Also known as the Swift-Tolleson House, this antebellum Greek Revival townhouse was built for Judge William Tyre Swift, most likely with the labor of enslaved men. The street on which it is located is named for Judge Swift. In 1879, legend relates that the world-famous SSS Tonic was invented in the backyard by Judge Swift’s descendant, Charles Thomas Swift. The tonic was one of the best-selling American patent medicines of its time and is still in production today, albeit a different formula. J. Meade Tolleson purchased the home in 1929 and it remained in the Tolleson family another forty years.
Tag Archives: Vanishing Middle Georgia
The South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church notes: Before the Civil War, when services were discontinued, the congregation worshiped in a building about one mile north of the present church. Following the war, Rev. James Hayes, a local Methodist preacher, began holding services once monthly in the old Primitive Baptist Church building. The congregation met there until the spring of 1883 when the present church was completed. The old building was used as a school until it burned in 1896. Some of the impetus for the establishment of this church came from the Hays Camp Ground which may have begun holding services as early as 1840. It continued until 1896, building a large tabernacle in 1875…
Apparently, the steeple is a relatively recent addition.
The iconic Jarrell’s Grocery is the heart of Taylor County’s Jarrell community. The landmark was just another country store when Floyd Jarrell opened it in 1905, but over the years, as such places have all but vanished from the landscape, it has become a reminder of another time, surviving mostly through the passion of the late Estelle Jarrell (1915-2017). “Miss Essie”, as she was known to all, ran the store for 78 years, enlisting the help of her sons in her later years but remaining a fixture for everyone who came here as much for conversation as for the sundries. She told Ed Grisamore in a 2015 Macon Telegraph feature that she remembered buying candy in the store as a young girl and started getting the family discount when she married Fred Jarrell, Sr., in 1934.
The store has limited hours today but her sons have done their best to follow her advice in keeping it open.
This row of four surviving tenant houses in southern Houston County is an important landmark of the sharecropping era. Interestingly, three different designs are represented among them. On the largest working farms, tenant houses were often located adjacent to one another in rows. Very few examples of this configuration survive today. And while it’s obvious that these won’t be around much longer, I admire the landowners who have kept them as reminders of the history. These likely date to the early 20th century.
The first two pictured are simple saddlebags.
This board-and-batten example is larger than the others and has chimneys on each end.
My favorite of the four was this hip-roofed saddlebag with false-brick siding. In the South, we generally refer to this type of siding as “tar paper”.
Though it appears at first glance to be a house, this was the Vernon Johnson School. Located across from Asbury Church, on the Wilkinson side of the Wilkinson-Twiggs County line, it is best known locally as Asbury School today. A state educational survey in 1918 recorded 31 students from both counties. Wilkinson County students attended for 5 months and Twiggs County students for 6 1/2 months. One teacher was responsible for all eight grades.
Ann Chamlee made this photograph in 1989. A newer structure stands on this site, near the Powersville community, and this historic African-American church is presumed to be long gone. Like Jordan Chapel A. M. E. in Haddock, Lizzie Chapel was likely used by the community for various purposes.
I’m honored to be able to share this photograph by Anne Chamlee; it will be one of several I plan on publishing here and on Vanishing North Georgia. Earlier this year, Anne reached out to let me know that she appreciated the work I was doing documenting Georgia’s rural architecture and that she had some photographs of her own that I might enjoy seeing. After several back-and-forth emails and some phone conversations, I’m so glad we were able to make a connection. She’s just as intrigued by the architecture of rural Georgia as I am and by the late 1980s was wandering around the backroads of Middle Georgia, photographing the endangered examples that sparked her interest. She’s also a delightful conversationalist, which is a bit of vanishing thing itself these days.
A Sooner by birth, Anne came South with her family just as the Dust Bowl was coming to an end. They wound up in Florida and she eventually met and married a man with roots in Hancock County, Tilmon Chamlee. Tilmon was a rising architect who had a very successful career in the commercial sector. After many years in Florida and then Macon, Anne and Tilmon eventually settled at Lake Sinclair in Baldwin County, where he continued his practice and indulged in his love for flying. He was also a commercial and instrument-rated pilot. Tilmon passed away in 2015 but Anne remains active in the community. After talking with her on the phone a few times, I still cannot believe she’s 85.
Regarding the house: It was located near Warthen, and is believed to be no longer extant. The photo dates to January 1989. It is of particular interest, as there is a very similar example nearby. The ornamental middle “gable”, as best I can tell, is a localized vernacular interpretation of the Queen Anne style. It’s possible they were the work of the same builder.
James Averette Bryan (1801-1847) and his wife Catherine Holloway Rix Bryan (1803-1861) were pioneer settlers of the long forgotten Wilna community. James A. Bryan migrated to Georgia from North Carolina, settling first in Twiggs County, and later in Houston. He was instrumental in the establishment of Houston County and in the layout of Perry [originally Wattsville]. Bryan originally built a log dogtrot house [pictured above] from timbers cut and milled on a site a few miles from Mulberry Grove. The original homestead was later occupied by Bryan’s oldest son, Dr. Robert Campbell Bryan, and his wife Eliza. [It survives but is not accessible to the public]. As his fortunes improved, Bryan constructed a more formal dwelling, known as Mulberry Grove, circa 1832* [pictured below, and in all subsequent photographs]. *-Some sources date the house to 1850, but discussions with two architectural historians and preservationists support the earlier date.
Mulberry Grove later became the home of Bryan’s third son, Abner Council Bryan and his wife, Harriet Taylor Bryan. Their son, John Averette Bryan and his wife, Linda Lee Bryan, eventually inherited it. Many members of the Bryan family are buried in an adjacent private cemetery, alongside the slaves who built and worked the plantation.
The most notable feature of the house is the rain porch (also referred to as a Carolina rain porch). Originally, there were only four stucco-covered posts but at some point two more were added for stability.
Rain porches are a very rare architectural element in Georgia.
The original kitchen is attached to the house by an enclosed breezeway. The addition of modern steps are one of the few overall modifications visible at the rear of the house.
Rear elevation (southeastern perspective)
Southern elevation, with double chimneys
PLEASE NOTE: Mulberry Grove is private property and is monitored closely by physical and digital means. I am grateful to have been invited by the new owner to photograph the property. He is very interested in making accurate historical renovations to the house and I believe he will be a good steward.