Built by Johnson & Johnson in 1926-1927, these buildings are still in use today. They were among the first structures of their kind in their region to have indoor plumbing, electricity and hot water, and they changed the lives of the families who lived in them. What were they? A remarkable collection of homes near Gainesville, Georgia called Chicopee Village.
In 1916, Johnson & Johnson acquired a 93-year-old company called The Chicopee Manufacturing Company – a famous textile mill that originally grew out of the Industrial Revolution and the need to make United States textile manufacturing independent of Britain. Johnson & Johnson was the largest manufacturer of sterile surgical dressings during the Nineteen Teens, and was running its manufacturing lines around the clock in order to make enough dressings to treat wounded soldiers during World War I in Europe -- while at the same time meeting the demand for sterile dressings from American hospitals. Johnson & Johnson acquired the Chicopee Manufacturing Company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts in order to increase capacity to meet that demand.
The Chicopee Manufacturing Company was founded in 1823, making it officially the oldest operating company to join the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. (Codman & Shurtleff, founded in 1838, was the next oldest.) In the 1920s, Chicopee was expanding, and land was purchased for the building of a modern, one-story plant near Gainesville, Georgia. Most textile mills at that time were rather dark, multi-story Victorian era buildings with few amenities. So of course Johnson & Johnson set out to build the most modern, one-story, light-filled building with all of the latest modern conveniences. The new Chicopee mill in Georgia attracted a lot of attention, since it looked more like a college campus building than a textile plant. It was the nation’s first modern, single-story textile mill, and it changed the way textile mills were constructed.
In addition, the Company constructed a village for employees of the new mill – called Chicopee Village. Chicopee Village had 250 modern houses, a school and a medical facility.
Instead of being designed with identical houses (which would have been easier to build), Chicopee Village contained 31 (yes, 31) variations of modern brick homes. The houses were among the first in Northeastern Georgia to have indoor plumbing, electricity and hot water.
Every house had a modern kitchen and bathroom, screens in the windows (important to keep disease-carrying insects out) and porches. In most cases, water and electricity were supplied to the residents for free. For families with cars, there were grouped garages throughout the community. For those without cars, there were buses into Gainesville. For many of the families who moved in – perhaps coming from a residence without electricity or indoor plumbing -- the houses must have seemed nothing short of miraculous. One resident wrote to Johnson & Johnson: “ ‘We had a modern five-room brick house with all of the modern conveniences, and went to work in a modern mill where all was light and clean. A new life was opened for us.” [Letter from Chicopee employee to Johnson & Johnson, as quoted in Robert Wood Johnson, The Gentleman Rebel by Lawrence G. Foster, Lillian Press, 1999, p. 171]
But there’s more. Instead of being laid out in a straight grid, Chicopee Village was designed to have rolling hills and winding roads, to make it more attractive for its residents. And in an era in which many workers’ homes still fronted on unpaved streets, Chicopee Village had paved roads and sidewalks, as well as a sanitary sewer system and storm sewers. There were modern electric streetlights as well as electricity in the homes and, in a progressive and far-seeing move in 1926, all of the electrical wiring was underground – both to improve the view and prevent power outages caused by wires blowing down in storms.
“All village wiring is underground and 10 carloads of material were required to construct the conduits in which these wires are buried. When wires are run underground in this way they cannot be short circuited or blown down by storms. Their concealment, moreover, improves the appearance of all streets and houses while the landscape architects have given every other possible consideration to the symmetry and beauty of this ideal mill community.” [Chicopee Georgia, Chicopee Manufacturing Corporation of Georgia, prepared and published by Doyle, Kitchen & McCormick, Inc., New York. Undated (1920s) hardcover book in Johnson & Johnson archives, p. 16]
The houses in Chicopee Village were in walking distance to Chicopee Mills – an important consideration in an era before everyone had a car. There was also another reason: walking was good exercise, and the Company wanted to promote good health and exercise for the mill employees and their families.
But there’s still more. Chicopee village had a modern school that was designed to be a model for the state of Georgia, and it had a community center. The community center was available for social gatherings such as dancing and movie nights, and it had a gymnasium for exercise and team sports. Behind the community center were a swimming pool, tennis courts and athletic fields for residents. And behind that was a beautifully landscaped park. (By now, readers may be asking themselves “When can I move in?”)
There were also public playgrounds in Chicopee Village, as well as a store for residents that sold fresh vegetables and other foods. (By now, readers would be forgiven for demanding to be able to move in.)
