Tag Archives: Lost Structures of North Georgia

Montour Mill House & Store, Circa 1857, Sparta

Montour Mill House, Circa 1857; photographed in 2014. 

When I photographed these forlorn structures in 2014, I felt they had an important history but also realized they probably didn’t have a promising future. My fears were confirmed last week when James Woodall reported they had been torn down.


Montour Mill Store, Circa 1857; photographed in 2014.

Further conversation with Karen West and Sistie Hudson highlight their importance and the tragedy of their loss. The structures were apparently the last two survivors of the antebellum Montour Mill village. The mill, chartered in 1857, was anchored by a four-story brick factory building. It was likely devastated by the Civil War and attempted a return to production, but was finished by 1884. The property and village was large enough to have been considered as a location for Georgia Tech in 1883. In Houses of Hancock 1785-1865, John Rozier notes: Even in ruins, the big brick factory was a Sparta landmark until it was taken down in 1951.

Karen West: It was originally a mill store owned and operated by a Jewish immigrant. He wrote 15 articles for the Sparta Ishmaelite about life in Czarist Russia. He extended credit to whoever needed it, regardless of race or religion. So sad to see a piece of Sparta history so disregarded. Hopefully someone has pictures of earlier, happier times for that little store.

Sistie Hudson: I took pictures, too—have admired it since I was a little girl…Jacob Nagurya [also written as Nagiiryn] was a Polish Jew. He was a favorite of Editor Sidney Lewis, hence the articles in the Ishmaelite. He owned the first phonograph in the county and sold them as well. He also served as rabbi for the Jewish Community in Sparta. I remember when there was still a row of mill houses across the street from this store. I am so sad about this loss—I have admired it for over 60 years.

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

Saddlebag Farmhouse, Hancock County

This is the first photo that Anne Chamlee shared with me from her personal archive of backroad  photographs from Middle Georgia, and it’s still my favorite. It really is it, perfectly representative of the all the forgotten places I’ve spent nearly 15 years documenting.

It has been a real honor to get to know Anne and to share her passion for rural architecture and history with all of you. I hope you have enjoyed her photographs as much as I have.

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--

Saddlebag House, Hancock County

This is Anne Chamlee, who has shared so many wonderful photographs of Middle Georgia with me. She had likely just photographed this saddlebag farmhouse when she appeared on the other side of the lens, in 1990.

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--

Dovecote, Baldwin County

Anne Chamlee notes that this dovecote stood on the site of an historic house that burned. She photographed it in 1990 and it’s now gone, as well.

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Filed under --BALDWIN COUNTY GA--

Stevens Pottery Ruins, Baldwin County

Anne Chamlee made these photographs of the abandoned Stevens Pottery mill in August 1990. The rural community was named for the industry that was the largest employer in Baldwin County in the years following the Civil War.

Bill Boyd wrote in the 13 August 1992 edition of the Macon Telegraph: Henry Stevens, who grew up near pottery plants in England, worked his way to America aboard a merchant ship, landed a job as a railroad conductor and arrived in Middle Georgia in 1850. An ambitious and enterprising fellow, Stevens bought a sizable tract of timber land in the southwest corner of Baldwin County in 1854, and he discovered  “an extensive and valuable deposit of fire-clay” according to an 1895 book “Memories of Georgia”.

After putting a sawmill into operation in that area, he built kilns and began to produce the first sewerage pipe ever produced in the South. The plant also turned out pottery and stoneware. During the Civil War, Stevens’s plant produced “knives, shoepegs and Joe Brown pipes” for the confederacy according to the history book. And, because of that General William T. Sherman burned the plant to the ground in 1864. Stevens rebuilt the plant after the war and sold it to his sons in 1876. By the turn of the century, the Stevens plant employed some 300 people and produced only brick.

The late T. L. Wood recalled in a 1984 interview with the Associated Press that Stevens Pottery acquired a reputation as a rough-and-tumble town where shootings and stabbings were commonplace at night and on weekends. “My mother wouldn’t let me go down there when I was a kid.” he said. But when he grew up, Wood, like many residents of Stevens Pottery and Coopers worked there for at least a while, and he remembered the plant as a “dirty, dusty, crude-looking place, (where) the work was hard- hauling brick in wheelbarrows and things like that.” Wood escaped the hard labor in the plant by operating a general store; and getting the town’s post office located in his store. But others stayed with the hard work and long hours, and as late as the 1950s, a person could work all of the overtime he or she wanted as the plant turned out brick for the booming sugar refineries in Cuba.

 

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Filed under --BALDWIN COUNTY GA--, Stevens Pottery GA

Abandoned Federal House, Hancock County

This house is a good example of a locally early Federal style I-House. It likely dated to circa 1800-1820. Anne Chamlee made the photograph in northern Hancock County in March 1991 and the house is believed to be lost. I hope to identify it.

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--

J. T. Jones Grocery, Putnam County

This old country store was photographed in May 1991 by Anne Chamlee. It is presumed to be gone now.

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Filed under --PUTNAM COUNTY GA--

Hall-and-Parlor House, Jones County

Anne Chamlee documented this house to the very end. The photo above was made in 1997, after the house burned; the photo below was made in April 1991, when someone was still living there.

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Filed under --JONES COUNTY GA--

Jordan Chapel A. M. E. Church, Haddock

I’m honored to be able to share this photograph by Anne Chamlee; it will be one of several I plan on publishing here and on Vanishing South Georgia. Earlier this year, Anne reached out to let me know that she appreciated the work I was doing documenting Georgia’s rural architecture and that she had some photographs of her own that I might enjoy seeing. After several back-and-forth emails and some phone conversations, I’m so glad we were able to make a connection. She’s just as intrigued by the architecture of rural Georgia as I am and by the late 1980s was wandering around the backroads of Middle Georgia, photographing the endangered examples that sparked her interest. She’s also a delightful conversationalist, which is a bit of vanishing thing itself these days.

A Sooner by birth, Anne came South with her family just as the Dust Bowl was coming to an end. They wound up in Florida and she eventually met and married a man with roots in Hancock County, Tilmon Chamlee. Tilmon was a rising architect who had a very successful career in the commercial sector. After many years in Florida and then Macon, Anne and Tilmon eventually settled at Lake Sinclair in Baldwin County, where he continued his practice and indulged in his love for flying. He was also a commercial and instrument-rated pilot. Tilmon passed away in 2015 but Anne remains active in the community. After talking with her on the phone a few times, I still cannot believe she’s 85.

Regarding the structure: It was located near Haddock and is no longer extant. The photo dates to July 1988. It’s quite unusual as a church structure but was likely a multi-purpose center for the community. My guess is that the second floor was used for Sunday School and possibly even by a fraternal lodge. I hope to learn more.

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Filed under --JONES COUNTY GA--, Haddock GA

General Store , 1904, Eastville

These ruins are all that remain of the general store in the ghost town of Eastville.

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Filed under --OCONEE COUNTY GA--, Eastville GA