The newly unveiled tour originating with Marietta’s 175th Anniversary Committee is a joint cooperative project of a group of black community leaders, the Marietta Visitors Bureau and the City of Marietta. A committee consisting of Deanne Bonner, Bill Bruton, Pearl Freeman, Theresa Jenkins, Dr. Tom Scott, Feliccia Taylor, and Josetta and Louis Walker was formed to create the tour.
“It is important that people know more about the black community and its historical value to the city itself and the county,” said Josetta Walker, who has been married to Louis for 48 years in August. They have been residents of Marietta since 1965. Both retired from Marietta City Schools. They have one grown daughter and son-in-law and three grandsons.
The tour spotlights 13 sites of historic significance to the black community and Marietta’s history dating back to the Civil War. Sites are within a mile radius of the Marietta Square.
“(The committee) collected all kinds of information concerning places that were historical in the black community beginning with Old Zion Baptist Church, spreading out into the community with other areas that we thought people would be interested in and were significant,” Walker said.
Some sites on tour are Old Zion Baptist Church, Cole Street Baptist Church, the original site of Turner Chapel Church, the Blue Eagle Fire Company (a black fire company formed in 1881), Lemon Street Elementary School as well as sites of early black businesses and black leaders.
“What a wonderful gift for our community to be able to share with visitors and locals alike,” said Bill Bruton, City Manager of Marietta.
Theresa Jenkins, executive director of the Marietta Visitors Bureau, added that several family reunion groups were already requesting the brochure.
“We’re thrilled to have this wonderful black heritage component to add to our tourism product.”
Walker said, “The history (of the black community) has never been told. People in general now want to know more about the history of where they stay, where they live, where they go for entertainment. This aspect has not been told before. People will want to know more.”
The committee’s next step is to put signage at the sites. Once that is completed, the committee has plans to produce a driving tour of black heritage sites. Other possibilities include an audio tour or a mobile app.
“There is a history there that needs to be told. This (tour) will do more to tell that history than anything that I’ve ever known to happen to Marietta,” Walker said.
The brochure is available at the Marietta Visitors Bureau at 4 Depot St., City Hall at 205 Lawrence St., and Old Zion Heritage Museum at 165 Lemon St. The brochure will also be available at www.mariettasquare.com. For more information, contact the bureau at (770) 429-1115.