Health, safety and well-being were primary concerns. (A book in our archives about Chicopee in Georgia has chapter headings titled Safety, Health and Happiness.) Not only did the mill have the latest safety standards and equipment (including automatic fire sprinklers), but the village had a telephone relay system for residents to report any kind of emergency. A water filtration plant was built to provide pure, filtered water to the community. Chicopee Village also had a trained nurse in residence.
Johnson & Johnson had some precedent for building employee housing. Just a few decades earlier, the Company bought and renovated houses for employees in New Brunswick, on Morrell Street. Chicopee Village was of special interest to General Robert Wood Johnson, and he put his beliefs about the social responsibilities of business into its planning and construction. With Chicopee Village, Johnson & Johnson put into practice its emphasis on health, safety, hygiene and quality of life for employees (and by extension, their families), and created a model community that’s still talked about today by the descendents of those who lived there.
By the way, if you're interested in taking a tour through one of the Chicopee Village houses in the present day, you can do so for a short time on this site.
In the textile industry of the 1920s, Chicopee Mills and Chicopee Village were seen as the greatest advance ever taken to upgrade the status of southern textile employees. [Robert Wood Johnson, The Gentleman Rebel, by Lawrence G. Foster, Lillian Press, 1999, p. 171] And although we take things like indoor plumbing, electricity and central heating for granted today, for the employees who were experiencing these necessities for the first time, it was truly life-changing. Years later, Robert Wood Johnson would codify the ideas that influenced the building of Chicopee Mills and Chicopee Village in Georgia into a one-page document that still guides Johnson & Johnson today: Our Credo.
Fascinating! I certainly hope some people who lived and worked there will comment and add their memories.
Hiii...Amazing History of Johnson & Johnson
I was born in Chicopee Village to Alice Brownlow Black and Thomas E Black.
Both my parents worked in the Mill. All my siblings were born in the Village also. (from 1931-1942). The whole Village raised the children. We had the best school and excellent teachers. I remember all the activities in the 30's and 40's. We all played tennis, basketball,softball, skated all summer and joined in parades, even had a Rythem Band. Each year there was a Community Picnic. We had Health care with a Nurse 24/7 and a Doctor all week. This Dr. even made house calls.
I even had my wedding in Our house.
While in High School, I was allowed to work for Chicopee Mill in the Office on the PBX board. I loved my life there.
Thanks for sharing your experiences growing up in Chicopee Village. It sounds like it was an amazing community with amazing people!
I LIVED IN CHICOPEE, ALL MY LIFE, CHICOPEE MASS. AND WONDERED HOW CHICOPEE GEORGIA GOT ITS NAME. I EVEN WENT TO THE TRADE SCHOOL THAT WAS IN THE CHICOPEE MFG BUILDING ALONG THE BANKS OF THE CHICOPEE RIVER WHERE THEY GOT THEIR POWER. THE BUILDING HERE HAS OF COURSE BEEN PRETTY MUCH DEMOLISHED. IT WAS JUST UPRIVER FROM AMES MFG. CO. WHICH MANUFACTURED, STARTING WITH SHOVELS THEN STARTED MAKING SWORDS AND CANNON AND BELLS FOR CHURCHES, FOR BOTH THE NORTH AND SOUTH UNTIL THE START OF THE CIVIL WAR.
My grandfather, Raymond Swetenburg, was in charge of the Chicopee facility in Gainsville, GA for many years. He was a great man. It is interesting to read about the facility's history.
My dad worked at Chicopee from the late 1940's until he retired in the early 1970's. Though we did not live in the village, I remember attending many community functions, especially the great picnics, when I was a young boy. My dad constantly raved about Chicopee workers, and was proud to be a member of the JNJ family of employees. General Johnson came to Gainesville at least twice a year. Believe me, it was a grand occasion when he came to visit.
My grandparents lived in Chicopee Village from the 40s until the mid 70s, I think. Their names were Fred and Morine Stringer Simpson. My great grandfather, Arthur Stringer, was supervisor of the mill for a time. He passed away before I was born but I heard many stories about him. I have great memories of visiting my grandparents a lot while they lived in the Village.
The Chicopee legacy continues,
1. Chicopee Woods Golf Course,
2. Chicopee Ag & Equestrian Center,
3. The Chicopee Village continues,
4. The Mill's transformation into an industrial site, and
5. The Chicopee Center in Athens is an important support facility for UGA.
Plus many people over a number of generations have developed very positive lives with the support and vision provided by J&J throughout NE GA.
The decision to invest in Gainesville & NE GA was a "Game Changer"!
I appreciate my time in Gainesville and working with Chicopee & J&J.
