With so many out-of-town guests visiting Augusta for events at the Augusta National Golf Club, this is the perfect time to highlight fascinating places to visit in the Garden City. Each venue has free parking, a small entry fee and can be viewed within an hour or two.
At the top of the list is the Augusta Museum of History. Located downtown, this award-winning museum is a joy to visit. It is open every day this week, including Sundays. The most popular exhibits each have features that cannot be seen in any other museum. They are: “The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown;” “Celebrating a Grand Tradition: The Sport of Golf;” “Augusta Story;” and “One Man, Two Ships: Lessons in History and Courage.”
AT THIS FOURTH exhibit you will view a side-by-side display of the Carnegie Medal and the Medal of Honor. A local hero, Jimmie Dyess, earned the highest award for civilian heroism, the Carnegie Medal, at age 19. Sixteen years later, Lt. Col. Dyess, of the U.S. Marine Corps, earned the Medal of Honor posthumously in combat in the Pacific Theater.
After visiting the Augusta Museum of History, a short walk will take you to the Morris Museum of Art. Open every day this week except for Easter Sunday, it is on the corner of Reynolds and 10th streets. On your walk, be sure to view Heroes Overlook. In a scenic setting overlooking the Savannah River, local heroes who are the recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross or the Medal of Honor are recognized.
The next venue of interest is Woodrow Wilson’s Boyhood Home. At the corner of Seventh and Telfair streets, this historic building has been totally restored. Starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, tours take place every hour on the hour and run about 45 minutes. Young “Tommy” Wilson spent most of his youth in this home.
Also recommended is the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, at 1116 Phillips St., right off of Laney-Walker Boulevard.
FOR THOSE WHO are a bit adventurous, the boat tour up and down the historic Augusta Canal is well worthwhile. You will sail on a “Petersburg boat,” and a guide will share with you lots of local history. Located at Enterprise Mill, you can find it by driving from downtown out Greene Street. Be sure to turn left just before you reach 15th Street. Also, drop by the canal’s Interpretive Center before taking the boat tour.
Here are some specific suggestions. First, go to the corner of Reynolds and Sixth streets in downtown Augusta – there is free parking in the Augusta Museum of History’s parking lot.
As you enter the museum – large green signs will help you find the right building; the museum is celebrating its 75th anniversary – stop by the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Visitor Information Center. Pick up a brochure that highlights all the local attractions, restaurants and more.
Next, as you view the rotunda of the museum, have your camera handy. You can take pictures of the statues of five famous golfers, each in a classic pose. A friend can take a picture of you standing next to sculptures of Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan or Byron Nelson.
After touring the museum – and be sure to check out the exhibits on the second floor – leave on the side opposite the parking lot. Walk across Reynolds Street. You will pass historic St. Paul’s Church on your left. Of the 800 churches in the Augusta/Aiken area, St. Paul’s is the oldest.
After walking up the ramp to the Riverwalk, take a left and walk to Heroes Overlook. Turn around and walk through the opening in the levee. On your right you will find the Morris Museum. Don’t miss “Fore! Images of Golf in Art.” It includes more than 35 works by such well-known artists as LeRoy Neiman, Ray Ellis, and Linda Hartough,
Then you can walk back to your car – only four blocks – and then it is off to the other venues.
THOSE OF YOU who are having house guests this week, please encourage them to visit these spots. When they return home, they can let the world know what a special place Augusta is – much more besides golf for all to enjoy.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give me a call – (706)399-9754. I will be home all week.
(The writer – a retired U.S. Air Force major general, serves on the boards of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, the Augusta Warrior Project and the Augusta Museum of History.)