ALBANY — Businessman Billups “Bo” Johnson’s long-in-the-works dream of memorializing the family home — and legacy — of former Georgia Gov. George Busbee is slightly more than a month away from becoming reality.
On May 19, the modest 1205 W. Third Ave. dwelling that was the site of the strategy sessions that propelled Busbee to the governor’s mansion in 1974 will be memorialized with a permanent historic marker that will be placed in the structure’s front yard.
“Yes, this has been a long time coming,” Johnson said of his efforts to preserve an important element of the state’s and Albany’s history. “It’s always amazed me at the number of people who were born and raised here who are not aware of the fact that George Busbee — the first man to serve consecutive terms as Georgia’s governor — lived with his family here in our city.
“That’s a part of our history that I’d like to see preserved.”
Johnson, the owner of Artesian Financial Group, bought the Busbee home in 2013 and found boxes of memorabilia from the Busbee gubernatorial campaign inside. That spurred his interest in having a marker placed at the residence. He secured the assistance of Thronateeska Heritage Center Director Tommy Gregors, of Albany-Dougherty Planning Services Director Paul Forgey and others in the community who helped him wade through the bureaucratic jumble needed for state-sanctioned recognition.
“I’ve actually rented the structure to a local business, and the owner plans to move in April 25,” Johnson said of the Busbee home. “The marker program is scheduled in May, but I thought I’d open the house to interested persons before the new business moves in. I’m planning an open house Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m.
“I’ll put together a slide show and allow anyone who wants to to tour the house. There will be old Busbee family photographs and information about the historical marker project.”
Visitors will also find information about how they can make a donation that will go toward permanent upkeep of the marker.
Former Georgia Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, who had close family and political ties with Busbee, will offer a keynote address during the May 19 marker unveiling, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Johnson, Albany-Dougherty Historic Preservation Commission member Mack Wakeford, Elyse Butler of the Georgia Historical Society, and Busbee’s son, George “Buz” Busbee Jr., will take part in the ceremony.
The public is invited to attend the Open House Tuesday and the historic marker ceremony free of charge.