I lived in the village from 1965 to1975 with my mother and father and 2 brother's and one sister. It was a great place to grow up. We all went to chicopee schopl and the baptist church where we all all go with our own families to this day
Eventhough we don't go back as far as some, we bought a house ( for $6,500.00, payments were $53.94 monthly) & moved to The Chicopee Village in 1966 moved in 1995. Two of our four children were born while living in The Village. All four grew up in The Village, attended Chicopee School later to be called Sylvester B. Jones Elementary. We presently attend & are active in the Chicopee Baptist Church My children rode bikes, played ball and had friends all over The Village. Very fond memories!
Thanks for this blog! My Grandfather, Joe Whelchel ran the barber shop that was located in the village. My father grew up in the village and so did I. I still live in Chicopee Village. My grandson is the 5th generation of our family to grow up living in Chicopee, Georgia! We have a tremendous history thanks to Johnson and Johnson.
My grandmother's cousin Molly Stancil grew up in Chicopee Village. She would eventually move in with us in the 1960's and took care of me and my brothers and sisters while my mom and dad worked. She moved back to Chicopee in the late 1970's to take care of her sister who had cancer. She had two sisters and they lived in the brick house that I remember visiting as a child. It was on a corner lot and steps led up to the porch as is described in the archives. It was near the Blackshear place if I'm recalling correctly which may or may not have some link to Chicopee and/or the Mill. I believe the house had two bedrooms but there may have been three. Molly often talked about working at the mill but I never knew it was owned by J&J. This is very interesting historical information, and I'd like to thank you all for publishing this.
There was a Community House in Chicopee Village that was used for group and community meetings....One of my aunts or uncles got permission for our family to use it for a Family Reunion.....That must have been about 1948 give or take a few years....It was the last time that all my great aunts and uncles were together before they began to pass away.....I wonder if there are any records of the groups that used this Community Center and the dates.....I am a member of the Davis Family.......
In reply to by CHARLES S. DAVIS
Charles, it's great that your family was able to use the Community House in Chicopee Village for a family reunion! Although we do have a number of documents in our archives relating to Chicopee Village, we unfortunately don't have the records of who would have used the Community House for events. Those records would have been kept by the Community House. Perhaps someone else out there with a connection to Chicopee Village will have information that might be helpful as you look for records of your family. Best of luck in your search!
I was blessed to spend the first 22 years of my life in Chicopee (1941- 1963). To say this was a unique and very special place may be an understatement. All the homes and public areas were meticulously maintained. There were signs posted along the sidewalks reminding you to "Keep Off The Grass". The elementary school was staffed by the best educators available and summer activities were well planned and made available to all the children who lived in the village. The community shopping complex consisted of a general store, a drug store, barber shop, service station, post office and later, a beauty salon and florist.
Chicopee's adult athletic teams (baseball & basketball) were considered to be among the best to compete in the old southern textile leagues of the 1940's and early 1950's. Many of those who were stars of that era are remembered today for their outstanding feats on the field and in the gym. Names like Cotton Reaves, John Henry Laws, Skinny Vaughn and Dean Evans are mentioned today with great respect for their accomplishments.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to call Chicopee our home will never forget how blessed we were to be a part of something so special. I think the best memories for us will always be about the wonderful people who lived in the village. As a boy I had a job delivering 'The Atlanta Constitution' and this gave me the opportunity to get to know every family in the village. The friendships that were forged in those days continue today and will never be forgotten.
In reply to by Don Elrod
Don enjoyed your commints,not many now that go back as far as we do to share early 30's and 40's.my mother Lille Hamilton and your Mother were close friends.Lee Elrod was a special person ,Berlin & i played lots of tennis before he had the hip problem.tennis courts right across the rpad from where you lived.
My mother's family (Candler and Clara Cagle) lived in the village. I remember visiting there as a child and enjoying the village so much. Everything was so pretty and well kept. I always had so much fun there with the tons of friends I made on these visits. I knew from the start that this was developed by J and J and was the most modern village in it' s day. I used to walk to the store by myself and was pushed in a wagon down the hill on a street and ended up way down the hill in the out field in the baseball park. Ha! Enjoyed my reunions at what my mom's family called the club house. What good memories I have of Chicopee Village and I what wonderful family and friends have lived there.
My great grandparents and many other relatives lived in Chicopee Village and I spent a lot of time there as a child/teen when they were alive. I use to visit all of the neighbors. Everyone knew your name and who you belonged to. You could not get away with anything!
I attended the elementary school in the 70s (which was renamed Jones Elementary, but everyone still called it Chicopee). Both my mother and grandmother worked in the school. The school librarian, Ms. Inez Jones (the school was named after her deceased husband who was principal), lived in the village and I knew her all my life. Mr. Shockley, my fifth grade teacher, lived there for many, many years. A lot of the people I went to school with lived in the village as well. In fact, a lot of them I went to school from 1st grade through graduation.
