Category Archives: Lumpkin GA

Holley Mural Dedication, Lumpkin

Ezekiel and Lonnie Holley

On 24 July 2021 I was honored to attend the dedication of a mural designed by nationally renowned artist Lonnie Holley and painted by his son Ezekiel, on the side of the Singer Hardware building on the square in Lumpkin. Mr. Holley’s work is often classified as Outsider Art, though The New York Times called him “the Insider’s Outsider”.

The work actually comprises two individual works of art. The image on the left is “Born into Color”, and the image at right is “Black in the Midst of the Red, White, and Blue”.

According to his website, Lonnie Holley began working by the time he was five years old. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1950, and lived in a whiskey house, the state fairgrounds, and several foster homes. Holley notes that his early life was chaotic and he never got to experience a real childhood. Perhaps this explains why the artist has such an infectious good spirit today.

Also from Mr. Holley’s website: Since 1979, Holley has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity. His art and music, born out of struggle, hardship, but perhaps more importantly, out of furious curiosity and biological necessity, has manifested itself in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and sound. Holley’s sculptures are constructed from found materials in the oldest tradition of African American sculpture. Objects, already imbued with cultural and artistic metaphor, are combined into narrative sculptures that commemorate places, people, and events. His work is now in collections of major museums throughout the country, on permanent display in the United Nations, and been displayed in the White House Rose Garden. In January of 2014, Holley completed a one-month artist-in-residence with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Captiva Island, Florida, site of the acclaimed artist’s studio.

A nice crowd turned out for the dedication and braved excessive heat for the opportunity to meet Mr. Holley.

This young man kicked off the ceremony with a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem.

Annie Moye, who organized the event and helped secure the mural, speaks at the dedication.

Mike McFalls, an Associate Professor of Art at Columbus State University and Director of Pasaquan, gave context about Mr. Holley’s place in the art world and a brief overview of his life and career.

Spontaneity was the order of the day, and Mr. Holley was quick to join the improvisational street dance and shared some good moves with the crowd.

Carlonie Holley putting the finishing touches on her chalk art

Mr. Holley also took time to visit with anyone who was so inclined and personally answered many questions from those in attendance.

He also gave a demonstration of his process to local 4-H members.

The hand of the artist

I want to personally thank Annie Moye for inviting me to document the event and to give a special thanks to Lonnie, Ezekiel, and the entire Holley family for allowing me to photograph them. They were really nice folks and I’m honored to have had the opportunity.

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Harvey’s Garage, Lumpkin

Harvey’s has been in business for many years but I believe this structure was originally a general/grocery store. The old RC sign looks like it’s been around for a long time.

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Folk Victorian House, Lumpkin

Uptown Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Cross Gable House, Lumpkin

Pigtail Alley Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Hester House, Lumpkin

Pigtail Alley Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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General Clement Evans Boyhood Home, Circa 1835, Lumpkin

One of Georgia’s best-known citizens during his lifetime, General Clement Anselm Evans (1833-1911) was born near Lumpkin to Anselm  & Sarah Evans and grew up in this house. He was admitted to the bar at the age of 18 and married Mary Allen “Allie” Walton in 1854 . He was soon thereafter elected to a Stewart County judgeship and five years later was elected a state senator on the Know-Nothing ticket.

In April 1861, Evans resigned his legislative post and joined the Confederate army as a private. He became commander of the Bartow Guards (Thirty-first Georgia Infantry) in 1862, fought at Shenandoah and was present at nearly every battle of the Army of Northern Virginia. Evans was promoted to brigadier general in 1864.

After the war, General Evans was ordained a Methodist minister. He served at least six congregations in North Georgia over the course of 26 years. Upon the death of his wife in 1884, he married Sarah Ann Avary Howard. After retiring from the ministry, he edited the 13-volume Confederate Military History and coedited the influential Cyclopedia of Georgia. He was a co-founder and Georgia Division commander of the United Confederate Veterans and served the organization as commander-in-chief  from 1909-1911. His body lay in state in the state capitol and his funeral was heavily attended. Evans County was named in his honor in 1914.

Pigtail Alley Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Zeph Mathis House, Lumpkin

This historic Plantation Plain house has been unoccupied for some years but has recently been gifted to the county. There is hope that it will be restored or at least stabilized. It’s likely antebellum though I haven’t been able to locate a date for it.

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Jared Irwin House, Circa 1830, Lumpkin

Thought to be the oldest house in Lumpkin, this was originally a log dogtrot to which siding was later applied.  It was the home of Jared Irwin, namesake nephew of the early Georgia governor. Upon the death of the younger Irwin’s parents, Alexander and Penelope Irwin, he was adopted by his uncle. He was in the first graduating class of Franklin College (now the University of Georgia), was an original settler of Lumpkin and served as clerk of the inferior court of Stewart County. During the Creek War of 1836, he was killed in the Battle of Shepherd’s Plantation and was tied to his horse, which returned his body to Lumpkin.

The house has been modified over time but the interior remains in largely original condition. The shed room along the rear and the front porch are later additions. It is also known as the Irwin-Partain House.

National Register of Historic Places

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Erasmus Beall House, Circa 1836, Lumpkin

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Stewart County Courthouse, 1923, Lumpkin

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T. F. Lockwood, Jr.’s design for the fifth courthouse to be built in Stewart County, is one of his nicest designs, in my opinion.

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The cornucopias on the pediment and the sunflower medallions on the frieze are artistic decorations likely unique among Georgia courthouses.

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National Register of Historic Places

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