Category Archives: –MARION COUNTY GA–

Shiloh-Marion Baptist Church, 1835, Marion County

The lost community that came to be known as Church Hill was opened to white settlers by the Land Lottery of 1827. To accommodate new arrivals, Native American trading routes were improved or superseded by the creation of new roads. In 1832, Timothy Barnard’s Path, which ran from Columbus to St. Marys, became known as the St. Marys Road or the Old Salt Trail. At a point between Kinchafoonee Creek and Lanahassee Creek, where three roads crossed St. Marys Road, five churches were built in a relatively short time, including: Mt. Pisgah (Kinchafoonee) Free Will Baptist (date unknown); Shiloh Baptist (1835); Christian Union (1840); Smyrna Associate Reformed Presbyterian (1838); and Evan Chapel Methodist (1838). Records indicate a school known as Centerville Academy was formed by the Smyrna trustees in 1838, suggesting the original name for the community was Centerville. It is unclear when the moniker of Church Hill came into use, but it first appeared on maps in 1870. The Church Hill post office was operational from 1893-1903, so it is likely that the area suffered a significant population decline at the beginning of the 20th century.

Shiloh-Marion is the last remaining church of the five that gave Church Hill its name and is a great example of vernacular Greek Revival architecture, common in antebellum churches in Georgia. A sign at the church notes the founding date as 1812, the year of the first mission; further documentation gives the founding date as 1835, when eleven members joined the Bethel Baptist Association. The church structure is believed to be contemporary to the latter date.

Shiloh-Marion Baptist Church  Cemetery, 1830s

The cemetery is a fascinating landmark in its own right, containing typical Victorian monuments and an unusual collection of stone markers. The stones are either stacked in elongated triangular forms or used as fencing. There has been some speculation that they are Native American in origin and to my knowledge there are no familial claims by church members. This still doesn’t get anywhere near evidence of Native American ties, but t’s worthy of investigation either way.

A sign and wooden cross mark the slave cemetery.

Unmarked concrete stones have been placed at approximate burial locations.

 

 

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New Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church, Marion County

This is located near the historic community of Church Hill.

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Big Chief Grist Mill, Marion County

This location on Lanahassee Creek has been home to a grist mill since the mid-1800s, according to an oral history conducted by Mia Harris in 2016 [Columbus State University Archives: Marion County Heritage Tour, April 2016]. Located near two historic communities (Church Hill and Pineville), the mill has been operated by three generations of the Upton family.

It ceased regular operations in 1950 but was revived in for a few years beginning in 1980. The late Billy E. Powell, son of Myrtice Evelyn Upton Powell, rebuilt the mill in 1994 and the sluice gate was rebuilt more recently.

The pond is known as Powell’s Mill Pond. It is one of the most beautiful locations in all of Marion County.’

 

 

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Abandoned House, Marion County

This is situated across Georgia Highway 41 from the entrance to the Marion County Middle/High School campus, just north of Buena Vista. The chimney almost looks like it belongs in a barbecue pit.

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Single-Pen Tenant Farmhouse, 1935, Marion County

This is one of the most extraordinary tenant houses I’ve ever seen.

At first glance, it appears to be a typical example of the form.

But further inspection reveals an inscription on the local stone chimney, dating it to 29 March 1935. While I have seen a few dated chimneys in my travels, this is the first one I’ve encountered on such a utilitarian structure. It’s an amazing testament to the pride of the builder, who may have also been the tenant.

As this remnant wall suggests, this already tiny house was subdivided, suggesting it may have been home to two tenants.

It also includes a shed room at the rear of the house, which is relatively typical with this form.

 

 

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Queen Anne Folk Victorian Farmhouse & Barn, Marion County

This historic farmhouse is a great example of Folk Victorian architecture.

As is somewhat common in this area, local stone was used in the construction of the chimney.

 

 

 

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Dogtrot Farmhouse, Marion County

This is a nice example of the “dogtrot” form and seems to be generally well-maintained.

