Matt Janke dreamed of landing the perfect glass-blowing job. After moving to Atlanta in 1986, he realized there wasn't a single glass studio in town, granting his art a ready-made niche. After settling in, he returned to grad school, earning an MFA in glass with the intent to launch his own university program and ultimately procure his own space. By the time he graduated in 1992, Matt further honed his skills, stockpiled equipment, and, in 1996, opened his own studio and hired himself.
Beyond the perks of being his own boss, having his own studio affords Matt a great deal of creative freedom. He infuses all his handblown light fixtures, tumblers, and vases with the prismatic swirls of his signature style, in which precise lines and natural variations vie for attention across undulating surfaces. A downtown gallery space facilitates sales of these works.
But the studio has also fulfilled more than Matt's original goal of finding glass-blowing employment, going on to catalyze a glass-blowing community. From single apprentices in the early days, the studio is now a full-fledged classroom, with space for five instructors, a dozen students, and the kilns that must melt their glass until they each finish their training by capturing and taming a fire-breathing dragon.
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The National Civil War Naval Museum takes modern-day visitors through the little-traveled footsteps of the sailors who fought in the Civil War, telling the story of the country's deadliest war from a naval point of view. Exhibits detail the technology and commerce that soldiers encountered, and provide a human backdrop with stories about soldiers and slaves affected by Civil War navies. Guided tours feature uniformed sailors who interpret the history of everyday life aboard a Civil War vessel or tell the story of a ship that served in the war. For a spookier outing, nighttime tours explore paranormal anomalies and analyze evidence from ghost investigations that happened in the museum.
In 1820, an upwardly mobile carpenter named Isaiah Davenport designed a 6,800-square-foot Federal-style home to live in with his wife, children, and slaves. After his death, Davenport’s wife turned the stately brick house into a boarding house, though it later devolved into a run-down tenement—until the Historic Savannah Foundation saved the landmark when it was threatened with demolition in 1955. The organization’s award-winning preservation, their very first effort, jumpstarted an organized preservation movement that spread across the entire port city.
Today, the Davenport House Museum’s rooms are filled with antique furniture from the 1820s, acquired after careful research relying on estate inventories and detailed artist renderings of long-ago games of musical chairs. These period-accurate tables and chairs join ceramics, textiles, and books to form the museum’s collection of about 500 historical items. Behind the home, where a carriage house, garden, and privy once stood, a garden designed by renowned landscape artist Penelope Hobhouse flourishes. After walking among its flowers, visitors can drop by the museum shop to pick up jams and jellies, books about Savannah, and reproductions of early 19th-century items.
Though The Odyssey has earned acclaim for documenting history’s most iconic journey, Mary Charles Howard has won over her customers by focusing on a more commonplace one—food’s journey from the farm to the table. As the owner of Athens Food Tours, an establishment named the best in Athens by Tripadvisor, she and her team guide gourmands to local eateries such as The Grit, Agua Linda, Kelly’s Jamaican, and Copper Street Brew Pub. Their walking tours send peripatetic palates through specific neighborhoods, such as Prince Avenue, the downtown area, or Normaltown, named for its distinction of being the only area to have successfully banned talking dogs. On each tour, guests mingle with chefs and sample their concoctions, but guides also incorporate factoids on non-culinary topics such as history, local music, and architecture.
The third annual Antebellum Trail Pilgrimage offers patrons the chance to unearth the past with myriad events and activities scattered throughout seven historic communities: Athens, Watkinsville, Madison, Eatonton, Milledgeville, Old Clinton, and Macon. The 100-mile trail zigzags pilgrims from city to city, offering self-guided excursions ideal for self-directed murmurs of informational tidbits. The events, museum visits, private tours of historic homes, and other activities featured in the five-day pilgrimage itinerary give visitors a glimpse of historic Georgia. Pass-holders also have access to authentic battle sites, where they can trace the steps of soldiers and reenact bayonet-limbo contests. Most locations are open, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Many of Roswell, Georgia's oldest residents refuse to leave. Their spirits still wander the halls of antebellum mansions and take really long lunch breaks in abandoned mills. Even the town's founder, Roswell King, can't keep still in his grave at Founders' Cemetery. Those are just some of the tales that make groups shiver during walks with Roswell Ghost Tour's paranormal investigators.
These guides take the world of the paranormal seriously, focusing on tales that came from local residents, business owners, and even past tour attendees. Their expertise has even been tapped by media outlets including the Syfy channel, which featured investigators Joe and Dianna Avena on an episode of Ghost Hunters. The lack of goofy costumes or accents doesn't mean that they won't incorporate an element of fun, though. In fact, some tours even stop for cocktails at a local bar.
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