Blanchard and Calhoun’s 100-year history is a big part of Augusta’s story
Photos provided by Wier Stewart
What a storied history it has been.
Just ask the Blanchard and Calhoun Real Estate business family.
They’ll tell you that sharing that story is not as easy as you think, especially if it has spanned 100 years.
But the multigeneration, locally owned and operated family real estate, insurance and mortgage business has done just that.
For the past year, the business has used a unique marketing campaign, “100 Years, 100 Stories,” to celebrate the family’s and the businesses’ centennial milestone, one story at a time.
It’s a celebration that has been shared with the community whose history the Blanchard and Calhoun business has played a vital part in since its founding.
“It’s been really fun. We’ve all learned a lot, especially from the early years, when none of us were alive,” said Carey Daniel, marketing consultant for Blanchard and Calhoun and daughter of Tommy Blanchard Jr., the third president of Blanchard and Calhoun. “A lot of that has been extremely interesting and neat to learn and share.”
It’s not every day that a family is willing to share so much of its own personal history, especially one that happens to be tied to a business that is known as one of the oldest real estate groups in the area.
One can almost imagine the large Blanchard family seated around a kitchen table thumbing through old photographs, laughing at the good times and being thankful for overcoming the bad ones.
Woven through all the memories, the notion of family itself is a continuous thread.
“We have a lot of families that work with us,” Carey said. “We’ve highlighted a lot of them in these 100 stories. We try to keep a real family culture, and we are proud that we’ve got lots of families that work with us.”
The stories being shared with the community are short, concise snippets, sometimes a quick video, of memories that make up the proud Blanchard and Calhoun family and business history. It’s a campaign that runs much deeper than mere marketing.
“That’s been fun, watching the people that we work with get into it. It’s been very fun. They see the human side to us, and they are proud to be a part of it, which is really the best thing. It’s the key to the whole thing,” said Tom Blanchard III.
The stories span from Revolutionary War soldier Reuben Blanchard — the beginning of the Blanchard family line in the U.S. — on through the nine generations that followed, from Thomas Blanchard Sr.’s famous red socks to the founding of Forest Hills and its “romantic” old Augusta Block brick roads, and on to the countless awards and achievements made by the family and its dedicated employees. Many people grew up alongside the business, and within those 100 stories many Augustans will find connections and moments to remember.
Some of the Blanchards themselves found new favorites — stories that even they didn’t know about until working with a historian on this campaign.
Tom III said he most enjoyed learning about the early Blanchard family history, but he also pointed to his interest in his great-grandfather’s innovative practices in real estate.
The story of the “Talking House” tells of an innovative effort to sell homes in a new neighborhood dubbed King Woods, on Kissingbower Road, in the late 1930s.
“I love the history of my great-grandfather and his partner, going back to helping try to create a unique first open house, which is something we still try to do today. It was basically like a showcase home, where they had designers come in, they had modern appliances and they ran ads, and it created a whole lot of interest,” Tom III said. “It drew crowds from all over.”
The home that set the stage for what could be called the area’s first open house still stands today.
The list of favorites and “the intriguing” tales go on, too many to name. But the stories are worth taking the time to read, as each holds a small nugget of Augusta’s history and the way things were. The stories can be found at 100years100stories.com.
With 100 years behind them, the Blanchard and Calhoun family of businesses are looking forward to the next 100 years in the community they are very much a part of, especially serving the people who live here.
And the Blanchards, who are no strangers to hard work, said they are focused now more than ever on moving forward.
“If you are standing still, you are going backwards,” said Tommy Jr., recalling the words of his father. “You have to grow; you have to keep moving forward.”
From the beginning, Blanchard and Calhoun has been in the business of real estate, mortgage and lending, and the company is still going strong.
“The biggest thing we can say is thanks for the opportunities we have,” said Tommy Jr. “Our goal is to treat people the way we want to be treated; it’s pretty simple at the end of the day. We don’t want to become a commodity. We want to differentiate ourselves and continue to focus on customer service and carry it on for another 100 years.”
After kicking off the 100 Years, 100 Stories campaign at the beginning of this year, Blanchard and Calhoun will come full circle at its annual holiday party to conclude the yearlong celebration.
The stories will serve the fifth generation of Blanchards in the real estate business and, they say hopefully, even a sixth. It’s a moving history book that future generations can add to in, say, another 100 years.
Appears in the October 2019 issue of Augusta Magazine.