Most of my family attended Chicopee Methodist, but a lot also attended or preached at Chicopee Baptist.
Not a whole has changed from when I was a child with the village itself. It still maintains some of its charm.
My grandfather, BV White, Sr and my dad, BV White, Jr both retired from Chicopee. Ray Swetenberg and Robert Lawson were over the mill then. My grandparents lived in a Chicopee house deep in the woods-a big white house across from the village. They later moved into the Village. All of our birthday parties and family get togethers were in the white frame clubhouse-in what is now called Chicopee Woods.
Elachee Nature Science Center, where I am on the board, is now part of Chicopee Woods-so a whole new generation of children is playing in the woods. Thank you, General Johnson, for the gift of that land to Gainesville and wanting it to remain protected. Every time I'm at Elachee, I think of all the children who loved those woods before us.
I was born at five C Avenue and lived in the village until I married. It was a wonderful place to live. No one new ever moved in or out, so everyone knew everyone. My parents, Cora and Lester Pinson, worked in the mill from the day it opened until they retired. The company took good care of all of us. We had free health care. The company provided Scout programs for boys and girls. Every summer we Girl Scouts got to spend a week at Vogal State Park paid for by the company. We got to ride in the back of a company truck filled with hay. Could not do that today. I could go on and on but will stop.
In reply to by Marjorie Pinso…
Good to see your comments,those were special yrs. Tske csre
My parents started work in Chicopee Mill around 1929. My two brothers and I grew up in the village. When I finished high school, I went to work in Office at the mill. I worked there for about 14 Yrs. I've always counted it privilege to have lived there. We had a program every summer for all us kids. Tennis, games, movies,etc. Kept us busy all summer. What a wonderful place! So many memories.
Random Chicopee Memories
I am the daughter of Lawrence and Estelle Herrin. I was born in 1943. They had two sons older than me, Joe and Doug and one son younger, Wade. We lived in several houses in the village but the one we lived in the longest was 9 C Avenue. It was on the corner of Third Street and C Avenue. Directly across the street lived the Stancils; on the other side of Third by the Stancils lived Barker and Irene Jones and across from them was the Roy Bagby family. I still go to Church with their daughter, Kay.
Following are just some random memories I have of growing up in Chicopee Village in no particular order; just as they come to my mind.
Weekly pay coming in small brown envelopes, cash inside with deductions written on outside.
Big steel, green glider swings in the grass next to the highway. Great on a Sunday afternoon.
The Guest House. If things started happening around there, you knew the “Big Bosses” were coming. I always wanted to just look inside that house but we never even walked in the yard.
Army convoys passing by. My oldest brother, Joe was in the Army, on his way to Louisiana for maneuvers and they were passing by the Village. Joe pretended to have engine problems and with his buddies help; they pulled the truck to the side of the road, Joe ran to our house. Mother loaded him up with the cake she had just made, left over biscuits from breakfast, bread and peanut butter. He ran back, jumped into the truck and headed along his way, leaving Mother and the rest of the family with joyful tears.
Lining up in the hallway at school for vaccinations. Free to us and given in the Library by the company nurse.
Seeing Dr. Garner, getting a prescription, taking it to the drug store where they put it on the bus to be picked up at the station in town by Whatley’s Pharmacy worker and then sent back on the bus by the end of the same day.
The Ice Man treating us kids to slivers of ice after he had chopped off the block to be carried into the house. Those ice tongs looked HUGE to me.
Milk Man delivering milk to our house in glass bottles with cardboard caps.
Walks to the filter plant in the spring to pick violets and Daddy would put sweet shrubs blooms in his handkerchief for me to smell the rest of the day. Daddy said we could only pick a few violets; we had to save them for others to enjoy. PIGS!! Oh the joy of finding the little heart shaped leaves that meant if Daddy used his pocket knife and dug gently, he could dig up the root that had a bulb at the end that looked like a baby pig.
Parties at the Club House, dancing to the hits of the day, spin the bottle.
Girlfriends taking peanut butter sandwiches and Kool-Aid in mason jars into the woods for a picnic. It was safe back then. Then, if in season, we would pick blackberries until we had our fill only to come home covered in “Chiggers”. Mother would put bleach and then clear nail polish on mine.
First playground equipment at new school. I never went to the old school across the highway, I think my first grade year was the first full year in the new school.
Clamp on skates that had to have a key to tighten them on your old shoes. Dare not lose your key, we would skate in groups all day. Up and down the streets.
