Tag Archives: Famous Georgians

Jessup-Atkinson House, Circa 1820, Madison

This house was built circa 1820 and and has been remodeled and expanded over the years. It’s sometimes referred to as “Luhurst” for former owner Lula Hurst Atkinson. As a teenager in the 1880s, Lula Hurst traveled around the country performing illusions of strength and levitation under the name “Lulu Hurst, The Georgia Wonder”. After working only two years she gave up performing and married her manager, Paul Atkinson, who once owned the Atlanta Cyclorama. They moved to Madison and Lula lived in this house until her death in 1949.

Madison Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --MORGAN COUNTY GA--, Madison GA

Phillips Mill Baptist Church, 1907, Wilkes County

In 1785, 16 people met at Joel Phillips’s Mill on this site with the purpose of organizing a Baptist church. The original millstones remain on the property. Silas Mercer was the first pastor, and served for 11 years. His son Jesse, who went on to establish what would become Mercer University, became pastor upon his father’s death in 1796.

Due to its association with the Mercers, and because of its early establishment, Phillips Mill is one of the most historically significant Baptist churches in Georgia. The present sanctuary, located about four miles from the original church site, was completed in 1907.


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Filed under --WILKES COUNTY GA--

Tarver-Webster-Wickersham House, Circa 1820, Wasington

Also known as the Tarver-Maynard House, this has most recently served as a bed and breakfast inn. It was once a dormitory for a Female Seminary and housed some of the students at Washington Academy, including future Confederate vice president and Georgia governor Alexander Hamilton Stephens.

East Robert Toombs Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --WILKES COUNTY GA--, Washington GA

Mercer Institute Science Building, 1853, Penfield

Photo Courtesy of Lamar Sanders

I’m excited to be able to share this historic photograph of the Science Building of the Mercer Institute, predecessor of Mercer University in Macon. It was graciously shared by Lamar Sanders, who took it in 1970. Almost certainly the work of builder/architect David Demarest, the Greek Revival structure served as the Penfield Village School after Mercer moved to Macon, but was badly damaged by a fire in 1977 and eventually demolished.


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Filed under --GREENE COUNTY GA--, Penfield GA

Gloaming Cottage, 1840, Clarkesville

Jarvis Mudge Pieterse Van Buren (1801-1885), first cousin of President Martin Van Buren, came to Clarkesville from Kinderhook, New York, around 1840 to manage the Stroop Iron Works and help develop Georgia’s earliest railroads. He had been involved in the assembly and operation of the first successful American steam locomotive in New York. Not long after coming to Clarkesville, Jarvis quickly turned his attention to architecture, furniture making, and horticulture, and was responsible for the construction of numerous homes and public buildings in the area. He built this house as his residence when he came to Clarkesville.



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Filed under --HABERSHAM COUNTY GA--, Clarkesville GA

Johnny Mize House, Circa 1890, Demorest

This house, originally a saddlebag and later expanded, was built by John Henry Loudermilk, the maternal grandfather of Johnny Mize. It is a private residence and the house nor the grounds are open to the public. The historic marker placed at the edge of the property by Piedmont College in 2000 notes: National Baseball Hall of Fame member John Robert Mize was born in this house in 1913. While only 15 years old and still in high school, Mize launched his distinguished baseball career playing for Piedmont College. He began his major league career with the St. Louis Cardinals (1936-41) and played for the New York Giants (1942-43 and 1946-49) with a three year interruption for service in the Navy during World War II. In 1949, he joined the New York Yankees, helping the team win five straight World Series titles. Mize was the 1952 Series MVP after hitting homers in three straight games. Johnny Mize was called “The Big Cat” for his sure-handed glove work at first base and his smooth swing. A 10-time All-Star player, he led the National League three years in total bases and four times in slugging percentage. In 1947, he hit 50 home runs while striking out only 42 times, a record that stands today (2000). His ML battling average was .312 with 359 home runs, 1,337 RBIs and 2,011 hits in 1,884 games. Mize was inducted into the Georgia Hall of Fame in 1973 and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981. Mize returned to live in his family home in 1974 and died in 1993. He is buried in nearby Yonah Cemetery.




Filed under --HABERSHAM COUNTY GA--, Demorest GA

Lawton Place, Circa 1884, Mount Airy

Alexander Robert Lawton built this as a summer home (Seventh Heaven) between 1884-1885 and his boosterism helped make Mt. Airy a popular resort area. Lawton was a Confederate general and attorney who later served as president of the Augusta & Savannah Railroad. Upon General Lawton’s death in 1898, the family’s holdings in Mt. Airy were sold and the house came into the possession of Caroline Thompson, who owned it until 1911. Mrs. Gene Keen-Knight of Vicksburg, Mississippi, apparently didn’t live in the house but maintained it as a rental property. It was during her ownership that baseball Ty Cobb lived here. He was having a house built on a large piece of property nearby and called the Lawton place home for a few years, in the 1950s. After Mrs. Keen-Knight’s death the house was sold yet again and several owners have followed. Most recently, it served as an event space known as Lawton Place Manor.

National Register of Historic Places


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Filed under --HABERSHAM COUNTY GA--, Mount Airy GA

Gravesite of Governor Ernest Vandiver, Lavonia

Samuel Ernest Vandiver, Jr., (1918-2005) who was born in nearby Canon, served as Georgia’s 73rd governor from 1959-1963. During his administration, the archaic county unit system that gave local political bosses vast power, was ended. This was seen as a step forward for Georgia but angered many of its beneficiaries. Honesty and fiscal responsibility were hallmarks of Governor Vandiver’s term. After leaving the governor’s office, he practiced law, first in Atlanta and then back in Lavonia. His wife, Betty, was a niece of U. S. Senator Richard B. Russell.


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Filed under --FRANKLIN COUNTY GA--, Lavonia GA

Ty Cobb Statue, 1977, Royston

Tyrus Raymond Cobb was born on 18 December 1886 at a place known as Narrows in nearby Banks County. He is one of the immortal legends of the sport and spent most of his career (1905-1928) with the Detroit Tigers, finishing with the Philadelphia Athletics. He was the first man inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. Ty Cobb, like his peers of the era, didn’t make a fortune in baseball but he invested his earnings into Coca-Cola and other stocks and made millions. His donations helped build the first comprehensive hospital in Franklin County, in memory of his parents. In 1953 he created the Cobb Educational Fund to assist students in need. The hospital has grown exponentially and the scholarships are still being awarded.  Cobb died in Atlanta on 17 July 1961.

The statue was commissioned by C & S Bank president Mills Lane and created by the great sculptor, Felix de Weldon, who is best known for the Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) Memorial. It was first placed at the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1977 and made the move to Turner Field in 1997. When the Braves left Turner Field for SunTrust Park in 2017, they decided to leave the Cobb statue behind, citing it wasn’t theirs to move. The Atlanta Recreation Authority and Georgia State University both made claims for the statue but ultimately relinquished it to the City of Royston. It’s become the biggest tourist attraction in town, and really, where else would it need to be?


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Filed under --FRANKLIN COUNTY GA--, Royston GA

Ty Cobb Monument, 1986, Royston

Like the larger statue of Ty Cobb directly in front of it, this monument has been moved to a place of prominence in front of the library. The reverse side lists some of Cobb’s myriad records, many of which will likely never be broken.



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Filed under --FRANKLIN COUNTY GA--, Royston GA