There are many significant aspects to this house, not least of which is its original ownership by a woman, independent of her husband’s assets. It’s a wonderful example of a Plantation Plain converted to the vernacular Greek Revival. In consideration of resources available to me, there is some confusion as to the date of construction. While a sign on the property dates the house to 1840 and names it Echodell, the National Register nomination form (which was written over 30 years ago; new information have come from subsequent research), the property wasn’t even purchased until 1842, by Jane Donalson Harrell’s brother, Ruben Donalson. The majority of the property was later secured by his brother but four acres on the southwest section were set aside for his sister, Jane, in 1855. She and her husband, Dempsey Harrell, operated a cotton plantation here. Jane’s marriage contract stipulated that she would retain ownership of this property, a relatively uncommon arrangement in antebellum Georgia.
Around 1870 the house was inherited by a daughter’s husband, Dr. Augustus D. Shewmake. Dr. Shewmake kept a medical office and infirmary in a wing he added to the house (since removed). Also significant, he hired a governess to teach both black and white children on the plantation. This was relatively uncommon in the years following the Civil War. I hope to clarify the history as this is one of the nicest antebellum homes in this section of Georgia.
National Register of Historic Places