Tag Archives: South Georgia Plantations

Woodland, 1877, Wheeler County

Passing through rural Wheeler County from Lumber City (Telfair) to Alamo, one cannot miss this Eclectic Victorian with Carpenter Gothic details. An exquisite two-story arcade (not visible in this photograph) connects the main section of the house to a rear addition. More than one friend has commented over the years that the sight of the house stopped them in their tracks. It is a standout in South Georgia, out of place in a landscape most characterized by simple vernacular dwellings.

The McArthur family owned portions of the land around the house beginning in 1827. From the shambles of the cotton economy Walter T. McArthur (1837-1894) developed his father’s farmland into a thriving timber plantation and completed Woodland in 1877, the year of his father’s death. A Captain Renwick and Johnus Thormaholon are listed as the architects/builders. Walter was a Confederate veteran and served in the Georgia legislature from 1868-1871. His son Douglas later maintained and managed the property. It was sold in 1917 to Emory Winship (1872-1932). Winship was a career naval officer from a prominent Macon family and primarily used the house as a hunting lodge during his ownership.

The property is currently on the market.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --WHEELER COUNTY GA--

Mitchell J. Green Plantation, 1878, Evans County

Intact historic farms survive only through the care of generations of families; the Mitchell J. Green plantation in Evans County is an excellent example. In 1868, after service in the Confederacy, Mr. Green built a log cabin  on the property and commenced farming. The thriving operation became the center of a small community known as Green and had its own post office from 1882-1904. Mr. Green served as postmaster. A Plantation Plain farmhouse with Victorian accents, built in 1878, anchors the property. Numerous dependencies remain.

Commissaries are iconic components of Georgia’s plantations and many remained in use on larger farms until World War II. The Green Commissary appears to be in excellent condition; the shed protrusion is likely a later addition.

The stock/hay barn is the largest outbuilding on the property.

National Register of Historic Places

 

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Filed under --EVANS COUNTY GA--

West Hill, Circa 1836, Stewart County

The land which today comprises West Hill was first acquired by William Cunningham of Pulaski County in the Land Lottery of 1827. Cunningham never occupied the property and sold it to David Harrell about 1836, when the Greek Revival main house* is thought to have been constructed. He sold the property to William West (1799-1873) in 1853. By 1860, West had 3500 acres in cultivation and 2000 acres in timberland, making him one of the largest plantation owners in Georgia. He was also a leading cotton producer, with a record of 430 bales produced around 1860. Slave labor was integral to the operation.

West deeded the property to his daughter, Annie Crooks West, in 1867. She later married James Nelson McMichael and they lived in the main house the rest of their lives. After Mrs. McMichael’s death in 1915, estate administrators operated the farm until it was purchased by her nephew, L. M. Moye, Sr., in 1929. His descendants continue to own the property. I’m most grateful to Mac Moye for a generous tour of the grounds. The property is inhabited and private.

*-Mac Moye notes the similarity of the main house to the Bedingfield Inn in Lumpkin, suggesting they were likely designed by the same builder. This must be considered more than coincidental, considering the rural nature of Stewart County in the 1830s.

West Hill Dependencies

The historical importance of West Hill is most evident in the surviving dependencies that were the hallmark of self-sustaining plantation life. That the West descendants have maintained these structures in such authentic condition for more than a century-and-a-half seems nothing short of miraculous. Other than the absence of the original wooden shingles, the outbuildings are true to their original condition.

Schoolhouse, Circa 1853

Perhaps the most significant of the remaining dependencies at West Hill is the plantation schoolhouse. One of the first schools ever built in Stewart County, its use by neighboring children was strongly encouraged by William West, who even brought a tutor from New York to teach his children here.

Schoolhouse- Foundation Stones

Schoolhouse- Dovetail Joinery

Commissary/Meat Storage House

Kitchen

Cook’s House

Blacksmith Shop

Privy

Privy- Interior, showing the unusual five-seat design.

West Hill Dependencies- Slave Dwellings of “The Grove”

Few properties in Georgia retain the dwelling places of enslaved persons, so the survival of these three at West Hill is extraordinary. Though they have been maintained by the family for their historical value, they are the most endangered, and arguably the most important structures on the property. About a quarter mile from the main house in an area referred to as “The Grove”, these single-pen houses were used as tenant homes long after emancipation. As a result of their later use, two were slightly modified. One has an extra room and shed room, while another has a shed room. Like the dependencies at the periphery of the main house, these structures were of log construction with siding and would also have originally featured wooden shingles.

Slave Dwelling No. 1

All of the slave dwellings are believed to be contemporary to the construction of the main house, dating them to circa 1836.

Slave Dwelling No. 1- Interior Detail

Slave Dwelling No. 2

Slave Dwelling No. 2- Interior Detail

Slave Dwelling No. 2- Hearth

Slave Dwelling No. 2- Rear Perspective

Slave Dwelling No. 3

Slave Dwelling No. 3- Rear view showing shed room

National Register of Historic Places

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under --STEWART COUNTY GA--

Sam Engram House, Circa 1913, Zetto

Brothers Dan and Ed Giles, whose family has farmed the surrounding countryside for over fifty years, have transformed this historic home into the Pine Ridge Plantation lodge. They have modernized the space while maintaining its historic integrity and the plantation has quickly become one of the premier hunting destinations in Southwest Georgia. Though sometimes spelled ‘Ingram’, old timers from the area have written that it was spelled ‘Engram’.

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Filed under --CLAY COUNTY GA--, Zetto GA

Curry Hill, Circa 1855, Decatur County

curry-hill-plantation-decatur-county-ga-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2017

Duncan Curry, Jr., son of a state representative and senator and one of the earliest settlers of this section of Georgia, established a plantation in 1842 on property that had included an important early stagecoach stop. As the plantation expanded to eventually cover several thousand acres, the family lived in a log house next to the old stagecoach house. The present house, in the Plantation Plain style with a Greek Revival entryway, was built in the mid-1850s. It also served as a de facto neighborhood school.

In addition to their farming and entrepreneurial activities, Duncan, with his brother Calvin, built the first Presbyterian church in this section around this time. At the outset of the Civil War, Curry rallied a group of local men for the cause. They became Company F, Fiftieth Georgia Regiment, under Curry’s command. Injured in Maryland, Curry returned to the plantation and helped secure supplies for the local effort. His son, Perry, was killed in the war.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --DECATUR COUNTY GA--

Jane Donalson Harrell House, Circa 1855, Early County

early county ga jane donalson harrell house photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

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.

early county ga jane donalson harrell house echodell photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

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

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Filed under --EARLY COUNTY GA--, Jakin GA

Historic Coley House Lost to Fire

coley-farmhouse-inn-fritters-sajewinds-plantation-bleckley-county-ga-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2014

I just learned from Cindy McDonald Swartz that this historic property, built by Alcanah R. (Cain) & Martha Dikes Coley around 1842, was lost in a fire last night, likely caused by a lightning strike. It’s a real loss. Cindy’s photo shows that some of the exterior was saved but the interior appears to be a loss.

Coley House Bleckley County GA Gutted by Fire Historic Antebellum Landmark Photo Copyright Cindy McDonald Swartz for Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

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Filed under --BLECKLEY COUNTY GA--