These ruins are all that remain of the general store in the ghost town of Eastville.
Tag Archives: Lost Structures of North Georgia
Photo Courtesy of Lamar Sanders
I’m excited to be able to share this historic photograph of the Science Building of the Mercer Institute, predecessor of Mercer University in Macon. It was graciously shared by Lamar Sanders, who took it in 1970. Almost certainly the work of builder/architect David Demarest, the Greek Revival structure served as the Penfield Village School after Mercer moved to Macon, but was badly damaged by a fire in 1977 and eventually demolished.
Built just after the Civil War, in December 1865, this structure was originally home to Hamilton Lodge #16, Chapter #30, Free & Accepted Masons. Numerous commercial tenants occupied it throughout its history. Lou Brackett sent me an email yesterday and a copy of an article from the Harris County Journal detailing the impending demolition* of the building. According to the article, part of the roof has collapsed, as well as a section of the interior second floor and the city sees it as a potential liability. Once again, demolition by neglect has begotten actual demolition, and history goes with it.
*As of 20 September 2019, the building is being dismantled.
This mural in downtown Jefferson commemorates the Martin Institute, a coeducational center of learning first established as the Jackson County Academy in 1818. The name was changed around 1860 upon the bequest of a large monetary gift by the late Inferior Court Judge William Duncan Martin. The original home of the institute was burned in 1883 and replaced by the structured depicted here in 1886. The school’s reputation reached far beyond Jefferson; U. S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Rucker Lamar was but one of its distinguished alumni. The Institute served the community until 1942, when it was the victim of an arsonist who turned out to be the son of the Jefferson Police Chief.
This iconic general store was most likely built in the 19th century, probably soon after the Civil War; it could be antebellum but I haven’t learned enough about the area to make that connection. It features handmade bricks and an architecture rarely seen today. Though its roof is in ruins, the frame of the structure still seems salvageable.
As of late 2019, most of this structure has collapsed.
The Bowen-Jewell Bag Company first opened a bleachery across from the Central of Georgia Depot in 1909. A cotton mill was added in 1914 and the business was incorporated as the Crystal Springs Bleachery Company. A larger more modern bleachery was constructed in 1923, making the facility one of the largest employers in the region. The main product of the bleachery was printed cotton fabric, primarily in the form of bags. Dan River Mills purchased the business in 1969 and by 1976 had a peak employment of 1200. Downsizing began in 1977 and by 1982, Dan River announced plans to close the facility. In February 1983, former Chickamauga mayor Frank Pierce, Steve Tarvin and Stanley Cunningham purchased the business and saved about 200 jobs. Downsizing continued over the following decades and the business, by now known as the Crystal Springs Print Works, was shuttered in 2013. Even with a reputation as one of the best printers in the business, Crystal Springs is emblematic of the loss of U. S. textile business to China; whether that’s the fault of bureaucratic regulation or cheaper labor remains a topic of debate. Having grown up in a town with hundreds of textile jobs myself, the reason isn’t as important as the loss of a way of life. Chickamauga was unusual in that local investors did their best to keep it afloat, and that deserves some recognition.
The property was sold to a recovery company, which is slowly removing the valuable heart pine floors and other framework, handmade bricks, and salvageable historic fixtures and metal. A residential community is planned for the site in the future.
Lee Roy Hammett was the last owner of this house and loved its history so much he was buried on the grounds. His nephew, whom I talked to while photographing it, notes that it was originally built for the daughter of a member of the Hogan family, namesakes of nearby Hogansville. Unfortunately, prohibitive costs of modernization and toxic material removal have lead to its present condition. Much of the material is being salvaged for use in other projects.
George W. Jenkins, Sr., built Jenkins General Store with hand-cut rock to replace its wood frame predecessor. Jenkins was a successful merchant, drawing shoppers from all over the area to Harris City. The business thrived until the early 1920s, when the boll weevil signaled a collapse of the cotton-based agricultural economy. George, Sr, moved to Atlanta and established a small grocery store, less susceptible to the ups-and-downs of the agricultural economy. In the meantime, his son, George, Jr., graduated from Greenville High School and moved to Florida in 1925 to seek his fortune in real estate. He took a job with Piggly Wiggly, however, and after just a couple of months as a clerk he was promoted to manager. In 1930 he left Piggly Wiggly and opened the first Publix store in Winter Haven. Today, Publix is one of the largest grocery store chains in the nation. I like to think that lessons Mr. Jenkins learned here in Harris City, at his father’s side, helped make him into the successful entrepreneur that he became.
I admire this house every time I’m in Norwood. Sherie Shivers Luffman writes: The “Gothic Revival House” in Norwood, GA, belonged to my grandmother, Lucinda Hill Sisson (Miss Tinnie) and her husband, Edwin Sisson who owned Sisson Mercantile in Norwood for many years. “Miss Tinnie” had two sons by a previous marriage to a Wilkes, and her son, John Wilkes, who was a rural mail carrier, inherited the house. “Miss Tinnie” also had 4 children by her 2nd husband after she became widowed. They were Edwin Sisson, Jr., Jim Sisson, Helen Sisson Cole and my mother, Martha Sisson Shivers.
Update: Charlotte White writes: Unfortunately, this beautiful old home burned to the ground in the Spring of 2019.