In early 2016, I got a message from Dave Jenkins thanking me for my work documenting Georgia: Your Vanishing Georgia sites are rich sources of information, and I am very grateful to have discovered them. He noted that he was working on a similar project and that it seemed our paths had often crisscrossed. Since you have diligently assembled so much valuable information and made it public, I would like to make use of it where appropriate. It was a real honor, considering Dave Jenkins was the photographer who documented some of the most beloved Southern icons of our time in his bestselling Rock City Barns: A Passing Era. While this generation may know the barns as birdhouses from the gift shop at Cracker Barrel restaurants, they represent a lost era to many of us and the book has become a testament to their cultural significance. To think that he was drawing any inspiration from my work and was reaching out was quite humbling.
This May, I received a copy of Backroads & Byways of Georgia from Dave’s Chickamauga studio with the inscription: To Brian Brown, the Ubiquitous Man, without whose help I would not have found many of the sites in this book! As I leafed through the book, I was amazed at just how much of the same ground we had covered. As big as Georgia is, it’s full of wonderful small communities that have a way of attracting photographers like Dave Jenkins. And Dave has set the book up in such a way that the traveler or photographer can pick an area, set aside two or three days and see about everything worth seeing in that area. As an advocate of backroads travel, I highly recommend keeping a copy in your vehicle, much as you would a field guide to birds or wildflowers. Not only are the kinds of trips Dave outlines great for learning the history and seeing the natural wonders, they’re vital to the struggling economies of small towns.
As a fellow traveler, I’m awed by the fact that Dave covered over 10,000 miles in a year and had the time to put such a wonderful book together. I’m in my late 40s and Dave his late 70s! I’ve been doing this for over ten years and am just now forcing myself to do my first book that isn’t self-published. Dedication and a respect for your subject are what drive a good book and I heartily endorse the results of Dave’s work. Travel books are a dime a dozen, but not so Backroads & Byways of Georgia. It reminds me of Georgia: A Guide to It’s Towns and Countryside, the WPA classic published by the University of Georgia Press in 1940. Like any such book, it can’t cover every single place its creator would like to, but in seeking out so many places, it provides as good a road map as you can hope for. Georgia is full of hidden treasures and Dave Jenkins has provided the most compelling case I’ve seen in a long time for hitting the road and finding some of them.
You can find the book at Amazon and numerous other places, but if you’d like to order a signed copy, directly from Dave, you can email him at email@example.com.
I was so excited to receive this image from David Frey of an historic round barn in Laurens County; he was gracious enough to let me share it. He made the photograph in 1974, noting that it was a landmark to travelers between Dublin and Wrightsville in those days; the barn is still standing but no longer accessible to the public. As a result, I’m unable to share an exact location. This example is of the octagonal variety and though I have no idea as to a date, my best estimate would be 1900-1910.
A brief review of available references on the subject suggests this may be the only surviving round barn in Georgia; a 14-sided example, the Dorough Round Barn at Hickory Level in Carroll County is listed on the National Register of Historic Places but is apparently in ruins or no longer extant.
Guido Gardens is a place of refuge, just a couple of miles off I-16 in Metter, which has always been free and open to the public 24/7, 365 days a year. Walk around these three acres and you’re guaranteed to find a sense of inner peace, no matter your faith or belief system. It’s a testament to the vision of Michael Guido, who was better known as “The Sower” through his syndicated newspaper column and radio and television broadcasts, Seeds from the Sower. His wife, Audrey, was responsible for the design of the gardens. At a time when televangelists were plagued with scandal, Michael Guido was seen as a stabilizing voice. He never asked for money and actually gave his message to any and all who would hear it. Guido’s Sower Ministries is still going strong.
Take an hour and walk through the pines and flower beds. Listen to the calming sounds of waterfalls, which seem to be around ever corner.
One of the great features of the gardens is the Chapel in the Gardens, a modern prayer chapel built in 1984 in memory of Evelyn Stillwell. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale came to Metter to assist with the dedication.
As the guest registry in the chapel indicates, people come from all over the country and even the world to this special place of refuge.
The Carpenter’s Shop and the Empty Tomb (not pictured) are representations of important places in Jesus’ life.
A museum is also located on the grounds.