Few cars, even fewer phones. We could skate or ride our bikes without fear because we didn’t have to watch for cars. If we needed to place a call; we went to the store and used the one there for free. It was in the hallway, close to the bathrooms. You just had to tell the operator the number you wanted her to call for you.
Ruby South doing the ladies hair at one end of the barber shop with Barber Joe at other end.
Playing HORSE at the Boy Scout Cabin at the end of 4th Street.
Target practice at the trash pile with Daddy and brothers.
Mother doing laundry with old wringer washing machine then hanging clothes on line in backyard. Oh, the sweet smell and feel of those sheets that had hung in the sun all day!
Walking to and from school, even home for lunch. No lunchroom at school in those days.
Cold, smooth marble countertop in drug store; coke floats, Mandy Stancil, perfume samples, “Evening in Paris” perfume in small, dark blue bottles.
Movies outside on big screen at ball park bleachers in summer.
Houses inspected by company for cleanliness, painted inside and outside on schedule by company and they even furnished our light bulbs!
Coal houses built onto side of the houses, so cool inside them.
Men and women walking home from work.
Families sitting on front porches, sometimes the women stringing beans or shelling peas.
Houses sold by number of rooms at a cost of $1,000.00 per room. Our house had three bedrooms, kitchen, living room, bath, front & back porch. It was known as a five (5) room house because they didn’t count the bath or porches. What a deal for the families!!
Christmas play in the gym.
First branch, second branch, Rocky Ford, catching minnows and crawfish.
Dungarees, not jeans sold at company store along with overalls, shoes, candy in large glass jars. Even had charge accounts, just tell them to charge it; didn’t have to tell whose name, they already knew.
Riding bus into town for a nickel.
Playing “Kitty wants a Corner” and “Kick the Can”; “tug of war” if we could find a rope.
Leaks in water tank. Some boys even crossed the road to play in the spray of water. News spread fast!
Let outside from class to watch parachute jumpers practice landing at mill yard.
Trick or treating on “our own side” of the village out of courtesy.
Getting very own mailbox at Post Office was something to be happy about.
Sweethearts walking around the block, maybe two before Dads got angry.
Clinic visits to see nurse for scrapes, sprains, sore throats, etc. I can still recall the smell of that office.
Class voting in fourth grade. I voted for Eisenhower because I liked the way it felt to say his name instead of saying Stephenson.
Mr. Carlin, our policeman riding the streets, though not much crime in our village.
The Goat Man in his small wagon, pulled by goats with more walking along the side and trailing behind; with pots and pans hanging on the side of the wagon clanging as he went. Camping in the spot next to the highway, near the Baptist Church. People stopping to see the bearded gnome of a man and his wares.
Hobos sitting in open boxcars as the train rumbled along the tracks.
Whistle of the steam engine that pulled the train.
Going to the barn to dig for worms to use for fishing at the filter plant pond.
Learning to drive on the dirt road from “H” Avenue to the Club House and back, my brother Doug by my side.
Miss Bessie Bickers, founder of the Hall County Humane Society, coming to school each spring to talk mostly to the boys urging them to please don’t use their BB rifles to shoot birds and small animals.
Miss Marelle Cronic, the first grade teacher for many years. Only slightly taller than her students but with a giant heart and influence on children.
Test flights of the new C130 transport plane and getting out of class to watch as it flew over. I was probably 10 or 11 at the time.
Each memory made even more precious by the loss of so many that contributed to the making of them.
In reply to by Melinda H. Gravitt
Linda, if you "get" this please contact me at email@example.com
Wonderful Chicopee memories . . . my grandparents and uncle worked for decades at the mill. He shares stories with me, and I just read these memories--he was immensely blessed by hearing them, and that prompted more memories. He remembers Cap Stringer, the police chief, who had formerly been the Warden of the Chicopee Prison. He was a great, big guy with thick rimmed glasses, and his eyes were as big as crocodile eyes! He watched carefully over his flock. He would scare people to death with those eyes because he was so huge and overpowering. He would grab a suspect by the shirt, put his face right up to his face and tell him, "You behave yourself!" The suspect would respond and say, "Thank you, Captain!"
Everybody who knew his history had reason to respect him. He was so huge that the biggest person would cower under his gaze.
He members Hazel Harden, riding with some people, including Frank Youngblood, coming down H Avenue from the Bennett Road and trying to decide to turn right on I Avenue or continue straight down H Avenue. Rather than disobey driving instructions from Frank Youngblood and Eugene Harden, she could not decide whether to turn right or continue down H Avenue. Consequently, she compromised and took the middle portion, which led into Mrs. McDonald's yard, straight into her prized plum tree, whereupon Mrs. McDonald, in her bonnet, pounced upon the offending party and berated them loudly and reprimanded them for destroying her prized plum tree.
