SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Georgia Historical Society is welcoming back visitors after reopening their research center on Wednesday.

The three-year-long renovation and expansion cost $5 million, but Todd Groce said it was well worth the price.

“The larger picture is that this is actually the culmination of a decade-long, $23 million, total transformation,” said Groce, the president and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society.  In 2011, they acquired the Jepson House, which became the administration building for the Georgia Historical Society. This led into the work that was done over the past three years on the research center.

The renovations included a new archival wing, along with updates to the historic Georgia Historical Society Reading Room and Abrahams Archival Annex.

Though it may look just like one of Savannah’s historic homes, the building built in 1876, where the newly renovated library resides, never was one.

“It was always a library for the Georgia Historical Society,” Groce said.

In 1970, an archives wing was added onto the building. From there, the research center only grew, and so did the need for a new wing. Now, the historical society has all it needs to hold the ever-expanding archives.

“What we have done, in essence, is almost double the storage capacity,” Groce explained.

The Georgia Historical Society’s Research Center is home to the oldest collection of Georgia history materials in the world.

“There are five million manuscripts, documents, rare books, artifacts, historic photographs and maps,” Groce said. “So it really represents the entire breadth of Georgia history.”

The research center has archives from times as far back as when James Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony that would become the state of Georgia, walked the Earth, to recent history, with papers belonging to Bernie Marcus, the founder of The Home Depot.  

This history is important not only to researchers but to the general public. Whether they’re looking for information regarding genealogical research or just curious about history, all are allowed to enter the research center.

For more information about the Georgia Historical Society, you can find their website here.