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Liberty Methodist Church, Marion County

I first identified this historic structure, south of Mauk, as a schoolhouse, largely due to the fact that it still has traces of red paint. But George Woodall, who grew up in Mauk, relates that it was Liberty Methodist Church. It’s definitely endangered and will likely not survive much longer without intervention.

 

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William & Anna Jordan Homeplace, Marion County

The descendants of William Norris & Anna Singleton Jordan have nicely restored their family’s historic homestead. This is a great example of how a little attention can go a long way in preserving local history.

A well house and historic barn have also been restored.

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Pasaquan, Marion County

Pasaquan Eddie Owens Martins House Marion County GA Outsider Art Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

This 1885 vernacular farmhouse brought Eddie Owens Martin back to Marion County in the mid-1950s and helped forever change the artscape of Georgia. But of course, there’s more to the story.  As evidenced by the Pasaquoyan totems which greet visitors at the front door, Martin didn’t consider this place on par with the backwoods landscape that cradled it. Rather, it was a universe all its own and his life’s work was the manifestation of that mythology.

Pasaquan Marion County GA 1885 Vernacular Farmhouse Entrance Totems Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Eddie Owens Martin was born on 4 July 1908 to poor white sharecroppers Julius Roe and Lydia Pearl Martin. In 1922, to escape the rural life and his father’s abuse, he left and eventually settled in New York City. In the mid-1930s, Martin had a high fever which resulted in a series of visions in which three “people of the future” from a place called Pasaquan selected him to depict a peaceful future for human beings. After receiving these visions, Martin began using the name St. EOM (pronounced Ohm), EOM being the acronym for Eddie Owens Martin. He spent another two decades in New York, waiting tables and telling fortunes. Upon his mother’s death in 1950, Martin was willed this house and the surrounding acreage. He returned a few years later and set about creating the Land of Pasaquan, as foretold in his earlier visions.

Pasaquan Outsider Art Universe of St EOM Buena Vista GA Restorations in Progress Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

This visionary universe was literally created from the ground up, with St. EOM and the occasional assistant pouring concrete walls and creating eclectic outbuildings. Martin was an eccentric above all else and in a small town where most people were wearing jeans and overalls, his brightly colored flowing robes and long hair and beard, worn in varying styles, were a bit out of place. He was a celebrated fortune teller, as well, and Debbie Brazil recalls: “Went there many times with my Mama, for him to tell her fortune. The yard would be full of cars from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and one Sunday I remember one from Lousiana. Folks came from all around to see him.”  This suggests that he had a wide circle of associates who visited Pasaquan from time to time. Locals have said that he was tolerated because he helped keep some of the local stores in business buying so much material for Pasaquan. Other than a few friends and associates, he never quite fit in. His art received little attention in his lifetime. He committed suicide in 1986 and bequeathed Pasaquan to the Marion County Historical Society. A great profile from Tom Patterson, who literally wrote the book on St. EOM, can be found at Bomb Magazine. Subsequently, thanks in large part to the work of folklorist and documentarian Fred Fussell, a group known as Friends of Pasaquan was established to perpetuate Martin’s legacy. I’d like to personally thank Fred for pointing me in the right direction as to this photo project, as well.

Pasaquan Buena Vista GA Unrestored Totem Outsider Art of St EOM Eddie Owens Martin Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Even with the active involvement of the Friends of Pasaquan, the intervening years haven’t been kind to the place St. EOM left behind. Weather and time have taken their toll. But now, thanks to the generous involvement of the Kohler Foundation, the fading paint and cracking concrete (as seen on the totem above) that were beginning to threaten the very existence of this place, are being stabilized and given new life by a team of art conservators, assisted by art students from Columbus State University under the direction of professor Mike McFalls.

Pasaquan Buena Vista GA Shane Winter & Columbus State University Student Repairing Rebuilding Stone Wall Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Upon completion of the project, the Kohler Foundation will gift the site to Columbus State University (CSU) which will oversee it. The vast majority of St. EOM’s archival drawings, paintings and sculpture, long housed here, have already been transferred to CSU.

