Augusta is a Musta! (January 2015)
By Urban Traveler Lynn Jones
Were you aware that just a mere 4.5 hours away lies a weekend vacation rich in history, culture and adventure?
Augusta, Ga., home of the legendary James Brown shares many characteristics of our very own Jacksonville. Like Jacksonville’s historic fire of 1901, Augusta had a historic fire in 1916 that destroyed most of the city. A river also runs through it with the the Savannah River as a mainstay of industrial and tourist transportation.
As the 116th largest city in the United States, Augusta is best known for hosting The Masters Tournament each spring. There are also several black owned businesses that are “must do’s” for visitors. Lunch at Café 209, owned by Cassandra Brinson, features a diverse menu that includes the likes of fried tilapia, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and sweet tea. Your stay will not be complete without a tour of the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, Laney-Walker Historic District and Springfield Village Park. Lucy Craft Laney, (April 13, 1854 – October 24, 1933). It is named after an early African-American educator who in 1883 founded the first school for black children in Augusta, Georgia.
The Augusta Market on the River is a Flea Market overflowing with vendors selling their wares, playing jazz music and cooking up some delectable vittles! Also worth a visit is the Augusta Canal National Heritage and Discovery Center and the Petersburg Boat Tour. The venues consist of an Enterprise Mill that engages visitors with stories and unique artifacts that detail the people, and progress that shaped the destiny along the Savannah River.
The Augusta Museum of History is a historical vision of artifacts, people, places and legends that were born and raised in Augusta, Ga. The museum also explores the History of golf and its legacy in Augusta, the extraordinary people that changed the game, and the unique courses that made the region a golf destination. Outside of the museum is the Historic Augusta Trolley that takes visitors on a Tour of the city.
The informative trolley tour includes a ride past the wealthiest African-American woman of the late 19th century, Amanda Dickson. Daughter of a white planter and his slave, Dickson fought all the way through the Georgia Supreme Court for her inheritance and won. It also includes the home of Emily Tubman, a white woman and 19th-century philanthropist. She is remembered for offering her slaves the option of returning to Africa. About half accepted her offer. The trolley also stopped at Cedar Grove Cemetery, were in 1820, Augusta allotted 40 acres of land where slaves were laid to rest in wooden boxes or were simply wrapped in clothe and buried in unmarked, shallow graves.
On the visit I had the opportunity to speak with James Brown daughter, Deanna Brown. She reflected on her memories, “I remember my dad as loving man, who taught us to do the right thing. I miss his calls during the night” she said. Deanna continued, “I toured with my father and I also was his friend. Yes he had some issues’, but his desire to spread music throughout the nation was his mission. He had a traumatic upbringing, but he always took time to spend with his kids and was always a family man.” When asked what she thought about the movie and the controversy surrounding his death, Deanna remarked, “Well we have not settled the estate, but in the meantime I have started the James Brown Family foundation that celebrates his legacy his music and hid life. I’m proud of my dad and he was proud of his kids. I am also proud of the movie, because my dad would be proud. My father was a strict father like he was on stage. He was a leader, an educator, and a person who didn’t make it past the 7th grade and even though he only had a few pennies he rose to insurmountable heights. Also I want people to know that there was much more that was not included in the movie. As the foundation moves forward we want to thank his fans and everyone that he was associated with.”
Forgive me, I digress! I definitely have to mention two more stops on the tour. Dinner on Augusta Artists Row at Frog Hollow Tavern, an inexpensive and exquisite restaurant where local dinning is warm and inviting! At Frog Hollow Tavern you experience farm to table fresh fruits, vegetables and special ingredients and an extensive wine list! My fare at Fog Hollow tavern was the, “Tavern Style “Cioppino”, FHT Chorizo Sausage, Sapelo Island Clams, Mussels, GA Shrimp, Grouper, Local Tomato Saffron Broth, Garlic.” Now I hear you smacking your lips!! Frog Hollow Tavern is part of Artists Row, “a nonprofit organization represented by several galleries and shops in Downtown Augusta, Georgia. Established in 1994 as part of Augusta’s revitalization of the historic district along Broad Street, Artists Row is a vital part of the region’s thriving creative community and a favorite destination of visitors. Galleries, working art studios, specialty shops, tantalizing eateries and coffee houses flourish in this growing jewel along the Savannah River.” Last but not least on my tour, I stopped by the office of The Metro Courier, an African American newspaper and affiliate of the Jacksonville Free Press. Barbara Gordon is the Publisher and Managing Editor. Her office is filled with Augusta memorabilia and a jewelry shop showcasing various stones, bangles and pearls!
Summing up my trip, I have to attest that Augusta is a city that is vibrant and proactive in assisting small business owners in a district they can call their own, while celebrating Augusta’s history, culture and legacy.
If you have relatives in Augusta or just want to take a train or a ride to a destination that’s not too far and enjoy good food, historic analogy and my main man James Brown! Augusta is a Musta!
Signing off till next time, Lynn Jones, the Urban Traveler preparing for my next road trip!!
See more at http://www.visitaugusta.com.