I am working right now in a building in the Chicopee Facility area. I remember growing up in Gainesville GA and every time you drove by you would marvel at the care of the lawns and facility it's self. Does anyone know why it closed down? Sterile gauges are still in wide use today. I don't understand why Johnson and Johnson left.
I lived at six j avenue with my family, ralph, martha, doug for twelve years. Cant think of a more wonderful place to be from. Loved every day we were there. Wonderful neighbors, the kemps, davises, miss chandler. Right across from the school gym. Loved all my teachers, especially miss ledford. Pat
We lived at six j avenue for twelve years. Ralph martha, doug and pat edge. Best place to live, best neighbors, the kemps, davises, miss chandler. Best friends, some of us still stay in contact. The rock in front of the school seemed so big back then. My son, jason attended school there for two years in the late seventies. I have an aunt who still lives there, nell. As I said it was a great place.
In reply to by patricia edge voyles
My great aunt lives at 6 J now. Wonderful house!
The Chicopee Village Club house is now owned by and located at Oakwood First Baptist Church Oakwood Georgia. It was first used as a youth building now is used for Senior Adults, Pray Meetings, etc. Do you know when it was obtained by OFBC and moved to it's current location at the church in Oakwood, GA.
I am privileged. I was born and grew up in The Chicopee Village and most of the values that I hold true were learned there. I lived first on 3rd street next door to the Elrods with my paternal grandparents Jim & Mindy, so that I could attend school at Chicopee. My grandfather was one of the first employees at The Mill. We lived second on 6th street next door to the McGees until school moved from the building behind the mill into the new school building that fronted on 6th street. When the Turks moved from the house at The Barn behind The Mill we relocated to there and that is where my brother, sister and I lived until we left to raise our own families. We, who lived on the property outside of the village, Clarks, Baileys, Laws, Willis', Potts, Martins, Cantrells, Carpenters all had a special place from which to view the world and some challenges that the children that lived in the village didn't have, primarily time & distance, in that to get to the Scout cabin or to the community store to catch the bus to go to high school we had to leave early and run fast to be on time. For many of us the best time of our lives provided for and by Johnson & Johnson Enterprises. THANKS!
On October 27,1941 I was born on N avenue. I lived in Chicopee Village for 21 years. What a blessing an privilege to live there. One of fondest memories is about the Johnson Brothers. Even though I had never met them, I would be so excited when I would see their car parked in front of the house that was reserved for them. I knew they were in town. My brother Bill Hurley remembers standing on the Chicopee Bridge, April,1945 , with many others as the train took the body of Franklin D. Roosevelt back to Washington ,D.C. He had passed away in Warm Springs, Ga.
My family moved to Chicopee in 1946. We lived for a time on N Street and then moved to a larger house on C Avenue where we lived until my parents sold the house in 1959. My experience mirrors a lot of those already expressed here.
What I remember most was the Boy Scout activities -the Scout Cabin and the Scout campouts down at the Camporee Grounds in Chicopee Woods, with Grady Wilkins our Scoutmaster, hunting squirrels in all those mysterious woods, "Coach" Jones and midget football, school (Miss Eleanor Jones was the prettiest teacher I ever had!) - I still have our 7th Grade graduation picture - all 13 of us, the annual Halloween Carnival and the prerequisite walk along the "Spook Trail" to the Clubhouse, Teen night on Fridays at the Clubhouse, complete with a Seeburg Juke Box, Family Night at one of the old warehouses behind the mill with a movie serial every Thursday night, working in the Sewing Department one summer running a grommet machine that put grommets in tobacco cloth and most of all JUST LIVING IN THE GREATEST PLACE IN THE WORLD FOR A KID TO GROW UP IN!
Chicopee, I will never forget you.
My wife and I own a house on "J" ave. and lived there for several years. Our daughter who is 10 now , still talks about the "J". We still own the house and use it for rental property. We have fixed it up back to it's old time grandeur. It is a great place for families and still retains the charm of the 20's. We have been blessed to be the caretakers and will probably return to it eventually. We had the privilege of meeting some of the old time residents who worked at the mill and they had fond memories of the neighborhood.
