Tag Archives: Georgia Women’s History

Shaking Rock Park, Lexington

Shaking Rock Park is a fascinating natural area located within the city limits of Lexington is named for a 27-ton rock that could be shaken with one hand while remaining in place, before the elements shifted its balance [likely the 1886 Charleston earthquake]. It still maintains a precarious perch albeit aided today by some sort of mortar.
The random field of mostly egg-shaped granite boulders comes into view at the crest of a fairly low hill and defines the trail to come. It’s a fairly easy walk and other than the presence of large roots in places, has few obstacles.
Archaeological evidence suggests that before European habitation, the site was used by Cherokee and Creek peoples as a campground.

In 1968, Shaking Rock became a public park thanks to the efforts of the Lexington Women’s Club.

Judge Hamilton McWhorter was the last private owner, and three of his heirs, Mrs. Andrew Cobb Erwin, Mrs. Sallie McWhorter, and Thurmond McWhorter, made the public transfer possible.

Depending on where one stands, the namesake rock’s appearance can vary greatly. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with graffiti at the site.

Shaking Rock Park is an excellent natural resource and is free to explore.

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

Stilesboro Academy, 1859, Bartow County

Stilesboro was incorporated in 1866 and retained that distinction until 1995. It was named for Savannah attorney William Henry Stiles, who served in Congress and the Georgia House of Representatives.

A high school was established here in the late 1850s and the community raised funds and completed the present structure in 1859. It was the center of the community and during the Civil War was used for sewing Confederate uniforms. Though it is likely apocryphal, a legend persists that in May 1864 Sherman spared the Academy due to an interior inscription: Deo ac Patriae [God and Country]. [I say it’s likely apocryphal because there’s a story like this for nearly every surviving antebellum building in the South].

The Stilesboro Improvement Club, a woman’s benevolent society, lobbied to save the old Academy when a new school was built nearby, and has owned the building since the school closed in 1939-1940. Formed in 1910, the club, at the suggestion of Miss Campie Hawkins, began holding an annual chrysanthemum show in 1912. The Stilesboro Chrysanthemum Show continues to be a popular event, 108 years later. It has taken place every year, except during the Great Influenza (1918) and World War II (1942).

The Etowah Valley Historical Society notes that research on the history of the Academy is incomplete.

 

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Filed under --BARTOW COUNTY GA--, Stilesboro GA

Hutchinson-Parham House, 1940, LaGrange

This imposing landmark of the Mediterranean Revival style was built for Robert and Florence Hutchinson in 1940*. It is notable in that it was built by one Georgia’s first woman architects, Ellamae Ellis League (1899-1991) of Macon. Ms. League was the first Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in Georgia and one of only eight in the nation at the time of her death. She designed high schools, hospitals, gymnasiums, and other public facilities, as well as numerous residential commissions. She oversaw the renovation and restoration of the Grand Opera House in Macon.  Her daughter and a grandson also became architects.

Of Ms. League, Bamby Ray writes: League became an architect by necessity. In 1922, divorced at age twenty-three with two small children, she entered a profession for which she had no training. Her husband of five years had left her with no financial resources, and she needed to find employment. Six generations of her family, including an uncle in Atlanta, [Charles Ellis Choate, one of Georgia’s most prolific architects in his lifetime] had been architects. She joined a Macon firm as an apprentice and remained there for the next six years, as she managed both office and child-rearing duties. During that time League also took correspondence courses from the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in New York City.

*- Travels through Troup County: A Guide to its Architecture and History dates the house to 1916, but I believe this to have been an oversight.

 

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Filed under --TROUP COUNTY GA--, LaGrange GA

Sparta Female Model School Dormitory, Circa 1815 & 1832

The Sparta Female Academy was established in 1832 by Sereno Taylor of Vermont. [Various sources also refer to it as the Taylor Female Academy, Sparta Female College, and Sparta Female Seminary]. It was supported by the Baptists. This and another renovated dormitory are all that survive of the historic boarding school. A preliminary evaluation by architect Brandy Morrison suggests that the rear section of this house is the earliest, circa 1815, with the front being added circa 1831.

