Tag Archives: Georgia Vernacular Architecture

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
Cotton Gin [1910]
Gin Office [1930]
Gin Office Interior
Seed House
Teacher’s House
Well House [Reconstruction]
Water Tower [1913]
Corn Crib
Shields-Ethridge Family Cemetery
Milking Barn
Mule Barn [1913]

Wheat Barn [1910]
Tenant House

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --JACKSON COUNTY GA--

Apple Valley Baptist Church, 1888, Jackson County

The congregation who built this typical late-19th century house of worship organized in the idyllic Apple Valley community in 1887 and raised this structure the next year. It is thought to have also been used as a schoolhouse.


Filed under --JACKSON COUNTY GA--, Apple Valley GA

Saxon, Georgia

Saxon is a crossroads settlement located just south of the Broad River. This old store/filling station is about all that remains. I believe it dates to circa 1930.

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Filed under --OGLETHORPE COUNTY GA--, Saxon GA

Goulding House, Circa 1817, Lexington

The Presbyterian Church had a presence in this area in 1785, before the incorporation of Lexington or the establishment of Oglethorpe County. The missionary spirit which originally brought them to the community perhaps guided Liberty County native Reverend Thomas Goulding (1786-1848) in his creation of the Theological Seminary of the Synod of South Carolina and Georgia at this site in 1828. [The structure was built as Goulding’s home circa 1817, though one source dates it to 1808]. The seminary moved to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1830, and remained under the direction of Reverend Goulding until 1834. The name of the school was changed to Columbia Theological Seminary in 1925, and though it moved to Decatur, Georgia, in 1927, it retains that name to this day. Over nearly two centuries, it has produced numerous prominent social, political, and religious leaders.

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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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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Filed under --OCONEE COUNTY GA--

Union Primitive Baptist Church, 1896, Madison County

One survey states that this church building dates to 1896, but the congregation may be older.

There is a very large cemetery adjacent to the church. A modern structure across the highway now serves the congregation.


Filed under --MADISON COUNTY GA--

Jacob Eberhart House, 1854, Colbert

The Jacob Eberhart log cabin was saved and relocated to downtown Colbert, where it was reconstructed in its original form. It’s a good representation of a typical working class antebellum dwelling of this area of Georgia.

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Filed under --MADISON COUNTY GA--, Colbert GA

E. S. Hardman House, Circa 1850, Colbert

This is said to be the oldest house in Colbert in its original location.

Colbert Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --MADISON COUNTY GA--, Colbert GA

Pea Ridge Vernacular Houses, Rutledge

The gabled-ell cottage (above) and the saddlebag cottage (below) are two representative examples of vernacular architecture in the Pea Ridge community.

Rutledge Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --MORGAN COUNTY GA--, Rutledge GA