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Norcross Old Library Holds Toy Drive, History DVD Launch Party

The Norcross History Center and the Norcross Woman's Club held events this month in the recently renovated library

The Norcross Old Library on North Peachtree Street has been busy this season, in more ways than one.

Since its renovations this past September, the 1921 library hosted the DVD launch party for "Norcross: A Living History" and the Norcross Woman's Club Annual Open House, both held in the past two weeks.

During the events, the woman's club also had a toy drive for the Norcross Cooperative Ministry. The club collected 60 toys for the kids being sponsored this Christmas by the co-op, which is more than last year.

Many of the toys came from the DVD launch party, which was held Dec. 1 and brought so many people that the library doors almost couldn't close, said Anne Webb, the director of the Norcross History Center and president of the Norcross Woman's Club.

Hosted by the Norcross History Center, the DVD party was promoting "Norcross: A Living History," which is a two-disc, three-hour documentary of interviews from legendary Norcross residents.

Those interviewed include: Rufus Dunnigan, whose parents were the founding members of Hopewell Baptist Church and he was the church clerk for 40 years; the late Col. John Adams; former Norcross Mayor Lillian Webb; the late Nathaniel Brown, who was current Councilman Craig Newton's uncle and who founded the NAACP in Gwinnett County; and Hallie McClendon, who served on the Norcross Housing Authority.

"It is filled with people who tell about Norcross [and] the stories, the lore, the history that they know, as well as their personal life experiences," said Anne Webb, who's the daughter-in-law of the former mayor. "These are people who helped shape Norcross and laid the foundation for what we enjoy today."

Webb added that the documentary took three years to make, which is lengthy considering the history center has been operating only since 2008. The DVD is also dedicated to former Norcross History presidents Martha Miller Adams and Irene Ewing Crapo, who also were honored at the party this month.

The DVD is on sale for $25 and can be purchased from any Norcross History Center boardmember, including Webb, who can be contacted at awebb@norcrosshistorycenter.org or 770-734-9924.

But one thing that the ladies of the Norcross Woman's Club is most proud of is the renovation of the library, which finished in September. They brought in an interior designer for assistance with the look, which helped preserve the 1920s feel. The club, who owns the library, kept the windows intact (except for one, which had a fan in it), chose a neutral 1920s color for the walls, replaced the electrical work, and had new wooden floors installed. All the furniture, such as the librarian's desk, the rotating book-return shelf and the tables, are original, too.

Preserving the old-time feel of the place was important because the woman's club is trying to confirm if the library was designed by Andrew Carnegie. One particular indicator that the library was by the famous businessman and philanthropist is the stoop leading to the front door.

"Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant, wanted steps always to be up to his libraries to remind us to look for higher education," said Webb.

If it is indeed a Carnegie building, the library could be elligible for a Carnegie trust.

The Norcross Woman's Club also is restructuring its organization. The women are busy putting a new business model in place, such as developing workshops for the busy woman.

For more information on the Norcross History Center and the Norcross Woman's Club, visit their websites at norcrosshistorycenter.org and gfwcgafwcnorcrosswomansclub.org.

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