After many years of neglect, the structure is finally getting some much-needed attention. Amber Rhea and Stacia Smith initiated a process of preservation in early 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has halted progress but Rhea and Smith are determined to see it through, whatever that entails.

A broadside dating to 8 December 1838 heralds the school’s reorganization and an enlargement of the course of study. The seven disciplines: Language; Mathematics; Cosmics; History; Geotics; Government; and Philosophy. Sereno Taylor was superintendent and a teacher in the Literary and Musical Departments. Five assistants were on staff, as well, with the expected arrival, in early 1839, of Madame Salmon Hantute of Paris, for the teaching of the French Language, Piano Forte, and Singing.

Annual tuition varied, dependent upon the level of instruction. It ranged from $25 for primary instruction to $125 for collegiate instruction. Musical instrument training was also on order, beginning with the piano forte, advancing to guitar, harp, and finally, organ.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--, Sparta GA

Winder Woman’s Clubhouse, 1930

This structure was built by the Winder Woman’s Club and is still used as a clubhouse, 90 years later. The organization was founded in 1920.

Athens-Candler-Church Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --BARROW COUNTY GA--, Winder GA

Mauldin House, Circa 1880, Clarkesville

This Folk Victorian house was built by A. M. Mauldin. It stayed in the family for over a century and after Mr. Mauldin’s death, his daughter-in-law operated a millinery shop on the property. It now serves as Clarkesville’s Visitors Center.

National Register of Historic Places

 

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

Demorest Women’s Club, 1902 & 1954

Built as the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1902, this structure was significantly altered upon its acquisition by the Demorest Women’s Club in 1954. [The National Register designation is for the Women’s Club, not the church]. Besides the removal of the steeple and chimneys, the interior and foundation were also modified to fit the needs of the club. The Demorest Women’s Club was founded in 1934 and for many years held meetings in member’s homes. Evie Gillespie initiated the effort to acquire the church building after the Men’s Civic Club turned it down, citing it was too dilapidated.

An interesting footnote: Mayling Soone Chiang, who became Madame Chiang Kai-shek, was hosted by a member of the Methodist Church while she was in eighth grade in 1909-1910. Madame Chiang Kai-shek attended services and Sunday School here.

National Register of Historic Places

 

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

Ayers-Little Boarding House, Circa 1840 & 1885, Carnesville

The first part of this house was built circa 1840 as a residence and tavern and in 1860 was purchased by Jeremiah Ayers. He joined the original part of the house and  an adjacent post office with a breezeway. Ayers was a merchant and tanner and upon his death in 1885 his widow Louisa and their daughter Lizzie began taking in boarders to help support themselves. They lived in the basement and rented the upper rooms. Lizzie married Robert Little in 1901. They raised their children here and continued to take in boarders. Around 1930 they renovated and slightly expanded the boarding house and opened a coffee shop in the dining room. After Mr. Little’s death in 1943, Lizzie continued operating the business. In 1949, she became editor of the Carnesville Herald. She died in 1963.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --FRANKLIN COUNTY GA--, Carnesville GA

Carnegie Library, 1911, Lavonia

In March 1909, the Lavonia Woman’s Club sought funding from Andrew Carnegie and the approval of a town council for the construction of a library. Carnegie pledged $5000 for the construction and the council promised $500 per year for the purchase of books and upkeep for ten years. petitioned Mr. Andrew Carnegie and the town council for the erection of a building to house what would eventually become known as a library. Mr. Carnegie granted $5,000 for erection of a building with the council providing $500 a year for ten years for books and upkeep. The facility, now part of the Athens Regional Library, still serves the city.

National Register of Historic Places

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

Boneville School, 1920, McDuffie County

Frankye Crawford writes: My twin Aunts Ruby and Ruth Johnson taught school here and piano lessons in the 1920’s. Later it became The Home Demonstration Club and after that it was used for the church children’s Sunday School Classes. I attended this Church for a long time Boneville will always be home to me.

 

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Filed under --McDUFFIE COUNTY GA--, Boneville GA