Category Archives: Sparta GA

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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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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Rossiter House, Circa 1797, Sparta

This house, said to be the oldest in Sparta, has grown up around an original log structure, through tasteful additions over the centuries. Built for Dr. Timothy Rossiter, it was purchased by Elias Boyer in 1812. It is sometimes referred to as the Rossiter-Little House, as the Little family owned it from the 1830s until the late 20th century.

In The Architecture of Middle Georgia: The Oconee Area, (University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1972) John Linley identifies the lattice work on the front of the house as “sheaf of wheat” and notes that it is a light and delicate but unexpectedly sturdy type lattice which seems particularly suitable to the South. [It is] too generally underappreciated and a rapidly disappearing feature of many antebellum homes. It is present on a few houses in Hancock and Baldwin counties.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

 

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Howell House, Sparta

This house is log underneath and is early antebellum, I think.

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Kennedy’s Store, Sparta

This old grocery store was once known as Lovejoy’s. It’s been closed for many years. Many photographers have stopped and shot the doorway and its whimsical  “Please Come Again” sign.

 

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Terrell-Stone House, Circa 1822, Sparta

Built in the early 1820s for Dr. William Terrell (1778-1855), this remarkable Federal house displays a strong Palladian influence. A front porch extending the width of the house was removed during renovations but was likely not original to the structure.

A stone-sided kitchen survives on the property, as does an office said to originally have been a billiard house [below]. Obviously, it was built in the Victorian era and the side room is a later addition.

Dr. Terrell was a leading citizen in early-19th-century Sparta, serving in the Georgia legislature and later as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives. He was the founder and first president of the Sparta Planters Club, an agricultural and social consortium of prominent landowners which aimed to improve farming practices. He endowed the first serious chair of agriculture in the United States at the University of Georgia. Terrell County in Southwest Georgia is named for him.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Harley-Harris-Rives House, 1840s, Sparta

This landmark house was built in the late 1840s as a wedding gift for William Harley and Mary Battle, and was home to the Harris and Rives families thereafter. Like most grand residences of its time in the South, it was built with slave labor. It was restored in the early 2000s by Suzy and Robert Currey and is today surrounded by their organic farming operations.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Cotton Warehouse, 1890s, Sparta

Built as a cotton warehouse in the 1890s, this structure was best known throughout most of its history as the Sparta Furniture Manufacturing Company. Suzy and Robert Currey bought it in 2012 and have transformed it into Sparta Mushrooms, with numerous specialty varieties being grown and distributed regularly to restaurants in Atlanta and Athens.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Elm Street Gardens, Sparta

I was impressed by the wonderfully ordered and vibrant displays of Elm Street Gardens. This certified organic no-till farm covers at least four acres and sells locally and beyond. Sparta transplants Suzy and Robert Currey have done an admirable job of creating a model for a successful organic farm in a small town.

Plantings of persimmon trees along the sidewalks throughout the neighborhood are especially wonderful this time of year, heavy with fruit.

 

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Moore-Lewis House, Circa 1823, Sparta

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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