I have lived in Gainesville for most of my life. Even worked at Chicopee woods gold coarse in High School. Now I worked directly across for this Chicopee Village. So Today January 31, 2015 I decided to take a special interest and learning about the history of the Village. To my own amazement Wow What true real history I find in my own home town and backyard i would say. It was a remarkable magical place I would call it at one time. Unity i would describe in one word for this little village. I sit here and ask myself why can't life our lives and especially my life be surrounded by such a family and people like this place had to offer. Have we as humans forgotten the true meaning of life and what a family truly is. Not only as our blood relatives but our extended family our community. I wish i could travel back in time and see what so many have describe of this magical place nested in Hall County Georgia. Life should be built more around a place as Chicopee is describe. Wow I am truly amazed I want to live in such a place not only in my own community but in life in general. This is how we should motto our lives and life among each other no matter what race or age or religion or even difference of opinions. I am pursuing my life in my dream of real estate my true calling and passion. One day I will develop a community as this place is describe as, looking very forward to such a day. I will always remember this website and how it has change my very life this day. Family, Community, Friends. UNITY that is the very thing that this world and every single life on this planet needs in order to survive and continue to exist on this planet. If not its ultimate doom no matter how many years away but eventually it is to come. So readers of this site and those to stumble across this site in the future. Think about such a place in our lives where we can live and be happy. Look after one another as Chicopee Village Does. Ty to the one who made this site amazing history it just changed my life forever.
I grew up in a 5 bedroom house on I Avenue. My father and mother worked in the mill. My parents were Inez and Frank Alexander. We attended the Baptist Church. I remember tennis courts, baseball fields, but no swimming pool. Frank took a job in Cornelia, Ga when Chicopee opened the lumite plant. So I only went lst, 2nd , 3rd grade at Chicopee. I remember Ms. Cronick as my lst grade teacher.
I marvel at how blessed we were, at that time in Georgia, to live in such a beautiful village. I would walk to the store to buy thread and bread for my mother. Mother sewed everything we wore. There were four girls in our family. How she did all that, I don't know. Frances, Juanita, Nadine and Jo Ann were the girls.
My father helped to build Chicopee Village and later moved his family into one of the homes there, and began working in the mill. I was born after the family moved to Chicopee and lived there until I married in 1964. We were living on 4th Street at that time. I have many beautiful memories of family and neighbors in Chicopee Village. Johnson & Johnson sold the houses to the employee and my father was able to purchase ours. He and my mother passsed away in 1979 and 1981 and at the time were still living on 4th Street.
Everybody knew everybody in Chicopee Village. On Halloween, we kids went trick or treating by ourselves after dark, without our parents and in costumes that were homemade. When we knocked on a door, we would have to go inside and the adults/children there would have to guess who we were before we got our treat. In those days there were no tricks, except maybe a few of the boys hiding and scaring everyone.
I completed 8 yrs at the Chicopee Elementary School and graduated at South Hall High School. I remember Mr Jones, Principle and Miss Cronick, Ms Rourk, Ms Bryant, Ms. Butts, Miss Ledford. I cannot remember the names of 6, 7 and 8 grade teachers but they were all wonderful.
The only thing I didn't like was having to visit the Clinic to see the Nurse or the Doctor (who, by the way, made house calls and visited the school a couple of times a year).
We just don't enjoy a true community spirit today like we had when we lived in Chicopee Village.
I still have family living in the area and enjoy a ride down memory lane when visiting.
My Aunt Rosette and her husband Fletcher Dyer lived on Ave C in the standard five room house they bought shortly after their marriage circa 1940. Fletcher worked in the mill as a loom mechanic until his death in 1975 missing three years there due to world war 2. Rosette lived in the house for over 50 years and is now in her late 90s.
I spent much of my youth there and always loved the place. LIfe in the village was a very basic, simplistic existence that endured until recently and was in a sense like going back in time whenever you turned in from the Atlanta Highway. There have been many times in my life in many places around the world where I woke up from a dream of being back in Chicopee village visiting the house on Avenue C. Even today, I sometimes think I might like to live out my final years in one of those wonderful old brick five room, one bathroom houses.
Chicopee Village is a wonderful mill village that housed many families; many of the children who grew up in this village have told me nothing but wonderful stories! Robert Wood Johnson must have been a visionary to plan such a terrific community.
Regards, Robert D. Strong
To Dan Emmett,
Your recollections brought a wonderful memory back for me. My family lived at 15 C Avenue, next door to your aunt and uncle, Rosette and Fletcher Dyer and your cousins Judy, Nancy and Randall. They were wonderful neighbors as were most of our Chicopee neighbors, but the Dyers were special to my family.
Somehow, they tolerated me, even to my pet squirrel falling down their chimney and almost dying of thirst before Mr. Dyer rescued him from behind the fireplace enclosure. In addition, I had dogs, cats, snakes and assorted other pets and vermin to torment them with.
