Category Archives: –HANCOCK COUNTY GA–

Collins Records & Tapes, Sparta

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Sparta Female Model School Dormitory, Circa 1815 & 1832

The Sparta Female Academy was established in 1832 by Sereno Taylor of Vermont. [Various sources also refer to it as the Taylor Female Academy, Sparta Female College, and Sparta Female Seminary]. It was supported by the Baptists. This and another renovated dormitory are all that survive of the historic boarding school. A preliminary evaluation by architect Brandy Morrison suggests that the rear section of this house is the earliest, circa 1815, with the front being added circa 1831.

After many years of neglect, the structure is finally getting some much-needed attention. Amber Rhea and Stacia Smith initiated a process of preservation in early 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has halted progress but Rhea and Smith are determined to see it through, whatever that entails.

A broadside dating to 8 December 1838 heralds the school’s reorganization and an enlargement of the course of study. The seven disciplines: Language; Mathematics; Cosmics; History; Geotics; Government; and Philosophy. Sereno Taylor was superintendent and a teacher in the Literary and Musical Departments. Five assistants were on staff, as well, with the expected arrival, in early 1839, of Madame Salmon Hantute of Paris, for the teaching of the French Language, Piano Forte, and Singing.

Annual tuition varied, dependent upon the level of instruction. It ranged from $25 for primary instruction to $125 for collegiate instruction. Musical instrument training was also on order, beginning with the piano forte, advancing to guitar, harp, and finally, organ.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Montour Mill House & Store, Circa 1857, Sparta

Montour Mill House, Circa 1857; photographed in 2014. 

When I photographed these forlorn structures in 2014, I felt they had an important history but also realized they probably didn’t have a promising future. My fears were confirmed last week when James Woodall reported they had been torn down.


Montour Mill Store, Circa 1857; photographed in 2014.

Further conversation with Karen West and Sistie Hudson highlight their importance and the tragedy of their loss. The structures were apparently the last two survivors of the antebellum Montour Mill village. The mill, chartered in 1857, was anchored by a four-story brick factory building. It was likely devastated by the Civil War and attempted a return to production, but was finished by 1884. The property and village was large enough to have been considered as a location for Georgia Tech in 1883. In Houses of Hancock 1785-1865, John Rozier notes: Even in ruins, the big brick factory was a Sparta landmark until it was taken down in 1951.

Karen West: It was originally a mill store owned and operated by a Jewish immigrant. He wrote 15 articles for the Sparta Ishmaelite about life in Czarist Russia. He extended credit to whoever needed it, regardless of race or religion. So sad to see a piece of Sparta history so disregarded. Hopefully someone has pictures of earlier, happier times for that little store.

Sistie Hudson: I took pictures, too—have admired it since I was a little girl…Jacob Nagurya [also written as Nagiiryn] was a Polish Jew. He was a favorite of Editor Sidney Lewis, hence the articles in the Ishmaelite. He owned the first phonograph in the county and sold them as well. He also served as rabbi for the Jewish Community in Sparta. I remember when there was still a row of mill houses across the street from this store. I am so sad about this loss—I have admired it for over 60 years.

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Saddlebag Farmhouse, Hancock County

This is the first photo that Anne Chamlee shared with me from her personal archive of backroad  photographs from Middle Georgia, and it’s still my favorite. It really is it, perfectly representative of the all the forgotten places I’ve spent nearly 15 years documenting.

It has been a real honor to get to know Anne and to share her passion for rural architecture and history with all of you. I hope you have enjoyed her photographs as much as I have.

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Saddlebag House, Hancock County

This is Anne Chamlee, who has shared so many wonderful photographs of Middle Georgia with me. She had likely just photographed this saddlebag farmhouse when she appeared on the other side of the lens, in 1990.

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Barn, Hancock County

Anne Chamlee noted that this barn was on Highway 22 but couldn’t recall if it was in Hancock County or Baldwin County. I will update if possible.

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Abandoned Federal House, Hancock County

This house is a good example of a locally early Federal style I-House. It likely dated to circa 1800-1820. Anne Chamlee made the photograph in northern Hancock County in March 1991 and the house is believed to be lost. I hope to identify it.

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St. Mark’s A. M. E. Church, Sparta

Founded by freedmen circa 1867, St. Mark’s was one of the first A. M. E. congregations in Hancock County and was a major social and cultural influence on the newly emancipated African-American community of Sparta. The present structure dates to either 1892 or 1901.

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Horeb Baptist Church, 1824, Mayfield

Organized as Folsom Creek Baptist Church on 28 June 1792 by Adam Jones and Jeptha Vining, this church was renamed Horeb in 1798 and relocated to the present location in 1799. As was often the case, slaves were members until the Civil War and some are buried in the adjacent cemetery. Newly emancipated, African-Americans began to organize their own churches after the war. At its bicentennial in 1992, membership in Horeb had dwindled to such a low number that the church officially disbanded. It is still well-maintained and used for occasional events and services.

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--, Mayfield GA

Reynolds House, Mayfield

One historic resource survey dates this Plantation Plain/I-House to circa 1860, but I believe it was built earlier than that. Other than the name of the first owner, I have been unsuccessful at locating more history.

 

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--, Mayfield GA