(Courtesy Virginia Historical Society)
ALGERNON SIDNEY BUFORD, for whom the City of Buford was named, was President of the Atlanta and Richmond Air-Line Railroad. He was of distinguished Virginian ancestry, a graduate of the University of Virginia, a lawyer by profession, and several times a member of the Virginia State legislative body. He was railroad president for 20 years during its period of expansion. A resident of Richmond, Virginia, he maintained an Atlanta office upstairs at 69 Whitehall Street during the construction of the railroad in Georgia and the Carolinas.
The “Town of Buford” was incorporated by Act of legislature August 24, 1872. The name was changed to the “City of Buford” in 1896.
On the time line of history, Buford is a newcomer. Although brief, Buford’s history has been rather impressive.
Buford never had the “sleepy little village” aura, which characterized most small towns of the 19th century and early 20th century. The town was early blessed with able, far-sighted citizens, interested in business and education as was evidenced by its rapid growth and early attention to schools. Buford was early called the “city of many factories.” A news article in the News-Herald of December 18, 1902 referred to Buford as the “New York of Gwinnett” in paying tribute to its industry and activity.
For more than 60 years Buford was the largest city in Gwinnett County and during most of that time it had the only significant industrial development in the county. During this period it exerted a powerful, many times dominant influence upon county politics. As early as 1900 Buford was the largest city in the county, and Sugar Hill Militia District listed more ad valorem taxpayers than any other district in the county.
Buford had the first bank in the county. In fact, Buford had two flourishing banks before any other permanent banking facilities were established in the county.
For most of its history Buford’s schools were widely recognized for quality education. For several decades, students came from other areas of the county and from adjoining counties to acquire the prestigious diploma from Buford High School.
Recent and current references to Buford’s past industry consistently label it “the tannery”, a serious misconception. While leather tanning was an important part of the city’s industrial complex and provided the leather for the other operations, it was only a part of the extensive manufacturers which made Buford nationally, even internationally known as “The Leather City”. At its zenith, Bona Allen, Inc. produced nationally known shoes, saddles of national and Hollywood reputation, harness, horse collars, and other leather products. The company also operated the only glue factory in the south. The city also conducted a large farming operation, which produced straw for horse collars as well as other farm products.
Other facts and interesting history have been made available to the public through the publication of “Historic Buford" by Handsel Grady Morgan. The book may be purchased at the Buford City Hall.
Historic Classic Homes & Other Historic Structures
Bona Allen Mansion
Built during 1912 and 1913 by Bona Allen and was occupied by Bona Allen, Jr. after the death of his father. It is on the National Register for Historic Places. The property is now operating as an event facility for weddings, parties and socials.
Bona Allen, Jr. home on Main Street. Later occupied by Bona Allen III (son of Wadleigh Allen) after Bona Allen, Jr. moved into the “mansion”.
|Three Allen Brothers. Left to right, Bona Allen, Jr., Victor H. Allen, and John Q. Allen|