1951 Menlo Champion Home Town Contest

In April 1951, the citizens of Menlo entered the Champion Home Town Contest sponsored by the Georgia Power Company. Towns entered in one of three divisions based on population: less than 750, 751 to 3,000, and 3,001 to 20,000. Menlo's was a late entry; the contest officially started on October 1, 1950.

In 1951, 282 towns entered the contest competing for $8,950 (about $81,000 in today's dollars) in prize money designated for civic improvements. Competing towns spent great effort in cleaning up and taking part in numerous improvement projects.



Businesses and houses were repainted and repaired.


New municipal signs were erected.

Yards were mowed including the lawn at Menlo Presbyterian Church.




People even improved the interiors of their houses.

Young and old, black and white, participated in improving the appearance of their homes.





From the Menlo City Hall scrapbook: Home of Mr. and Mrs. N.B. Daniel where tourists may secure accommodations on Main Street opposite school building.

Even the little Alpine community south of Menlo made improvements.

Cabins received new paint between the logs.

An inviting swing sits ready for a relaxing evening of after-supper conversation.

This gentleman is making good use of his Gilman paint.

fire truck
The new Menlo Fire Truck was proudly displayed. Residents donated $500 to purchase 1,250 feet of fire hose. In addition, seven fire extinguishers were installed along Seventh Avenue, Menlo's main street.

A view from the other side of the tracks.

The Tennessee-Alabama-Georgia engine rolls into Menlo.

boy scouts
The Boy Scouts helped renovate the softball diamond in the park.

From the Menlo City Hall scrapbook: The Recreation Committee with Z.B. Ham as chairman, is off to a good start. They have done quite a bit of work on the park including building a barbecue pit, tables, and installing a drinking fountain.

Trash was removed and lots cleaned of debris.

A barbecue pit was constructed using Lookout Mountain rock.



From a newspaper clipping:

Friday, July 6 was set aside as Community Work Day in Menlo. Citizens gathered for the purpose of cleaning up the town and leaders report that the attendance was fine.

They joined forces and cleaned off the city park, sowed grass, and gave it a general cleaning up.  The softball field was cleaned up so that it would be available for the sportsmen of the community, and many other odd jobs were taken care of on this day.

Menlo is going all out for being the champion home town this year in the contest now being sponsored by the Georgia Power Company, and many improvements have already been made.

moms and kids
Children and their mothers attended lectures in City Hall.





lets eat




When's the last time you saw a barefooted kid? Shoes were tossed aside during warm weather "back in the day." (Plus, you saved them for school.)


An announcement found in the Menlo City Hall scrapbook reads:

Are you doing your part toward winning the Champion Home Town Contest for Menlo and the surrounding community?

Does your home present an attractive lived-in appearance? Does your place of business present a clean, prosperous appearance? Are you the owner of the remaining "sore-eyes" of Menlo?

Are you planning to attend the final, regular meeting of the Menlo Improvement Association at the Gym, Monday, September 3rd at 8 PM?

If everyone will pitch in and work during those last 4 weeks we will win by a landslide.

Let's really get to work!


The contest has helped Menlo to bring out her very best 'present,' dig up her rich past, and has kindled a community spirit that will not soon be dampened.

In addition to the community improvements, the Menlo Development Association, headed by Bill Edwards, helped bring two new industries to Menlo in 1951: the Best Manufacturing Corporation and the Menlo Wood Product Company.

An article in the December 2, 1951 edition of the Rome News-Tribune, written by Helen (Toles) Buffington described a banquet held at the Menlo school gymnasium the previous Thursday in celebration of the town's second place finish in its division. Those attending included Bill Edwards, owner of the town's only drugstore, farmer Tom Baker, county legislator Paul Weems, State Senator Arch Farrar, Sheriff Reuben Lyons, James "Sloppy" Floyd, J.C. Cavin, Rob William King, O.L Cleckler, and the Rev. W. E. Purcell from Menlo Methodist Church, along with spouses and others. The article concluded by stating:

...Menlo is only at the beginning of its glory so say the determined residents and so predict the people who have seen what they can do.

All photographs courtesy of Menlo City Hall. Information taken from newspaper clippings found in Menlo's scrapbook. The clippings were most likely from the Summerville News, the Trion Facts, and the Rome News-Tr

Copyright 2014 Greg W. McCollum.  All rights reserved.