February 10, 2015 Buford: Gwinnett firefighters work at the scene of an old tannery building in Buford Tuesday February 10, 2015. BEN GRAY / BGRAY@AJC.COM
Photo: Ben Gray
Photo: Ben Gray

Flashback photos: Buford was once home to the country's most prolific tannery

More than a year ago, a Gwinnett County landmark burned to the ground.

Buford's Bona Allen Tannery was long-defunct, but it represented an important piece of history -- founded in 1873, it grew to be the nation's largest producer of hand-tooled saddles, bridles and other leather goods. It even supplied Hollywood bigwigs like Roy Rogers, his horse Trigger and the cast of "Bonanza." 

Part of the old tannery still survives -- and has been repurposed as the Tannery Row Artist Colony -- but the rest is left to history books. And photos like those below. 

This postcard dated 1933 advertises "The Largest Shoe in the World on Wheels," a size 300 made by Buford's Bona Allen, Inc. (Credit: Gwinnett Historical Society)

This postcard dated 1936 shows the Bona Allen Tannery in Buford. (Credit: Gwinnett Historical Society)

Art Ash, left, and Roe Sears Jr., making English saddles at the Bona Alley leather factory in Buford in 1938. (Family photo)

Brothers Bona Jr., Victor and John headed Bona Allen Inc. leather products industry in Buford during its height in the 1920s and 1930s. Because of the company's relative prosperity during the Great Depression, a national publication referred to Buford as the "depression-proof town." (File/Special to the AJC)

The home of Bona Allen, as shown in a postcard dated 1908. (Credit: Gwinnett Historical Society)

An antique Bona Allen sign, photographed in 1999 at Sandy Sumner's gallery/museum/frame shop in downtown Buford. (Staff file photo)

Other historic Buford businesses, shown in 1908. (Credit: Gwinnett Historical Society)

The old Bona Allen Tanners & Manufacturers building, as shot October 16, 2003. (Staff file photo)

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