Visit the small town that manufactured suits for President Jimmy Carter.
Bowdon’s apparel industry began during the Depression years, after brothers Robert, Roy, and Warren Sewell moved their small clothing business from Atlanta to Bremen in 1928. In 1934, the Sewell Manufacturing Company built the first apparel plant in Bowdon.
After World War II, when Warren Sewell split from Sewell Manufacturing to establish the Warren Sewell Clothing Company, he acquired the Bowdon plant and opened the manufacturing arm of his company, the Bremen-Bowdon Investment Company (BBIC). Warren Sewell’s success greatly expanded apparel manufacturing in Bowdon. While not a traditional “company town,” the apparel industry dominated the community through the second half of the twentieth century until its peak in the 1980s.
The Sewell family controlled the west Georgia region’s apparel industry through the 1990s with their many business expansions, partnerships, and new companies. Warren Sewell’s son-in-law and daughter, Lamar and Frances Sewell Plunkett, founded LaMar Manufacturing Company in Bowdon around 1955. This company made suits for President Jimmy Carter for twenty years, from his time on the Georgia senate through his presidency in the 1970s. Each presidential suit was made with care and lined with fabric embellished with Carter’s initials.
The apparel industry is still active in Bowdon. In 2008, BBIC and the Warren Sewell Clothing Company split. Although many of BBIC’s original buildings are now gone, the company maintains manufacturing operations on the original site, producing garments for the U.S. military. Today, you can visit the Bowdon Area Historical Society to view a blazer worn by Carter and original apparel company photographs and documents, as well as visit many of LaMar Manufacturing’s original buildings that are now home to locally owned businesses in Bowdon Station.
In March of 2018, graduate student Chanell Lowery created a walking tour of the textile apparel industry of Bowdon for her thesis project. The following link details the Walking Tour:
Member Organizations on the Trail:
What can you do?
- Bowdon Area Historical Society — Located behind Bowdon High School, the Bowdon Area Historical Society is home to the Heritage Walk, Whatley Memorial Park, and Shelnutt House Museum. Plus, visit the visit the Bowdon Area Historical Society to view clothing worn by President Carter!
- Bowdon Station — The original LaMar buildings are now used as stores along Commerce St. and City Hall Ave. in downtown Bowdon.
- Copeland Hall — Bowdon’s Cultural Arts Center, located at 103 Barr Avenue Bowdon, GA 30108.
- Warren Sewell Memorial Library — 450 West Avenue Bowdon, GA 30108.
What can you see?
The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.
- Bremen-Bowdon Investment Co. — This historic company is still in operation at 141 Commerce St., Bowdon, GA 30108.
- Ava Sewell Hall — The old Bowdon High School gym was built entirely with local donations and labor in 1955 and dedicated to Ava Sewell. It can be seen on the left off College View, and is still used for community events.
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