We played organized "midget" football but all our other games were played in the field behind the houses, that separated C Avenue from B Avenue. So there was always a lot of yelling and commotion from one game or another. Yet we never had a complaint from the Dyers. Ever.
I still see Judy and her husband Terrell occasionally and more rarely, Mrs. Dyer, who is approaching 100 years. I have been away from Chicopee for 55 years and I am an old man now, but when I do see them, those days come flooding back to me.
I enjoyed reading all the stories about Chicopee. My grandfather and grandmother Milligan lived in the village in the 20' and 30's. They worked in the mill. My grandfather in the weave room. My mom and sister lived briefly in the mill village in the 80's. Both my daughters went to the school - Jones Elementry although we never lived there. In 1987 I went to work at Lumite. It was located down behind the old mill and was part of Chicopee Mill. It was a wonderful place to work. At certain times in the month you could buy things at the company store (located in the mill) at discount prices. There were many benefits to working at Chicopee. In the early 90's they sold off Lumite. It sold 3-4 times and Lumite Inc is currently located in Alto, Ga. No one has mentioned the tunnels that ran underground from the old mill to the mill village. I always found this interesting.
Thank you for this wonderful blog and the great walk down memory lane.
My family, Roy and Maggie LYNN Bagby, brother Harley, SISTER ELAINE and me, Kay lived first on 14 B Ave in a four room house but then a five room house became available so we moved in it at 7-C Ave. Loved all the neighbors. Played ball at the garages behind the Odell family, threw the ball over the garage then back again. Hide and seek was a very familiar game which I had my first had a grown up kiss behind the bushes!! Remember that, Jimmy Wallace? Nobody had to lock their doors because everybody trusted everybody back then. I remember my surprise birthday party when I was 12 , but Scotty Gunter was late and kind of gave the secret away. WOW, MY FIRST bike. Skates were gone by then but I wore the wheels off that thing. Lots of memories and I could go on and on but it would take up two much room. I'm back at my home church, Chicopee Baptist and love it. Wish I could go back and enjoy more good times but at 71, I'll live here in Oakwood but always remember growing up in this wonderful village where great memories were made.
In reply to by KAY Mclain
Good memories ,you recall of those days very special
I was born to Clide and Louie "Red" Kennedy in Chicopee Village in 1939, and my family moved away shortly thereafter. They left to have a farm to keep my teenage brothers busy. I wish I knew which house we lived in but I've never made a note of it. One thing I remember is how my mother wanted me to look and act "like the Purvis girls." I believe my family lived near Harry and Sally Purvis with their five daughters. I heard many times "well, the Purvis girls would never act like you are acting." I never knew them, and they never knew that they were always my positive examples as I was growing up.
My family lived in Chicopee in the mid 1970s. My father, Rev. George Thompson, was the pastor at the Methodist Church. We lived in what was the Methodist parsonage but my understanding is it was at one time the plant foreman's house. It was the nicest parsonage we ever lived in. It was a bit bigger than most houses and sat facing the large field in the front of the village. Great memories of playing with my friends and riding bikes all over the village and walking back and forth to Jones Elementary because it was so close. I remember the Methodist church had a big bicentennial celebration in 1976 and the entire church dressed up in period costumes. A great place to live and I remember those days fondly.
In reply to by Kevin Thompson
Its my understanding that some of my great, great, great grand parents owned the southern half of hall county and sold all the land what's now known as Chicopee woods to J@J back in the teens, My great uncle built and lived in the rock house across from the golf course, was a charter member of Blackshear place Baptist and my grand parents lived next door to them. Their house burned (grand parents) in the 40's and they moved to Warner Robbins .
I worked at the Chicopee Mill until it's closing. Great place to work. I just received my pension from the Mill. Great place to work. I miss it!
In the early days of mill and village planning, up in Massachusetts there was a manufacturer of loom machinery owned by one of the prominent Draper families. I'm presuming that J & J purchased the loom machines and installed them in their bustling textile mills, especially those that produced cotton yarns used the making of gauze and sterile plasters. In the history of J & J there is mention of one Earl Sumner Draper who came from Massachusetts to the Southeast USA to design mill communities, in particular the Chicopee Mill and Village of 1927, as noted in the archives. What I'd like to know is this. What is the relationship his father had, if any, with the Drapers that designed and built loom machinery? Were they related at all? Were they cousins? Earl was a well educated maverick. He revolutionized mill planning and development. Were the mills he designed with J Sirrine, Architect and Engineer, equipped with Draper's looms and other machinery? One final question. Why are curtains also called drapes?