I believe this was built as a Plantation Plain (I-House) and was later modified to its present appearance. It’s a beautiful old home and is the centerpiece of the Hendrix Farm, whose produce and Vidalia Onions are well-loved in the area.
In its heyday, Excelsior was the cultural center of Bulloch County (this part of old Bulloch is now located in Candler County), and Josh Everett was one of its pioneer settlers. While this house was being built, his family lived in a log cabin which was later moved for use as a servants’ dwelling. The house was originally built in the Plantation Plain style(circa 1866); the wings were added later as the family grew.
This mule & horse barn, a landmark in its own right, was built around the same time as the store across the road (1900). Mr. Everett had a nail for every mule and horse. Each one’s gear was on a different nail. There was also a sawmill beyond the barn. You know when you see it from Dutch Ford Road that it’s quite special, the sort of historic farmstead that is all too rare today.
Howard Bland and Fate DeLoach bought the property in 1940 and it remained in the DeLoach family until 1988. Thanks to the Nevil family, who recognize its historic importance, it’s still a working farm and has been given a dual purpose as Dutch Ford Farms Wedding & Event Venue. Susan Nevil gladly shared its amazing story. If you need a great location for a wedding or family reunion, get in touch with them via their Facebook page. I can’t imagine a more peaceful place for hosting an unforgettable event.
Near this wonderful old farmhouse, which is still the heart of a working farm, a historical marker placed by the Averitt Foundation reads:
Excelsior was the cultural center of Bulloch County in the late 1800s before it became part of Candler County. It was founded in 1875 on land donated by Jimerson Kennedy, Remer Franklin, W. W. Olliff, Dr. Jeff Williams, and John G. Jones. These founders desired to build a “good and permanent school” for their children, so they funded the construction of Excelsior Academy. It was built in a place thought of as the town square, surrounded by oak and pine trees. It attracted students from nearby areas who boarded with community members during the school term. Its teachers were often affiliated with the Baptist church in town. The academy drew newcomers to Excelsior, which grew after its establishment.
The Excelsior News (1877) became the first newspaper in Bulloch County and also served people in neighboring areas. Olliff’s General Store on the outskirts of town was another community staple. After nearby areas grew due to railway construction in the early 1900s, they siphoned off the population of Excelsior. The academy became a primary school in a sparsely populated town.
Linda Adams writes: “The property belongs Imogene McLendon, a good friend of mine. She is 93 and she and her late husband bought the Burt farm from C.H. and wife in 1947. They subsequently purchased the Bell and Hudson farms and carried on a successful diversified faming operation until Jessie’s retirement in the late 1990’s. They worked as a team in decision making. Imogene got elected to the Schley County Commission in the early 1980’s and then was elected by the commissioners to serve as chairman – she served three terms and spent a 40 hour week at the job. Quite a woman. The family will retain the “white house” as they call the Burt house – they recently reroofed it and will restore the chimneys.”
I’ve photographed this house dozens of times over the last six years and recently learned that it is being deconstructed and the lumber salvaged for use in a new structure. The longtime owners of this landmark spent many years maintaining it and without their commitment to its history, it would have been long gone by now. I’m grateful for being allowed unlimited access to photograph and document it in its final days.
I believe the house originated as a Plantation Plain, or I-House, the common vernacular style of wealthier farmers and planters in 19th-century Georgia. The porches were likely a later addition, giving it its present French Colonial appearance.
The first floor foyer is dominated by a narrow stairwell. To the right of the stairs is a re-paneled bedroom. One of the two main rooms downstairs would have originally served as a parlor and the other may have been a bedroom or dining room.
A “modern” kitchen is evidence that this home has served many generations, though the appliances and design attest to how long it’s been empty.
The upstairs bedrooms are largely unchanged.
As closets were not in use in the mid-19th-century, this one, with a simple closure, was added later.
The mantels are being removed and will be reused. The bricks in the fireplaces were made locally and are one of the best indicators of the age of the house.
In one bedroom, some of the wall boards have already been removed, revealing the beautiful rough-hewn local lumber that frames the house.
The second floor foyer is brightened by sidelights, replicating the appearance of the main entryway.
The foyer leads to a porch with louvered ends to maximize air circulation.
When the house is viewed from the rear, it seems possible that the hallway at the rear of the second floor was once a breezeway, especially when considering the larger windows in the middle.
Here’s the hallway.
It appears to be wasted space in the present form, and people in mid-19th-century rural Georgia didn’t waste space. Still, it’s a nice feature today. More of the original rough-hewn walls have been exposed by the deconstruction.
There are small rear corner rooms on each end of the second floor.
Corner posts are reinforced by buttresses and wooden pegs.
Here’s the view from the top of the landing back down to the first floor entryway.
And here’s a view of the roof of the kitchen/packhouse addition.
And another rear view of the house, showing the size of the kitchen/packhouse.
Unlike most detached kitchens which have been connected to a main house, this one only has outside access. The original kitchen is really a complex of three rooms. The first section likely served as a dining and storage area.
The second room was where the work of the kitchen was done, featuring a large hearth.
A small room at the end of the complex was likely used as a packhouse/root cellar.
I feel fortunate to have been able to experience this house. It’s a real gem.