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Old pecan purveyors’ buildings get new life

By Kay S. Pedrotti Many years ago, motoring south to Florida on Highway 41 included a number of tourist attractions ‘“ two of the sweetest were probably Swint’s Candies in Milner and B. Lloyd’s Pecans in Barnesville. Then an interstate and four-lane highway replaced the old scenic route. The two companies were among many that suffered from lack of traffic and trade. Each is now undergoing renovations to provide new life for the historic buildings. Swint’s began operation in its present wooden building in Milner in 1925. Ink and Marie Swint founded the business; some years later they sold it to their nephew and his wife, Ken and Beverly Grant. It is now owned by Eric and Jessica Watson of the Redbone area; their family has had a pecan growing and selling business for several years in Monroe County. B. Lloyd’s opened its first storefront in Barnesville in 1930 then branched out to other locations. Originally built as a cotton-milling company for making underwear, the building at Atlanta and Railroad streets was at one time used by a company making children’s caskets and the Franklin Buggy Company. After 1990, B.Lloyd’s became a mail-order business and now has Savannah chef Paula Dean as its spokesperson. Bill and Anne Claxton own the building and have turned the location into an antique mall with many improvements inside and out. Jessica Watson says she and her husband bought the Swint’s building July 8 and renovated the showroom in front. The shipping business remains the same, she says, but the Watsons plan to add some new products and a metal building behind the wooden one to house a new kitchen. There are also plans for a pecan shed on the site for offering raw shelled and unshelled nuts. ’When the room off the showroom is finished,’ she said, ‘it’ll have a gift shop, just another way for people to enjoy Swint’s. It’s exciting, but it’ll be a long process to complete all the renovations and the new buildings.’ She has retained all the Swint’s best-sellers including pecan logs, Sweet Dreams, Sugar and Spice pecans, salted pecans and divinity. At Antiques on Atlanta, the Claxtons have kept the historic feel of the building while making the interior an eye-popping wonderland of colors, textures and unique treasures. There are now 17 vendors, some with more than one booth, who have brought their wares into the building. ’We wanted to offer things people can’t find just anywhere,’ said Bill Claxton. He pointed out two large display cards of Dr. Grabow pipes and the salesman’s carrying case. ’Years ago, the salesman retired and gave his wares to the man who lived next door to him. That man sold the collection to us,’ Bill said. ‘It’s hard to find something like that, so complete and in excellent shape.’ Anne has gone back to work full-time as a nurse at Heritage Inn care home. She and Bill work at the store on weekends; during the week it is supervised by Mary Beth Burrell. Before they moved to Barnesville, Anne ran an antique store called The Regal Rummage Shop in Lawrenceville and operated the Jewelry Store on Main Street for years. ’Anne is the business person,’ said Bill. ‘I’m happy to be on the building side.’ He plans to open another mall area off the main showroom and eventually develop the basement of the 20,000-square-foot building. A very small list of things available at Antiques on Atlanta includes turned wood items, handmade high-end ink pens, crystal, carnival glass, antique children’s furniture, wall hangings and quilts and collectibles from John Wayne to Mickey Mouse. One of Anne’s furnishings in her other shop ‘“ a huge antique countercabinet ‘“ has made its way into the mall but it doesn’t stand between the customers and the salespeople. ’We opened up the business area,’ Bill said, ‘and put this counter and stools in so we could do business over the counter like people used to. It’s just another way of recognizing the historic value of the building.’

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