Cumming Bandstand Listed on National Register
The Cumming Bandstand on the courthouse square has been named to the National Register of Historic Places. The Historical Society of Forsyth County, which nominated the structure to the National Register, and the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners have been notified that as of June 20, 2002 the Bandstand was accepted by the National Register Review Board and included on the prestigious list.
In January, 2002, the structure was placed on the Georgia Register of Historic Places by the State National Register Review Board following a review of the nomination submitted by the Historical Society.
The Bandstand, which is maintained by the Public Facilities Department of the county government under the watchful eye of Director Frank Halstead, is the oldest structure on the town square. Built in 1915 by John Robbs,the bandstand was erected for concerts by the Cumming Brass Band. It served in that capacity for only a short time, however, for members of the band soon departed Forsyth County in service to their country in World War I.
No public funds were expended on the construction of the Bandstand, as members of the Cumming Brass Band and friends raised the money privately. It was no surprise that this group chose John Robbs to build the structure, for he was frequently hired by the county government to work on bridges and other county projects. According to his grandson, Carroll Floyd, Robbs was likely selected because he was a real good carpenter.
To place the Bandstand in historical perspective, it was erected ten years after the brick courthouse, known informally as the 1905 courthouse, was built on the square. The Bandstand has survived the old courthouse, destroyed by fire, and another fire in close proximity to its corner on the square. The first blaze---in 1972---destroyed Cumming City Hall, a small building which began as a filling station within a few steps of the Bandstand. Then in 1973, arsonists burned the 1905 courthouse. Now almost three decades later with the demolition of older buildings to make way for the new, the Bandstand has become the oldest structure on the square.
Who owns the picturesque structure? The ownership of the Bandstand is a story in itself. It is unknown how long the band concerts continued after the Bandstand was erected, since some of the band members departed for military service. With the bands demise, the structure was given to the City of Cumming, which was expected to provide for its upkeep. However, the law is the law, and in seven years the Bandstand became the property of the Forsyth County government, as it was erected on county property.
The Bandstand may have ceased to be used for concerts by the Cumming Brass Band, but it was soon adapted for a variety of other purposes, one being the focal point for festivals and celebrations. One of the largest celebrations to be held on the Cumming Square was the grand opening of the chicken plant, Wilson and Company, in the 1940s. Farmers had changed crops from cotton to chickens and, with the opening of the plant, could market their birds nearby.The excitement over the plant opening drew a huge crowd which gathered to hear speeches from the Bandstand and to eat fried chicken on the courthouse lawn.
A few years later the fescue festivals began and lasted for about five years---from 1948 through 1953. For the farmers of the area, the improvement in soil conditions brought about by the planting of fescue was reason to celebrate, and celebrate they did. The Bandstand was again pressed into service with experimental fescue boxes gracing its exterior and speeches emanating from its interior.
Politics and the Bandstand went hand in hand. Politicians on all levels---local, state, and national---availed themselves of the Bandstand as a site from which a crowd could be successfully drawn. Gene Talmadge would speak from the structure when running for Governor of Georgia or United States Senator or when apprising the countys citizens of road improvements and future paving projects. Later his son, Herman, addressed Forsyth Countians from the Bandstand, as did Zell Miller, who would likewise become Governor and then U.S. Senator.
The Bandstand has been a multi-purpose structure, being used for musical performances by school groups at Christmas, until those choruses completely outgrew its capacity, and by numerous couples who have chosen it as the site for their weddings. In 1976, the Cumming Garden Club rehabilitated the Bandstand by repainting, re-roofing, replacing the slats (latticework) at its base, replacing soil around the foundation and planting shrubs around seven sides of the octagonal structure. Another organization, the Historical Society of Forsyth County, painted the Bandstand in 1998. It again received a sprucing up, this time by the Public Facilities Department of the county government, last fall in preparation for photographs to be used in the National Register presentation for the State National Register Review Board.