When people think of Lost Mountain, they may think about the mountain itself. Others may think about the old Lost Mountain store. The old store sits on its original site at the foot of Lost Mountain, much of which has has been lost to development oer the years. Located on the Dallas Highway (Highway 176) and the intersection of Lost Mountain Road and Mars Hill Road (Highway 120). It is now the home of United Community Bank.
In 1864, the Lost Mountain community and surrounding areas were the sites for both the Union and Confederate positions. Some areas of the community saw skirmishes and battles from Dallas to Kennesaw to Marietta as the armies moved on to Atlanta.
Up until the mid-1800’s the land along the Dallas Highway in Lost Mountain was undeveloped land. The few residences of the area were mostly farmers and/or dairymen. The area was previously home to the Cherokee and Creek Indians.
Judge Aaron Lafayette Bartlett had the vision of developing this land into much more than just farm land and pastures. He earned enough money plowing field s to purchase two hundred acres of this property and a house for the sum of $2.95. The, using bricks he made himself and mortar made from lime and sand, Bartlett completed the Lost Mountain Store in 1881 and opened it for business. As he was helped a great deal by his brother-in-law John Coleman Watson, the store was called The Watson and Bartlett Store. Watson ran the store on a daily basis.
People came from miles around by horse and buggy to trade at the store by selling goods for staples. The store was said to be “of service for life” carrying everything a person would need from baby needs to burial supplies!
In 1884, John Coleman Watson was given the title ‘Postmaster General’ for the Lost Mountain district. Mail was to be delivered to the store once a week.
About nine years later, Mr. Watson chose to seek opportunities in Dallas. In 1893, Josiah “Joe” Wilson Arnold, a family friend of Judge Bartlett, became the second manager of the Lost Mountain Store.
Joe and his wife Mintorah and their children worked the fields and ran the store for several years. During which time, the store expanded its inventory to include plows, other farm equipment, fabric, and household goods.
As the Lost Mountain district grew, the store became the meeting place for the community, hosting town meetings and elections. Then in 1922, after the sudden death of his wife, Joe left the mountain and the store.
In 1923, Levi Sanford of Paulding County, a close friend of the Bartletts, became the next resident manager of the Lost Mountain Store. Two years later, Levi’s 18-year-old son, Newt, was named operating manager of the store. There was much change during Newt’s time as the store’s owner: from the Great Depression, automobiles, through wars to the birth and growth of super markets and shopping malls.
In 1992, after nearly 70 years at the helm of the Lost Mountain Store, Newt Sanford ‘took sick’ and retired to Cave Spring, GA.
Some 111 years after opening for business, the Lost Mountain Store closed its doors. The building then remained empty for some time, used only as a backdrop for photos, inspiration for paintings and source for memories of years gone by.
In 1995 Independent Bank and Trust Company, now United Community Bank, began exploring sites for its first bank branch. The bank purchased the Lost Mountain Store and began to carefully restore the building to its original glory. In 1996, the building re-opened as a full service bank.
The interior paint color, windows, doors, and pine tongue-and-groove floor were restored to match the original building. A single 2′ by 6′ board removed from the original store counter now serves as a conference room table. Replicas of the original gas pumps that supplied many cars with fuel stand near the porch as they did long ago.
An addition to the rear of the store housed the bank’s secured items and provides space for the equipment and utilities required in a modern banking facility.
Since 1881, the Lost Mountain Store has been a center of commerce and customer service, as well as part of the landscape.
For most of the building’s history as a mercantile center, customers could find anything they needed within the store’s walls.
Source: Information on the actual history of the Lost Mountain store is in a promotional brochure published by the United Community Bank taken from “Historic Lost Mountain Store – Traditional Values; New Ideas” by Carol Christian Wallace.
There is also a more detailed history of the Lost Mountain Store on file at the Seven Springs Museum.