Fannin Tobacco and Candy Company
Visitors strolling down the charming main street of downtown Blue Ridge will encounter a red brick building that would have been far more at home in the 1930's or 1940's. Most of the buildings in downtown Blue Ridge are equally as old and equally as quaint. What makes this particular building so unique are the Red Man tobacco murals plastered on either side of the building and the King Edward Cigar sign just under the name of the company that still operates a business here: Fannin Tob. & Candy Co.
The building, and the business itself, seem to have stepped out of a dog-eared sepia-toned photograph, the kind you would have found stuffed in an old trunk up in Granny Black Stock's attic.
A sign on the front door reads "This is not an antique shop. It is a wholesale business." That business, born 37 years ago, is still run by one of the founding partners, Hugh McClure, who along with Bruce Tipton, bought the building in 1971.
By then, the red brick building was already 71 years old--having been built in 1900--and had a colorful history.
After spending its earliest years housing a hardware store, a much-revered figure in Blue Ridge lore, Granny Black Stock, took over the building in the late 1920's. She turned the downstairs into a restaurant and the upstairs into a boarding house. She and her sister lived in a small apartment in the back of the building behind the restaurant.
Cots in the three guest rooms upstairs rented for 50 cents a night and, during the 1930's, were often filled by exhausted CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) workers. The CCC was created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to help combat unemployment born of the Great Depression. Workers came to Blue Ridge to help plant trees in the Chattahoochee National Forest-an area that had been decimated by over-logging. WPA (Works Progress Administration-another New Deal government agency) workers were also in town, working on Fannin County's new courthouse.
Local legend has it that exhausted workers were not the only one's who filled the cots upstairs. Granny Black Stock, being the entrepreneur that she was, was already meeting the men's needs for food and shelter. She was rumored to have also overseen a business that would meet another of the workers' needs--and we are not talking about clothing.
Between the time of Granny Black Stock's colorful stay in the building and 1971, the building housed a dry goods store, a laundr-o-mat, and a beauty salon.
For the past 37 years, Fannin Tobacco & Candy Co. has been operating as a wholesale business, distributing-- yes--tobacco and candy. After a long and profitable career, Hugh McClure is ready to close the business and sell the building.
No doubt, the building's next owner will fill it with a business more suited to the tourist trade. Hopefully, the new proprietor will appreciate what makes this building so unique, and will leave the building's colorful exterior at least partially intact.
This one-of-a-kind property is currently listed with Century 21 Professional Realty Group for $650,000.
(Research done for this story included an article written by Dr. Kathleen Thompson that ran in North Georgia Living Magazine)