located between the Andersonville National Historic Site and the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains.With two major national parks in such close proximity, this area of the Presidential Pathways region of Georgia is rich in culture and history.

When you visit the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site you will be transported back in time to the Boyhood Farm, Plains High School, and the Train Depot presidential campaign headquarters. You will drive away having spent a rewarding day learning about the 39th President of the United States.

But not so fast.

Jimmy Rosalynn HowardIf you leave now, you will leave town having missed the best part—the opportunity to meet the President himself.

Yes, you heard me correctly. You can meet President Jimmy Carter in person!

Although most Americans know President Carter as a humanitarian and spiritual man, many people do not know that he has been teaching Sunday School for most of his adult life, and he still teaches most Sundays at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains. We have been privileged to attend on two occasions, and those visits rank among the most memorable moments, not just of our travels, but of our lives. If you plan your South Georgia travel accordingly, you can attend Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School class, too.

Here’s how it works:

1. The church doors open for seating at 8:30 AM, and Sunday School begins promptly at 10:00 AM.

2. You must pass U.S. Secret Service screening, including bag searches, metal detection, and a bomb-sniffing dog.

3. Prior to Sunday School, Miss Jan, a retired school teacher, will give a stern, but highly-entertaining, orientation so you will understand presidential protocol and how to behave in church.

4. After a short prayer, Jimmy Carter will rise, greet the congregation, comment on current events, and begin his hour-long lesson. (If you peek during the prayer, you will see the President enter the sanctuary from a side door.)

5. As the best souvenir, you can have your picture taken with Jimmy and Rosalynn, but you must wait until the end of the hour-long morning worship service.

President CarterJimmy Carter will be 90 years old on his next birthday, and although he is in excellent health and still very active in diplomatic missions and humanitarian causes, I would encourage you to make the Americus – Plains – Andersonville area of South Georgia your next road trip destination. Before you plan your visit, however, be sure to verify Jimmy Carter’s teaching dates at the Maranatha Baptist Church web site.

Howard BlountHoward Blount’s passion is navigating the roads-less-traveled of this amazing planet in search of anything rare and remote. He is a writer, consultant, and published author with Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill. Although his road trips are financed by his day job as a middle school teacher, Howard would much rather be scouting waterfalls on the North Georgia mountain backroads near his cabin in Blairsville. You can reach Howard @backroad_planet on Twitter or at his road trip travel blog BackroadPlanet.com.