From the attic to the library, lost Carter portrait found

Photo Credit: Georgia Southwestern

Earlier this year, the James Earl Carter Library of Georgia Southwestern State University received a new lobby and a special gift.

The James Earl Carter Library has been an integral part of Georgia Southwestern campus since it was completed in summer of 1971, and it has recently undergone some renovations. The work began in May of this year and will be completed very soon. The lobby size has increased, while new tiles, lights, bulletin boards, and a book drop box have been added. The new doors are the most noticeable improvement.

"The doors are designed to open automatically as someone approaches both the exit and entrance," said Ru Story-Huffman, dean of library services. "They provide much easier access to the building and the increased lobby area will be an additional spot for students to sit and interact with each other."

In addition to the improvement to the lobby, other renovations have been made. The library's loveseats and benches have been reupholstered. To accommodate the growing number of students, the library has also installed more computers and printers.

To top off the improvements to the library, a portrait of the library's name sake, James Earl Carter, Sr., has been donated by his granddaughter, Kim Fuller, and now hangs in the lobby. The library was dedicated to Carter on June 7, 1973. Carter was a Sumter County farmer, business man, and civil leader, as well as a representative of the General Assembly of Georgia. Carter also served on the Sumter County Board of Education. His son, Jimmy Carter, attended Georgia Southwestern in 1942 and became the 76th governor of Georgia and the 39th president of the United States.

"The nicest thing in the lobby is the portrait, as it provides a tribute to Mr. Carter," said Story-Huffman.

The portrait was painted by local artist Virginia "Ginny" Hodges in the 1970s for the Carter family. It was modeled after Carter's official Georgia House portrait and for many years hung in Carter's childhood home. In recent years, however, the portrait has passed many hands and was found in a local attic. When it was discovered, the portrait was given to Fuller who felt the need to donate it to the library.

"I thought that others should share in the portrait, so I donated it. I think it's found its placeâ| it needs to be here. He'd be happy," Fuller added, speaking of her grandfather.

The James Earl Carter Library host several exhibitions to honor the Carter family. The Lillian Gordy Carter Picture Gallery is on display on the first floor, while a visual timeline of Jimmy Carter can be found upstairs.