Meet the 19-Year-Old Collector Behind Cedartown, Georgia’s New Coca-Cola Memorabilia Museum
By: Hannah Nemer | Jun 24, 2016
Once a thriving Coca-Cola bottling plant, 209 Main Street in Cedartown, Ga. had seen better days.
Decades ago, locals would peer into the front windows to watch bottles pass by on a conveyor belt, chat with their local bottler and buy an ice-cold Coke directly off the production line. The building was sold in the 1970s and briefly housed a lumber company before becoming vacant. The site was in such disrepair that the city considered condemning it. After narrowly escaping a bulldozed fate, the building reopens its doors this weekend for the first time in almost 40 years with a nod to its storied past.
The newly renovated building is now home to the Cedartown Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia.
An Old Soul
Though he was not yet alive when the bottling plant was a Main Street staple, 19 year-old Daniel Morris spearheaded the effort to reopen its doors. A lover of history, he appreciated Cedartown’s past, which the building and Coca-Cola had helped to shape.
Morris began collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia when he was in the eighth grade, with a particular interest in advertising collectibles. He saw timeless value — and timeless stories — in vintage Coca-Cola signage and artifacts. His frequent trips to Coca-Cola collector shows and antique dealers have taken him as far west as Arizona, and as far north as Indiana. His unparalleled, ever-expanding Coca-Cola collection eventually grew so large that it needed a building of its own.
More than a storage unit, the building is central to the stories of Morris’ collection. By restocking the space with Coca-Cola memorabilia, he is helping to reactive it with memories of Coca-Cola’s presence in Cedartown — about 60 miles east of the company’s Atlanta headquarters — while providing visitors a case study in American history.
“People in small towns all across America remember seeing their local Coke bottler in the front window,” Morris said during a preview event at the museum. “Every town that had a bottler, their bottling company was set up the same way. The public was very much involved.”
The memorabilia speaks to far more than Coca-Cola’s products; it provides context for the daily lives and values of its consumers and fans. Coca-Cola advertisements and bottlers reflected the social climate of their time.
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