Tag Archives: Georgia Architecture

Dry Pond United Methodist Church, 1904, Jackson County

Dry Pond Methodist traces its origins to the early 1820s and the property where the church now stands was given to the early Methodist Episcopal congregants by Joseph McCutchins in 1827. Typical of many congregations Dry Pond built their first church of logs while maintaining a large campground at the site. A more substantial structure was built circa 1870 and served until the construction of the present church was completed in 1904.

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Filed under --JACKSON COUNTY GA--, Dry Pond GA

Bachelors’ Academy, 1909, Jackson County

This schoolhouse is part of the Shields-Etheridge Heritage Farm and is just down the road from the main house and sharecropper’s village. Alex and Emory Shields, grandsons of James Shields, donated two acres for the construction of the school and it was named the Bachelors’ Academy in their honor. Ira had been a teacher himself in his younger days and believed strongly in education. In 1938, when Jackson County consolidated its rural schools, the Bachelors’ Academy became a school for African-American children, and Ira provided the teacher housing in the sharecroppers’ village. The school was in used until 1950 and was restored in 1996.

Shields-Etheridge Farm, National Register of Historic Places

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Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm, Jackson County

This property was originally settled by Joseph Shields and sons James and Patrick in 1802. With two slaves, they cleared and cultivated the land. The farm began producing “upland” cotton in 1810. When Joseph died in 1818, he willed the land to his son, James and by 1860, 20 enslaved people worked the land. James died in 1863 and in 1865 his widow, Charity, signed a contract with three of her former slaves, providing them housing and food in exchange for their work on the farm. When James and Charity’s son, Joseph Robert Shields, returned home from the Civil War in 1866, he built the main house and soon applied the sharecropping system to the entire farm, managing many of his former slaves alongside poor white farmers.

By 1890, the farm had grown to 1000 acres. In 1897, Joseph Robert’s daughter Susan Ella returned to the farm with her husband Ira Washington Eldridge. Joseph Robert Shields died in 1910 and Susan Ella and Ira inherited the house and surrounding property. To hedge his bets against increasingly unstable cotton prices, Ira Eldridge built a self-sustaining sharecropper’s “village” near the main house. In 1914, “Mr. Ira” transformed the main house from its historical Plantation Plain appearance to it present Neoclassical appearance by adding columns and raising the porch. The structures seen today were built between 1900-1930. Most of the sharecropper housing is gone today, but a few scattered examples survive.

Date Plate from Restoration of Main House [1914]

When Ira died in 1945, his son Lanis understood that the farm would soon be changed by mechanization. He diversified and in the early 1950s began breeding cattle and slowly expanding pastureland on his acreage. At his death in 1970, the sharecropper’s village was long abandoned. His widow, Joyce Ethridge, began documenting the history of the farm and in 1994 she and daughters Susan E. Chaisson and Ann E. Lacey gave 150 acres of the farm to the Shields-Etheridge Farm Foundation to preserve the site as an agricultural museum. Joyce’s research also led to the listing of the property on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Shields-Etheridge Heritage Farm is the most intact collection of historic farm structures in their original location in Georgia, and is an amazing place to visit.

Log Cabin
Commissary [1900]
Blacksmith’s Shop & Carpenter’s Shop [1900]
Tractor Barn
Warehouse
Cotton Gin [1910]
Gin Office [1930]
Gin Office Interior
Gristmill
Seed House
Teacher’s House
Well House [Reconstruction]
Water Tower [1913]
Corn Crib
Shields-Ethridge Family Cemetery
Milking Barn
Mule Barn [1913]

Garage
Wheat Barn [1910]
Tenant House

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --JACKSON COUNTY GA--

Haynes House, Circa 1818, Elbert County

Thanks to Anna O’Neal, who has educated me about many locations in her home county and environs, for identifying this important house, thought to be among the oldest extant in Elbert County.

Athens architect and designer extraordinaire Scott Reed writes: Absolutely remarkable…It was built in 1818 as a stylish five-bay Federal cottage and enlarged over time. The double-leaf entry doors are [excellent]...I am so glad to finally see signs of a possible effort to at least keep it standing.

