Category Archives: LaFayette GA

Cove Methodist Church, 1894, Walker County

The congregation of Cove Methodist formed in 1872 and soon built their first church, a simple frame building that was replaced by the present structure in 1894. The front of the churchyard is sheltered by one of the largest Chestnut Oaks (Quercus montana) I’ve ever seen. It’s a landmark in its own right. If you’re ever near Chickamauga, take the time to see Cove Methodist. It’s one of the most beautiful churches in one of the most beautiful churchyards in all of North Georgia.

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Craftsman House, LaFayette

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Eclectic House, LaFayette

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Gable Front House, LaFayette

I was unsure of a “style” for this house but it’s certainly a gable front house. I really like it.

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English Vernacular Revival House, LaFayette

This Tudoresque house is now home to a financial services office.

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Historic Storefronts, LaFayette

LaFayette has done a great job of maintaining their historic commercial architecture.

Rows of storefronts and free-standing commercial blocks all seem to be occupied, which is unusual for a town of this size these days. It’s very pedestrian-friendly.

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Bank of LaFayette Building, 1899, LaFayette

This is the most imposing commercial building in downtown LaFayette. The marble siding on the first floor was likely added during a renovation.

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Chattooga Academy, 1836, LaFayette

When Chattooga was established as the seat of Walker County in 1835, the Georgia General Assembly authorized the construction of an academy for boys and girls to be located in the town. The name of the town was changed to LaFayette in 1836, but the academy, which opened its doors to students during the 1837-38 school year, continued to be called Chattooga. Sometime before the Civil War, it became known as LaFayette Academy. During the Civil War, the academy served as a temporary headquarters of Confederate General Braxton Bragg during the Battle of Chickamauga. It served students of LaFayette until the early 1920s, when a modern high school was built.

In 1924, the building was purchased by three women’s clubs. Local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, as well as the Women’s Club of LaFayette raised money and remodeled the interior for use as a meeting place. In 1925, they re-christened it John B. Gordon Hall, in memory of the Confederate General and former Georgia governor and U. S. Senator who had been an early student at the academy. It’s likely the cannon ball pyramid was placed around this time, but I’m not sure. Due to vandalism and high upkeep costs, the women’s clubs deeded the structure back to the Walker County Board of Education, which then deeded it to the city of LaFayette. The Chamber of Commerce began renovation of the academy in 1971 and occupied it for many years thereafter.

Today it is part of the Joe Stock Memorial Park, a wonderful green space which also features the Marsh House. It is thought to be the oldest standing brick schoolhouse in Georgia. Another recent renovation in 2009 has insured that it will be around for many years to come. It now houses as a small museum and tourism office.

National Register of Historic Places

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Marsh House, Circa 1836, LaFayette

Designed by Spencer Stewart Marsh (1799-1875) around the time of LaFayette’s founding, this was home to his family and their descendants until 1989. It’s also known as the Marsh-Warthen House. Spencer Marsh was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, and married Ruth (Rutha) Terrell Brantley in 1824. They first migrated to Covington, Georgia, around 1833, and then to Walker County. He was a justice of the Inferior Court and a state senator and Walker County’s wealthiest and most prominent citizen with farming and real estate interests all over the area. He was also, along with Andrew P. Allgood and and William K. Briers, a founder of the Trion Factory (in Chattooga County), said to be the first cotton mill in Northwest Georgia, in 1845. It was later known as Marsh & Allgood. During the Civil War, the Marshes sought refuge in Cassville and upon their return after the war, found bloodstains and hoof marks from a Union pillaging.

Marsh’s daughter, Sarah Adaline, married Nathaniel Greene Warthen in 1859. Due to the heavy Union presence in Northwest Georgia, the young couple relocated to the relatively safer Warthen homeplace in Warthen, Washington County at the height of the war.  Afterwards they returned to LaFayette and also resided here with Sarah’s family.

It’s a near certainty that Spencer Marsh’s slaves were responsible for the construction of the house. He owned 12 in 1850. One of them, 16-year-old Wiley Marsh, was Spencer’s son according to widely accepted oral history. [Interestingly, Wiley Marsh is mentioned on a Department of the Interior marker honoring the African-American presence on the property but it doesn’t note that he was Marsh’s son]. Built in the Greek Revival style popular by 1840, the house was expanded between 1895-10 by Marsh’s grandson, Spencer Marsh Warthen, who also added minimal Colonial Revival features, including the balustrade, around 1935. Almost every architectural element and update of the house has been extensively catalogued. Addie Augusta Wert, great-granddaughter of Spencer Marsh, was the last family member to reside here, removing to a nursing home in 1989. Patrick and Donna Clements bought the house from the estate in 1992 and sold it to the Walker County Historical Society in 2003. The Marsh House of LaFayette is now operated as a museum, with limited hours.

This is an abridged version of Dan H. Latham, Jr., and Beverly Foster’s excellent history of this house viewable on the National Register nomination form. It’s a fascinating read, especially in regards to some of the Civil War associations of the house and family, as well as the background on Wiley Marsh, Spencer’s “mulatto” son.

To enhanceme the interpretation of the African-American experience at the Marsh House, a log cabin has been moved here and reconstructed to replicate what a slave cabin would have looked like before the Civil War. This cabin is actually about a hundred years old and was an outbuilding located on another property. It was donated to the Marsh House by Breck Parker.

National Register of Historic Places

 

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Walker County Courthouse, 1918, LaFayette

When Walker County was created in 1835, no provision was made for a county seat, but the designation soon went to the town of Chattooga. The town’s name was changed to LaFayette in 1836 and the first courthouse was built in 1838. It burned in 1883 and was replaced with a brick courthouse, which served until construction of the present structure was completed in 1918. Charles E. Bearden was the architect.

Walker County, along with Bartow, Bleckley, Chattooga, Murray, Pulaski, Towns, and Union, is one of the last remaining counties in the United States to utilize the “sole commissioner” form of government. Controversial due to the fact that one official holds all the executive and legislative powers of the county, the system has recently been criticized by state legislators. In almost all counties with this system, however, there are public meetings to allow community input.

National Register of Historic Places

 

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