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Photo Courtesy of Newnan Coweta Historical Society

UWG Newnan’s Next-door Neighbor: The McRitchie-Hollis Museum

Located on 74 Jackson Street in Downtown Newnan, right next to UWG’s satellite campus is the McRitchie-Hollis Museum, a 1937 Neoclassical home that now serves as a bastion of Newnan’s local history.

Jannette Emmerick

Located on 74 Jackson Street in Downtown Newnan, right next to UWG’s satellite campus is the McRitchie-Hollis Museum, a 1937 Neoclassical home that now serves as a bastion of Newnan’s local history.

Dubbed the “Peniston-Arnall-Thomasson Home,” the property was initially built in the late 1930s by Ellis Peniston and his wife Mildred Arnall Peniston, their niece then inherited it at one point with her husband Dr. James Thomasson. In the 1980s, the family sold the home to the Newnan Hospital, and then the City of Newnan acquired the property when the hospital relocated.

“There was a man who grew up in Newnan named Edgar Hollis, and when he passed in the 2000s, he left his estate— or at least part of it— to the Historical Society for the purpose of starting a furnishings museum,” said Larisa Scott, Executive Director of the Newnan Coweta Historical Society, soon to be known as the Newnan Coweta History Center (NCHC). “And his grandmother, who lived in Newnan as well, her last name was McRitchie, and she had been someone of influence for him that he and the people of the Historical Society wanted to honor.”

Hollis’ grandmother was even buried in Newnan’s Oak Hill Cemetery, which sits right across the street from UWG Newnan and the McRitchie-Hollis Museum.

“We conduct the annual cemetery tour,” said Scott. “We’ve been doing it for about eight years and it’s been very, very popular and I think the most we ever had was in 2021, when people had been in lock-down and were ready to get out and do things. I think we had over 500 people that year.”

The Peniston-Arnall-Thomasson Home was originally a furnishings museum, featuring furniture with no particular historical significance.

“People would go through and see the pretty house,” said Scott. “So after a while, the [NCHC] board said, ‘what we really need is a place to have our museum.’ And just be able to display, or rotate on display, the things from the collections building.”

The property is now transitioning into an exhibits museum with the purpose of teaching local history.

“Our new exhibits coming up will be focused on Newnan as a Civil War hospital town and the history of Newnan Hospital, which is where [UWG] is now,” said Scott. “Also it will focus on Dr. Jordan, who was the first African American doctor in the county. And in another room, we’ll have the R.D. Cole Manufacturing Company exhibit and the ‘Newnan as a mill town’ exhibit. After that, we’ll be doing exhibits on Native Americans and Chief Mcintosh.”

The Museum also hosts events, including “Newnan Burns Weekend” which annually honors Robert Burns, also known as the Bard of Scotland. Part of Newnan’s appreciation for Scotland also comes from their sister city in Scotland, Ayr.

“Burns Weekend” features different activities for the night, with the most recent one on Feb. 3rd including a whiskey tasting, and with every Scottish celebration, they also served a hearty amount of haggis.

NCHC, through the McRitchie-Hollis Museum and their other endeavors, hope to build a greater relationship with UWG. Thanks to the Newnan shuttle that travels to and from Carrollton, students living at the main campus have easy access to seeing the Museum. Moreover, Downtown Newnan offers other historical and recreational activities to explore.

“We also own and operate the Historic Train Depot, which is at 60 east broad street near downtown,” said Scott. “We use that as a learning center and as a rental space where people can get married and things like that.”

Whether it be a wedding in a train depot, or a day at the museum, it’s nice to appreciate the remnants of history.

For more information, visit the NCHC website: https://newnancowetahistoricalsociety.com/