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An Old Landmark with a New Purpose

Sometimes, looking to the past can ensure a bright future. That’s the plan for the developers of the multitenant space, The 1904: The Original Braselton Mercantile, in the heart of downtown Braselton. 


In 1887, 10-year-old John Oliver Braselton opened a small country store—the dream of his young life. An unfortunate accident involving a horse and carriage destroyed the youngster’s first store which he quickly rebuilt with the help of other family members.  By 1891, as he moved into his 3rd store location, older brothers William Henry and Green joined him in business.  Their growing success meant that they soon needed even more space, so they built the iconic Braselton Bros. department store in 1904—hence, the naming of the new incarnation. A large, three-story addition was added on in 1910 and more additions were made in the 1950’s.

The stately brick building was the anchor of the Department Store until its closings in the late 1980’s, selling clothing and shoes, as well as dry goods, groceries, and gifts. It was the heart of the community, where people gathered, shared their news, and purchased their food and clothing.


In 2003, Hoschton native, Robbie Bettis brought life back to the space when she opened the Braselton Antique Mall.  The town was just beginning a downtown revitalization, and Bettis knew her business would benefit from the revitalization. She soon partnered with another downtown antique shop that had already started the well-known Braselton antique festivals. Their combined efforts brought in antique dealers and afficionados and put Braselton on Georgia’s antique map. Unfortunately, Bettis passed away in early 2020, which lead to the closing of her antique store.  


Just as the Braselton Antique Mall heralded a revitalization of the downtown back at the turn of the 21st century, the Braselton Urban Redevelopment Agency is looking to return the building to its mercantile past, with a mix of shops and vendors to act as an anchor to draw residents and visitors to the town. The 1904 will be a modern-day reflection of the old-time mercantile, with gift shops, offices, places to eat, and comfortable places to meet up in. 


Some of the existing restaurants in the previously renovated 1950’s add-on of the Braselton Brothers Store includes local favorites The Galloping Galette, which serves up traditional sweet French crepes as well as their namesake galettes—savory buckwheat pancakes filled with ham, cheese, eggs, and other meal-worthy ingredients. The galette hails from Brittany, in northwest France, the homeland of restaurant co-owner, Viviane Fonfrede. Cotton Calf Kitchen, a 120-seat steakhouse, is also located in the opposite end of the building from The 1904. It features fresh seafood and dry-aged steaks. Whether you’re in the mood for a ribeye, a porterhouse for two, or lamb loin chops, don’t forget to save room for a slice of their Key lime pie.


One new tenant is Sugar n’ Proof, a bakery that offers delectable treats such as made-from-scratch bread, pastries, and cakes. Baker Rena Obeidat focuses on seasonal and local ingredients to make her offerings. Whether customers are looking for something traditional—like chocolate-chunk, white chocolate cranberry, or oatmeal raisin cookies—or something more exotic, like gáteau Basque—a tradition French pastry with a buttery, flaky almond crust with pistachio pastry cream and raspberry jam filling—they’ll find it here.

The Braselton Summer Farmer’s Market takes place every Friday in June and July on the patio behind The 1904. Free parking can be found across the street in the parking deck. Shop local, for produce, baked goods, and artisan crafts, get some food, and enjoy the downtown scene. Check out the market’s Facebook page for scheduled vendors.


Opening in the summer of 2021, The 1904 looks to create a community gathering spot in downtown Braselton, where residents and visitors alike can enjoy the warmth and hospitality of this northern Georgia town.

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