The Remembrance Garden to be dedicated in two weeks in honor of those killed in the 1957 Villa Rica natural gas explosion is the work of a lot of people, including a young Eagle Scout candidate.
The garden is to be dedicated in memory of the 12 people killed on Dec. 5, 1957, when a natural gas leak underneath a block of buildings on Montgomery Street sparked a massive explosion that leveled the buildings. Some 24 other people were injured in the blast.
On Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the exact hour and on the 60th anniversary of the explosion, Villa Rica officials will hold a ribbon-cutting at the garden, located in Hillcrest Cemetery.
The garden is located in the back of the cemetery, near the mausoleum in which rests the body of Robert “Bobby” Roberts, the youngest victim of the explosion. The garden was originally an unused plot owned by Roberts’ family but has been transformed into a landscaped garden, thanks to the work of the family and the Villa Rica Cemetery Commission.
But much of the labor was done by members of Boy Scout Troop 1828 of the Indian Springs District of the Atlanta Area Council, and especially by Scout David Worsham, who planned the work as an Eagle Scout project.
Worsham’s project included reconstruction of an antique block wall, cleaning of the grounds, preparing the planting area of the garden and providing a memorial bench. Plantings were provided in part by Jodi Mount of the Cemetery Commission, and by Villa Rica City Clerk Alisa Doyal.
The project was completed without the use of city funds and relied upon contributions of supplies, equipment and manpower, including Worsham’s fellow Scouts, West Georgia Equipment and Party Rentals and Jacky’s Landscape Materials.
On Dec. 5, 1957, the explosion leveled four buildings at the corner of Montgomery and Candler streets, including the two-story Berry Pharmacy. The blast, due to a natural gas leak, killed 12 people and injured some two dozen others from the resulting fire, or from debris when the buildings collapsed.
“Bobby” Roberts, 13, was among those killed. He had been in a dentist office on the second floor of the Pharmacy building.
The explosion is considered the worst man-made disaster in Carroll County’s history.
Villa Rica officials have designated Dec. 5 as a Day of Remembrance for the 60th anniversary of the disaster.
Although that day’s commemoration will be a lower-key affair than the 50th anniversary observance in 2007, the dedication of the garden will be attended by many who either assisted the city-wide rescue effort, or are surviving members of those killed.