And Along Came Annie

In the early days of Lakemont Georgia the general store known as ‘Alley’s Grocery’ was the hub of activity for the little community which had grown up around Lake Rabun and the Tallulah Railroad.  Located just across the road from the railroad depot it was the place where people congregated while waiting for the train.  It served as the post office, as well as the message and communications center for the area and supplied the locals and summer visitors with groceries, hardware, ice and bait.
It continued to do so even after the demise of the railroad and long after the depot became a thing of the past.  Continuously owned and operated by the Alley family until the winter of 2008 the store has remained a landmark in Rabun county and many local residents and visitors alike have stories to share about their visits there.

In 2008 the store had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of being closed due to the declining health of the 2nd generation owner, Lamar Alley.  Enter Annie Westermann.  Annie had already restored 3 other historical structures in the small town and surrounding area so Alley’s Grocery was the 4th project for the historical preservationist/landscape designer.  In this writer’s opinion it may have been her most important project so far because it now continues to be what it has always been…the hub of a small mountain community.  After doing extensive renovations to the building Annie reopened the store in March of 2009. Today, Alley’s Grocery is still in operation, now known as Annie’s At Alley’s Market & Deli it continues to serve the community it has been a part for 87 years, not only as a market and deli, but also as a meeting place for area residents and visitors.  While other mom & pop stores across the country have lost the battle to survive in this modern world, this little piece of American history still thrives here in the NE Georgia Mountains.  As someone who has truly fallen in love with this place and it’s people I hope to play a part in keeping it that way.

If any of you reading this post have stories to tell about the old Alley’s Grocery please contact me (Tanya) at anniesatalleys@gmail.com  I would be interested in hearing your story and possibly telling it here on the blog.  Eventually I hope to collect enough stories to put together a small book about the history of the store and the village of Lakemont.  Or, if you are in the area stop by and share your story personally.  Whether you have a story or not we invite you to stop by whenever you are in the area and sit a spell.

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