Mark Phillips, a well-versed student of Georgia’s historic architecture notes: It belonged, and may still belong, to the Haynes/Hanes/Haines family , who either built it, or acquired it c. 1810-20. An early T. Haynes (possibly builder) married a daughter of a Greer (originally from Washington County, and Elbert)…The Hudson and Beasley families are also associated with the house…probably through later marriages.

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Vesta Baptist Church, 1912, Oglethorpe County

This congregation was established in 1906.

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Smithonia, Oglethorpe County

Situated on some of the most idyllic land in Oglethorpe County, the historic property known as Smithonia was for a time perhaps the largest single farm in Georgia, eventually encompassing nearly thirty square miles. It was a self-contained enterprise, with its own railroad, commissary, and enough tenants to necessitate a post office, which operated from 1889-1907.

This may have been the post office. I will update when I can confirm.

James Monroe Smith (Jim) was born in 1839 near Washington, Georgia. The lifelong bachelor built an agricultural empire on the gently rolling hills around this exceptionally large house (built circa 1866), and by the turn of the century was a millionaire. The three large brick barns (the first a stable) were built circa 1888 at the height of the farm’s productivity. They remain its most significant architectural legacy.

The primary means by which Smith amassed his fortune was the use of laborers he “rented”from the state’s prison camps, and nearly all of them were African-American. Many had been Smith’s slaves on whom the irony of being back in his “employee” was surely not lost.

Smith’s wealth and desire for influence led him to politics and he served terms in both the Georgia house and senate. He made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1906.

He died on the farm in 1915 and due to his bachelor status, his estate was unsettled for many years. Numerous claims were made for his land and considerable fortune.

Numerous owners have owned parts of the property over the years, including country music legend Kenny Rogers. The most recent owners, Pam and Dink NeSmith have made improvements to various aspects of the sprawling landmark and have recently listed it for sale.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --OGLETHORPE COUNTY GA--, Smithonia GA

Bush-Turner House, 1840s, Lexington

Like many of Georgia’s historic 19th-century homes, the Bush-Turner House originated as a Plantation Plain. The porch and Victorian details were added circa 1890.

I’m grateful to owner Rick Berry for allowing me to photograph the house. Rick also owns Goodness Grows, a nursery adjacent to the house. If you’re a plant lover and find yourself in Lexington, stop by and check out their amazing stock.

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Filed under --OGLETHORPE COUNTY GA--, Lexington GA

Lester-Callaway House, Circa 1825, Lexington

The Lester-Callaway (sometimes spelled Calloway) House originated circa 1825 as a simple double-pen I-House and was later modified with simple Victorian details. The architecture has been attributed to Dr. F. J. Robinson.

Lexington Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --OGLETHORPE COUNTY GA--, Lexington GA

Lexington Presbyterian Church, 1893, Oglethorpe County

The present home of the Lexington Presbyterian Church dates to 1893, but the congregation is one of Georgia’s most historic, originating with a group of Pennsylvania missionaries who came to the area in 1785 to witness to Native Americans. The early church was formally established on 20 December 1785 about three miles south of the present location by John Newton and was named Beth-Salem.

The congregation has dwindled to just a few members today and upkeep of the church has been difficult as a result. Hopefully, this treasure will be preserved.

Lexington Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --OGLETHORPE COUNTY GA--, Lexington GA, Uncategorized

Henry Strickland House, Circa 1790, Madison County

This familiar landmark in Danielsville was purportedly built by Revolutionary War veteran Henry Peter Strickland circa 1790, predating the creation of Madison County. Strickland and his wife Mary had eight children.

Additions to the house, prominently the front porch and posts, have led some to surmise the house to have been built later than its stated construction date of 1790, but local tradition suggests that it may in fact be of late-18th-century vintage. The Preservation Committee for the Madison County Heritage Foundation has shared these details, from an architectural survey: The interior of the building features 16-inch boards, no longer available, and the wood used upstairs has never been painted or stained. A set of ”dog leg” stairs leading to the upper floor has weakened with time. And although it is the only access to the top level, the stairs now remain unused for lack of repair.

Whatever its history, it is an important local landmark and will hopefully be preserved. I understand that the county has strongly advocated for the preservation of the house, but do not know details of its current status.

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Filed under --MADISON COUNTY GA--, Danielsville GA