Tag Archives: Georgia Houses

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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Filed under --ELBERT COUNTY GA--

Queen Anne House, Elberton

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Filed under --ELBERT COUNTY GA--, Elberton GA

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

Amis-Elder House, Circa 1805, Oglethorpe County

This Federal/Plantation Plain-style house is an important early example of the form which came to dominate the architecture of the planter class in 19th century Georgia. Significantly, over two centuries, its owners have maintained the house with very few changes to its original state.

This property, near Big Creek, originated as a grant to John Peek which was sold to Joseph Crockett in 1797. In 1810, Crockett sold the property, including the house, to Thomas Amis. Tax evaluations indicate that the house was built between 1797 and 1810. Thomas Amis, Jr., inherited the property upon his father’s death and in 1867 sold it to S. R. Aycock. In 1884, it passed to Aycock’s daughter, Martha Elder, and in 1930, to his grandson, Courtney B. Elder. Mr. Elder, who bought out his siblings’ share of the property, lived here until his death in 1975. Dr. Forest Kellogg was a later owner.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --OGLETHORPE COUNTY GA--

Gabled-Ell Farmhouse, Oconee County

This house features a nice local stone chimney. It likely dates to the late 19th century.

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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

Crawford Long Childhood Home, 1810s, Madison County

Also known as the Crawford Long Childhood Home, this Federal style house was built by Madison County pioneer James Long, circa 1817. James long was the father of Dr. Crawford Williamson Long, the first man to successfully use ether as an anesthesia for surgery. The elder Long came to Georgia with his family from Pennsylvania in 1790 and was a successful planter and merchant and was one of the founders of Danielsville in 1812-1813. He was among the first in newly created Madison County (1811) to receive a license to sell liquor. His holdings in the area eventually reached 13,000 acres and at least 22 slaves. He married a local girl, Elizabeth Ware, on 8 December 1813 and their son Crawford was born on 1 November 1815, presumably at an earlier, though undocumented, home the family owned in Danielsville proper.

The land where this house is located wasn’t purchased until December of 1817 and wasn’t located within the city limits. Because of the low tax evaluation of the property at that time, it is presumed the house was not present at the time of the purchase. James Long was active in local politics and early sessions of the Inferior Court met is his home. He served as Clerk of the Superior Court, Danielsville postmaster, and in both houses of the Georgia legislature. According to the nomination form which added the house to the National Register of Historic Places, it is the only extant, authentic structure associated with his [Crawford W. Long’s] life.

After the sale of the house by the Long heirs in 1874, it has had several owners, including the Thurmond, O’Kelley, Thompson, and Sorrow families. They have kept a watchful eye over it. Crawford Long lived in the house until he left for nearby Franklin College (University of Georgia) in 1829. Local oral traditions suggests that Dr. Long was actually born in the house, which would place its construction date in the 1813-1815 range, but since no primary evidence exists to prove this claim, a debate continues. Either way, it’s significant as a residence of one of the most important figures in 19th century American medicine.

Dr. Crawford Williamson Long. Photo Source: A Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography, Volume 2, 1913. Public Domain.

The National Register nomination also notes: Architecturally, the Crawford Long Childhood Home has significance as a refined example of federal period architecture used in the construction of dwellings on the upper frontier portions of Georgia during the nineteenth century. The style of the structure is more refined than other extant vernacular houses of its area. A graphic reconstruction of the structure, with its original federal pedimented porch would reveal a definite change in character from its present appearance and would distinguish it from other houses in that early nineteenth century period and locality. The interior of the building is indicative of an imported eastern taste transferred into the upper Piedmont of Georgia. The wood paneling and graining found in the formal rooms of the house reflect quality craftsmanship and are a noteworthy accomplishment for that early date and time. The two second-story fireplace surrounds also convey a quality of craftsmanship. The smooth finishing of the interior wood indicates great care in construction as well…

National Register of Historic Places

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