When I learned that yet another new occupant would be taking up residence in the Dobbs/Chandler/Granger building on Woodstock’s Main Street, that line from an old tune came to mind. “Everything old is new again.”

Although some records indicate that a Mr. Lacey was Claude Chandler’s first business partner there, the store that may have opened in 1905 as a grocery store soon expanded with a different partner, Wiley Dobbs, Sr. Along with the sale of a variety of items, it became the town’s first funeral parlor and Claude Chandler is said to have been Woodstock’s first undertaker. This was before embalming was in use. Recorded descriptions and printed ads tell of funeral services offered in 1914, and a mule-drawn hearse parked behind the store, and caskets on display on the store’s mezzanine. An undated letterhead in the Preservation Woodstock files shows “Dobbs Hardware & Furniture Co. ‘Undertakers’, Woodstock, Georgia.” The listing of items for sale included stoves, farming tools, plows, fencing, pea hullers, corn shellers, Ford auto parts, wagons, beds, tables, kitchen safes, matresses (sic), window shades, groceries, and coffins and caskets. All under one roof! While this document cannot be verified as pertaining to the Dobbs/Chandler business, it remains as a relic of the times. My research, while not exact and which is always in danger of misinterpretation, reveals a new partnership, the marriage of the children of the two businessmen. On Feb. 17, 1933, Claude Chandler’s daughter, Maye, and Wiley Dobbs, Jr. were married. (The names in this story give headaches to genealogists. Claude Chandler’s wife, who died soon after giving birth to Maye, was (Laura) Maye Dobbs Chandler. Therefore, she was Maye Dobbs Chandler and her daughter was Maye Chandler Dobbs.) Claude died at 101 years of age in 1984. Aside from his many business endeavors, he also served as Woodstock’s mayor at one time. Some old-timers remember him, and many of us also recall Maye who died in 2009 at age 99. She is fondly remembered as the pianist who, for many years, entertained at Reinhardt College for Sunday lunch which was open to the public.

This building may be one of only two in the old town from the early 1900s owned by the family of the original owners. The other is in the same family. The list of the many different occupants of this building is a hodge-podge of ventures. As with any list, it is probably incomplete. If the walls could talk, they would tell stories of Ernest Thompson who ran a Ford dealership there. And it is where, in 1961, Priest Homefurnishings opened its first Woodstock location. Not long afterward, Roy Bell was there. He is fondly remembered for he was the RCA TV sales and service go-to person. That was very big news. Many of us purchased our first color-TV set from him. It was a life-changer. Later, Riley Medley’s Restaurant offered home cooking and great hospitality. Folks found the food to be delicious, and Riley, with his down-home humor, was always around to keep that warm atmosphere alive. Samson’s Mall of Antiquity, and later Delilah’s Den of Antiquity, spent many years making antique lovers happy. Granger’s Motorcycle shop was there for a while, and not too long ago a shoe store, Natural Strides, kept us on our toes. More recently, Sweet River Rough River, a clothing boutique and outfitter, opened to accommodate the many hikers, bikers, and nature lovers who had discovered Woodstock’s new craze with the outdoors. Made Mercantile is the newest shop to reside in the building. It is actually a group of entrepreneurs featuring small scale retail products in production and for sale. Shoppers can meet and interact with those who are designing and making their products. Spaces feature such wares as skin care, florals, jewelry and embroidered gifts. Some spaces are still available. This method is a new way of introducing a startup business to customers. Another hodge-podge, in keeping with the building’s history. The building has been remodeled and has never been more beautiful. Its unique facade features ornamental cast iron fleur-de-lis panels from the Mesker companies which were in operation for a few decades beginning in the late 1800s. While found in many old cities, it is not often seen in a small town such as ours. This feature has often been overlooked by previous occupants, but with the current remodeling it is prominent. It takes us back to our roots of over 100 years ago, preserving the past and its culture while introducing a bright, industrious, and entrepreneurial future. How appropriate that it has opened during Woodstock History Month.

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Juanita Hughes is a retired head of the Woodstock Public Library and a local historian.

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