In 1945, Theodore Dinsmore and his wife, Imogene, purchased a homestead near the Crabapple junction in what is now the city of Milton. The property included a home, a barn and other outbuildings, and was a convenient walk to Dinsmore’s general store, housed in a two-story brick building that still stands today in downtown Crabapple.
Bob Meyers, author of “Barns of Old Milton County,” says Dinsmore’s store was “appreciated for its upstairs auditorium and stage where square dances and school plays were held. Participants and spectators sat on 500-pound cotton bales placed around the perimeter of the room.”
Though Theodore and Imogene are no longer with us, the Dinsmore family tradition of community hospitality continues. The site of their former homestead will soon house the new Milton Library.
Soon after Fulton County announced the site of their newest library, a group of dedicated volunteers, the Friends of the Milton Library, began working with county officials to preserve as much as they could of the historic Dinsmore homestead. They lobbied to save large trees on the property and gained permission to deconstruct the barns and salvage wood.
“Our Friends group decided early on that our goal was to try and retain some of Milton’s history on the site,” said local attorney Kimberly Gauger, whose Crabapple office serves as a meeting place for the 12-member board. The board includes three Milton City Councilmembers and enthusiastic local residents such as Meyers.
Gauger and her fellow Friends personally deconstructed Dinsmore’s old barns one weekend, investing hours of sweat equity into their cherished project.
“We discovered that those old nails are extremely difficult to remove,” Gauger said with a laugh.
The old boards were carefully removed and put in storage, ready to be stripped and re-painted for use on a new Friends barn, which will house community meeting space, special events, author visits, artwork by local artists and a continuous Friends book sale that on pretty days will spill out into the yard.
In addition to the reconstructed barn, specially commissioned artwork will add to the new library’s charm. George Nock, a retired NFL football player who creates beautiful bronze statues in his local studio, will create a piece for the library’s front patio depicting children feeding an apple to a pony. A second bronze piece entitled “Door of Knowledge” will replicate the old farmhouse door from the Dinsmores’ home.
“We really tried hard in every decision to keep Milton’s unique character in mind,” Gauger said, “and Fulton County Commissioners Bob Ellis and Liz Hausmann have been so receptive and willing to help us do special things to make the Milton Library unlike any other in the county.”
The Friends hope to take advantage of the library’s walking-distance proximity to three schools, Crabapple Crossing Elementary, Northwestern Middle and Milton High.
“With any luck, once the sidewalks and the new roundabout are installed, the kids will use the library after school for study groups, working on projects or as a gathering place,” said Gauger. “We chose dark blue as the color for our Friends T-shirts and promotional items because both Milton and Cambridge High use dark blue in their school colors.”
Fundraising efforts by the Friends of the Milton Library will support community programs for all ages, the purchase of more books, computers and library materials and development of the library as a community center.
Families or businesses who contribute to the Friends’ “Giving Tree” will receive a “leaf” on a large plaque in the library as a sign of support.
The Friends’ Facebook page shares more details on how local residents can make donations and participate in book sales.
Construction has moved at a steady pace and the current hope is for the Milton Library to open at some point this summer. Gauger said there will be big announcements about the grand opening, which will be a fun community event.
Descendants of Theodore and Imogene Dinsmore were present at the library’s ground-breaking ceremony and Gauger hopes they will return for the grand opening.
The Dinsmore property gives the library a prime setting right in the midst of what will soon be the hub of Milton. And thanks to the efforts of the Friends of the Milton Library, the space will reflect the best of Milton’s rural charm.
“It will be a nice, bright, cheery place with a porch and rocking chairs where a mom with a stroller can sit and read a book,” said Gauger.
Just as in Theodore Dinsmore’s day, this community seems to appreciate a gathering place. ■