Pasaquan Restorations by Kohler Foundation Marion County GA Outsider Art St EOM Walls Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Totems are a common form here, as well as irregularly shaped concrete walls, embellished with various sculptural medallions.

Pasaquan Marion County GA Restorations Outsider Art Eddie Owens Martin Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Art restorer John Salhus from Parma Conservation in Chicago has been the primary paint conservationist. Here’s a totem he’s working on that really illustrates the scope of the project. Note that one side is painted and the other, with concrete stabilization evident, is still bare.

Pasaquan Totem Restoration John Salhus Kohler Foundation Eddie Owens Martin Buena Vista GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Shane Winter, from International Artifacts in Houston, has been painstakingly leading the concrete stabilization and reconstruction.

Pasaquan Buena Vista GA Restoration by Kohler Foundation Shane Winter Reworking Concrete Walls Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

The pagoda, set atop concrete piers, is the first and last thing you see at Pasaquan. It’s a highly unusual form in these parts.

Pasaquan Pagoda St EOM Buena Vista GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

The mural of the cross is particularly eye-catching. It’s centered on a wall depicting the galaxy (some galaxy) beneath colored circles of tin. The scalloped pressed tin is a recurring theme at Pasaquan.

Pasaquan Pagoda Cross Mural Buena Vista GA Eddie Owens Martin St EOM Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Erika Nelson, an art conservator based in Lucas, Kansas, has been busy documenting every inch of the pagoda before restoration can begin. Erika is an independent artist and educator who has traveled around the country championining Outsider artists and the environments they create, as well as seeking new material for her own whimsical creation, the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things.

Pasaquan Marion County GA Erika Nelson Restoring Pagoda Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

The pagoda is located beside what was essentially Eddie Martin’s sand box, a ceremonial space where he often did mystical dances.

Pasaquan Pagoda Being Restored by Erika Nelson Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

This visually complex meditation space is located directly behind the main house.

Pasaquan St. EOM Eddie Owens Martin Marion County GA Altar Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

It incorporates mandalas inside and out, so it was likely a temple or altar room by St. EOM’s imagining.

Pasaquan Marion County GA St EOM Mandala Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Here it is from the outside, just as fascinating. That’s John Salhus, in the far distance, meticulously painting the wall.

Pasaquan Structures St EOM Buena Vista GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

To the rear of the main house is this whimsical space, which St. EOM used as his studio.

Pasaquan Buena Vista GA Whimsical Architecture St EOM Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

This entryway contains nearly all the elements that can be found throughout the grounds.

Pasaquan Door Post St EOM Eddie Owens Martin Restorations Marion County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

A unique chimney serves as a visual anchor between the studio and main house.

Pasaquan Marion County GA St EOMs House Chimney Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

The area leads around the side of the house toward the carport, connected by more of St. EOM’s whimsical walls.

Pasaquan Carport and Wall Restorations in Progress Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

In a small valley just to the right is a temple that hasn’t been completely restored.

Pasaquan Eddie Owens Martin ST EOM Unrestored Building with Big Eyes Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Here’s one of several geometrically-influenced wall designs.

Pasaquan St EOM Marion County GA Outsider Artscape Geometric Wall Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

This wall medallion features a Pasaquoyan in a “gravity suit”. Watch out for the folks from Ancient Aliens. They’ll make a connection…

Pasaquan Wall Medallion High Haired Spirit Restorations by Kohler Foundation John Salhus Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

One section of wall is topped with snake sculptures. I’ve read that locals (children, mostly, I suppose) believed that St. EOM had a herd of trained rattlesnakes who acted as his protectors.

Pasaquan St. EOM Eddie Owens Martin Snake Wall Sculpture Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

And here’s my favorite from a section of wall containing colorful depictions of Pasaquoyans.

Pasaquan Outsider Art St EOM Buena Vista GA Wall Mural Face Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

National Register of Historic Places

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