Friday, June 3, 2016

City Keys - The Key to Rome, Georgia

Greetings!  Today's tour of city keys takes us to Rome, Georgia, a small community nestled in the Appalachian Mountains.  Rome was named after the more famous city in Italy, but not because of any Italian connections - the Rome in Georgia, much like Italy's Rome, was situated on seven hills.

The key to Rome is a sizable one, measuring in at about 9 inches from top to bottom.  It's made out of metal, taking a bronze coloration with it.  The key has writing on both sides of it.  On the first side, "KEY TO THE CITY" is engraved on it.  The other side has "CITY OF SEVEN HILLS".  At the top of the key is a small round seal, marking it as the city of Rome, Georgia, with a small tower sitting in the middle of the seal.

Though the founding of Rome had no connections to Italy, the two Romes would later find themselves linked together.  That story begins with the synthetic material rayon, a cellulose fiber used in textiles.  It was in 1928 when the Chatillion Corporation relocated their factory from Milan, Italy, to Rome, Georgia.  Given their involvement, word got out to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini that there was a Rome, Georgia.  Mussolini decided to donate a piece of marble from the Roman Forum to be the cornerstone for the rayon factory.  He ordered an inscription for it, reading "From Old Rome to New Rome".

That wasn't the last of Mussolini's gifts to the American Rome.  Following the completion of the rayon factory, Mussolini sent along a statue of Romulus and Remus beneath the Capitoline Wolf, representing the founding myth of ancient Rome.  The bronze statue was placed outside of the city hall, where it can be found today.

Of course, the statue itself was involved with a bit of controversy.  The subject matter of the statue, two babies feeding from a wolf, was deemed offensive to many visitors and residents, leading to the babies to be placed in diapers and the wolf to be covered with a sheet during certain events.  That no longer happens to the statue in the present time.  Another issue with the statue happened in 1933, when someone stole one of the twins from it.  The stolen twin was never found, so a new one had to be imported from Italy.  And with the outbreak of the Second World War, with anti-Italian sentiment strong thanks to Italy's involvement, the statue had to be removed because of threats to destroy it.  It was finally restored in 1952 thanks to strong community support.

The key to the "City of Seven Hills" has been part of our collection since 1979.  Take a look at it, and all of our keys, when you visit the key room!