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"Linnentown Then and Now" Spotlights Neighborhood's Past at Lyndon House Arts Center

An evocative art exhibition is set to open at the Lyndon House Arts Center exploring the impact of urban renewal on the Athens neighborhood, Linnentown.

Caroline Ford Coleman, a local artist and educator, will be presenting "Linnentown Then and Now," a collection of portraits depicting members of a community that was uprooted in the 1960s for the University of Georgia's expansion.

The exhibition runs from March 30 to May 10, according to a press release from the Athens-Clarke County government.

Inspired to begin the project from her mother Geneva Johnson, and Joey Carter's research and advocacy, the paintings are based on photographs and site visits, and place faces of the Linnentown residents within the context of their former neighborhood.

The urban renewal funds, although intended for development, resulted in displacing many Black families, as remembered through Coleman's work.

An artist reception is slated for April 9, where the public can meet Coleman from 6 - 8 p.m.

“My grandparents Davis Johnson Sr. and Carrie Lou Faust Johnson lived in Linnentown at 123 Lyndon Row, Athens, GA, for which they were paid $2950 in 1964 by the City of Athens under the guise of Urban Renewal," Coleman stated in an announcement, elegantly capturing the historic trauma experienced by her family.

Her grandmother's seventh child, Geneva Johnson, now owns the house in East Broad Street, the very one her grandfather moved to after their displacement from Linnentown.

Following extensive advocacy, there has been a recent surge in public concern and a formal apology from Athens-Clarke County for their role in the destruction of Linnentown.

The exhibition paints not only the injustice faced by Coleman's family but the collective memory of those who once called Linnentown home.

Admission to "Linnentown Then and Now" is free. The exhibit is available to the public during regular gallery hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Children, who must be accompanied by an adult, will have the opportunity to engage with a piece of local history. For additional information, contact the Lyndon House Arts Center at 706 613 3623 or visit their website at

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