Columbus Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Tag Archives: Columbus GA
When Colonel William Wynn built this stately mansion, it was called Oakview. Colonel Wynn, for whom the Wynnton area of Columbus is named, was an early settler of the Lower Chattahoochee Valley. Henry Hurt bought the house in 1852 but never lived in it, selling it to Hines Holt in 1855. Holt was a prominent attorney, as well as a member of t he U. S. House of Representatives. In 1905, Tom Cooper purchased the house and moved it closer to Wynnton Road so the property could be subdivided for other development. In 1932 the S. C. Butler family bought and completely restored the house. The Christian Fellowship Association moved into this landmark in 1958. Today it’s operated as a membership-oriented event and entertainment space.
National Register of Historic Places
This postcard came into my possession through the estate of a cousin, who was a great niece of Tom Darby. Largely forgotten today, Thomas P. (Tom) Darby [1892-1971] and James J. (Jimmie) Tarlton [1892-1979] were considered not only legendary bluesmen but pioneers of country music as well. They’ve been called the first country musicians to employ the steel guitar. Their most famous work, “Columbus Stockade Blues”, has been covered by artists ranging from Doc Watson and Willie Nelson to Bill Monroe, Jimmie Davis, and Bob Dylan. When they made the recording for Columbia in Atlanta in November 1927 Tom Darby pressed for a flat payment of $150 but Jimmie Tarlton wanted royalties. The song took off and sold over 200,000 copies in a short time and though the duo recorded 63 more songs dating to 1933, hostilities over lost royalties finally drove them apart. They reunited in 1965 for a symphony appearance in Columbus but no further collaborative recordings were made. Tarlton, always considered the standout of the duo, did make solo recordings in the 1960s. Search Amazon for compilations, which are available and provide valuable insight into the birth of American popular music.
Five generations of the Golden family have been involved in this legendary business. Theodore Earnest “Theo” and John Poitivent “Porter” Golden founded Golden Brothers in 1882. They were incorporated and renamed Goldens’ Foundry & Machine Company in 1889 and have been in continuous operation ever since. Through expansion and innovation, they’ll likely be around another five generations.
National Register of Historic Places
Long before “hot chicken” was nationally famous, the Top Hat Cafe in Columbus had a devoted following for their version, a bone-in breast served between two pieces of white bread. The restaurant was a local favorite for over half a century and closed sometime in the past ten years. Ray Charles is said to have been a big fan. After numerous requests Will Dockery wrote: Here it is, the Holy Grail of Fried Chicken, Top Hat…I worked with one of the founders’ daughters and talked her out of the recipe. Prep your chicken the night before 1/2 gal of water, 1/4 cup salt. Submerge and allow to soak over night. 6 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup cayenne pepper, 1/2 cup red pepper (flakes), 1/8 cup salt. Add ice water until the consistency of pancake batter is reached. Prepare deep fryer with Crisco solid vegetable shortening, heat to 375 degrees. Drop a small amount of batter into hot shortening and after it floats, taste it. Some like it hot. Some like it hotter. Add equal parts of cayenne pepper and red pepper (flakes) to increase the heat. Drain Chicken from salt bath and pat dry, dip in batter and submerge in hot shortening. Breasts 14 min, thighs 10 min, legs 8 min, wings 6 min. Remove from shortening and allow to drain in a colander or on paper towels. And so it goes.
A local landmark, Chester’s has great barbeque and is usually quite busy. The service is some of the best around. It’s the first place I ever ate in Columbus.
Now re-purposed as condominiums, Eagle & Phenix Mills is among the most historic industries in Columbus. Per their website: Cotton milling operations began on this site when William H. Young established the Eagle Mills. In 1860 when Mr. Young absorbed the nearby Howard Factory, Eagle Mills became the second largest mill in Georgia. The Eagle Mills produced material for Confederate uniforms and other critical goods during the Civil War at the site of our present Mill #1. Because of slow communication a land battle was still being fought in our area after the peace treaty had been signed by Lee and Grant to end the war. Federal forces over-whelmed the defenders of Columbus, crossed the river and burned the Eagle Mills buildings. Mill # 1 was rebuilt in 1869.
The present Mill #1 was rebuilt in 1869 and renamed the Eagle & Phenix Mills to symbolize rising from the ashes. Mill #2 followed in 1872 and portions of Mill #1 in 1885. The other historic buildings remaining on the site are the Boiler House (circa 1878), the Administration Building (circa 1878) and the Machine Shop (circa 1886).
During this period of expansion, the Eagle & Phenix quadrupled its size becoming the largest mill in the south by 1878. The mill was distinctive because it produced over 100 varieties of cotton and woolen goods. Eagle & Phenix was known for its technological sophistication and the services it provided its workers. One of these services was the Eagle & Phenix Bank. Unfortunately, this period of rapid expansion was followed by economic hard times brought about by changes in the market. The mill went into receivership and was purchased by G. Gunby Jordan in 1896. One of Mr. Jordan’s investors was W. C. Bradley. G. Gunby Jordan owned the mill from 1896 to 1915 while W. C. Bradley served on the board. From various correspondences, it seems that Mr. Jordan suggested that Mr. Bradley accept the presidency of the mill. W. C. Bradley did accept the presidency and ultimately owned the Eagle & Phenix Mill from 1915 until 1947.
After several different owners in the ensuing years, it was reacquired by the Bradley Company in 2003 and has once again become a symbol of Columbus.
Columbus Historic Riverfront Industrial District, National Historic Landmark
Dive bars are an endangered species and this is one of the coolest around, at least in appearance. The signage alone deserves a bit of reverence. Places like this were once ubiquitous in towns of any size, but now, for a host of reasons, seem nearly impossible to find. I’m unsure if the Sputnik is still open.