Category Archives: –DODGE COUNTY GA–
In her History of Dodge County (Atlanta, Foote & Davies, 1932), Mrs. Wilton Philip Cobb wrote: Situated about eight miles north of Eastman, on the Southern Railway, is the little town of Gresston. This town was named for Mr. G. V. Gress, who in 1883 built one of the largest sawmills in the South at this point. In connection with the sawmill was a large dry kiln plant, the first of its kind in this section. Although here was the best yellow pine timber, which was both plentiful and cheap, the mills at that time were having trouble in disposing of their lumber…because of low price and the lack of demand. G. V. Gress was quick to see the advantage of selling a finished product, and he made a trade with a Mr. Moore, of the Moore Dry Kiln Co., to build these dry kilns, which were among the first in the South.
…the Gress mill had a big advantage over the less progressive manufacturers and as a result the Gress Lumber Company built up a profitable business…
…The mill town of Gresston grew and flourished for many years, but like all sawmill towns of those early days, when the mills were through and moved away, the town also went. All that is left of this once flourishing town are a few residences and a mercantile establishment and a large ginnery that are owned and operated by Ragan Brothers…Claud and R. T., of Eastman.
After retiring from the lumber business, Mr. Gress moved to Atlanta, where in 1889 he presented the city with the menagerie that would become today’s Zoo Atlanta. He also purchased the Cyclorama in Grant Park and presented it to the city. He later moved to Jacksonville, Florida.
Jerry Whigham writes: This is my grandfather’s (Jim Whigham) house that he built by hand in 1951. He lived here until 1990. In 1951 power lines were run down this highway. He was already living on this property in an older house near the old barn about a quarter or half mile back from the highway, but it was cheaper for him to build a new house near the road than to have electrical service run back to the existing house. He used his own trees for lumber which he took to the sawmill. He used his own labor. He also used parts and pieces from the old house. My father (Joseph Neal Whigham) wired or helped him wire the house.
As of 2018, this house has been torn down.
The loss of this house would be a real shame, but it’s not abandoned, and the owners may list it for sale in the future. It served for many years as a law office and is still in relatively good condition. At least a window has been boarded to keep out the elements and varmints of the two- and four-legged varieties. It’s design is an amalgam of several styles and since, as I often note, I’m not an architectural historian, I’m at a loss to properly classify it.
The vintage Plymouth Fury III parked beside it is a wonder in itself.
Designed by the great courthouse architect J. W. Golucke (Golucke & Stewart), Dodge County’s historic jail was built by the Pauly Jail Building Company, which is still in business today. It originally featured a three-story tower in the center, but that was removed during a roof renovation. It closed in 1973 upon the completion of a more modern facility.
The detailed metal window arch inserts are quite decorative for a jail. As evident in this photograph, serious structural damage is an immediate threat.
A hanging room with trap door and lever are still intact, but leaks and continued neglect will need to addressed soon to stabilize the structure. Hopefully, Dodge County will utilize the jail in the future for a cultural resource center or something of that nature. Since its inclusion on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2010 Places in Peril listing, little, if any, restoration has been done.
National Register of Historic Places
Designed by E. C. Hosford, Dodge County’s Neoclassical courthouse is still in use. It’s the second courthouse in the history of the county; William Dodge had a two-story frame courthouse built at his expense as an appreciation for the county having been named in his honor. It was torn down in 1906 or 1907 and replaced with this structure.
National Register of Historic Places