Tag Archives: National Register of Historic Places

Rockville Academy, 1889, Putnam County

Believed to be the first ‘consolidation academy’ in Georgia, Rockville was built as a one-story schoolhouse in 1889 and opened in January 1890. Consolidation academies grew out of a state directive to close numerous rural schools that had sprung up every few miles and consolidate the students into a centrally located ‘district’ school.

The academy was supported by the local Farmers Alliance and built on land donated by Henry DeJarnette, who served as chairman of the Board of Trustees tasked with locating and building the school. The first class consisted of 65 students and nine grades but grew rapidly. As a result, the structure was expanded and the second floor added in 1911. A tenth grade was added at this time. Much of the work was done by students in the academy’s progressive vocational program, said to be the first in the state.

Frank Branch, who served as Rockville’s first regular headmaster, was associated with the school for 22 years, later serving as president of Andrew College, the Georgia State College for Men in Tifton, and South Georgia College in McRae.

The economic woes of the 1920s and 1930s led to the decline of the community and school. In 1944, Rockville Academy closed. The property was restored by former students and descendants in recent years and they continue to maintain it.

Rockville Academy and St. Paul Methodist Church Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --PUTNAM COUNTY GA--, Rockville GA

John S. Jackson House, Circa 1850, Hancock County

This imposing Greek Revival plantation home, situated on a high point overlooking acres of gently rolling hills and pristine farmland, was built by William Jackson for his son, John Swinney Jackson and his first wife, Artemesia Hall. The elder Jackson acquired the property from William Knowles in 1832. John Jackson, who had lived all of his life in Hancock and Greene Counties developed the property, through slave labor, into a thriving agricultural operation. At the outset of the Civil War, Jackson owned over 1000 acres and 38 enslaved Africans. Like most Georgians, Jackson served the Confederate cause and the futile effort ended in his loss of the plantation. It was purchased by Robert M. Grimes in 1870 who sold it to James M. Harris in 1874. Grimes reacquired it in 1880, but after a lawsuit over debts sold it back to Harris in 1881. Harris sold it to Henry Thomas Lewis in 1900. Lewis was an Associate Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court who lived in Greensboro and Siloam, keeping the plantation as a country retreat. After Lewis’s death, his widow sold the plantation to Jeff W. N. Lanier, whose family owned neighboring lands. Subsequent owners were D. B. Taylor and Dorsey L. Campbell. Campbell’s daughter, Alice Hartley, deeded the house back to the Lanier family in 1982.

The property is known today as Shoulderbone Plantation, for the historical Shoulderbone Creek which runs nearby.

National Register of Historic Places

 

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--

Springfield Baptist Church, Circa 1907, Greensboro

An historic marker placed by the church and the Georgia Historical Society in 2010 states: Springfield Baptist Church was established on January 27, 1864 prior to the abolition of slavery, and is among the first African-American churches founded in Middle Georgia. Enslaved workers purchased land from Mrs. Nancy Bickers and began monthly meetings. Levi Thornton, a slave, served as the church’s first pastor. Prior to the Civil War most local congregations were racially integrated, though blacks and whites sat separately. However in 1867 African Americans were dismissed from local congregations. At their dismissal, the white congregations presented Springfield with $200 to help build the current building…

Henry Porter, Frank Massey, Umply Stocks, and Jack Terrell were instrumental in the organization of the church. The congregation first met in the old Georgia Railroad depot in Greensboro. To my understanding, construction of the present structure commenced in 1907 and the bricks were salvaged from the old Greensboro Methodist Church.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --GREENE COUNTY GA--, Greensboro GA

Old Gaol, 1807, Greensboro

The oldest masonry jail in Georgia, Greensboro’s ‘Old Gaol’ is distinguished by its English spelling, which seems fitting considering the structure’s appearance. Locally quarried granite was used in construction, which was patterned after European citadels known for their harsh conditions. The downstairs cells were dark and catacomb-like, reserved for particularly unsavory characters. Such prisoners were chained to the walls with absolutely no creature comforts, including heat or ventilation. Non-violent criminals were placed upstairs, where conditions weren’t much better, but at least allowed for outside light. A trap-door gallows is also present. The jail served Greene County until 1895, when a more modern jail was constructed.

Greensboro Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --GREENE COUNTY GA--, Greensboro GA

Old Greene County Jail, 1895, Greensboro

Within the same block in Greensboro are two historic jails, this being the ‘newer’ of the two. This Folk Victorian/Queen Anne example is typical of Georgia jails of the era, in which the sheriff kept a residence and everything was self-contained. It is now known as the L. L. Wyatt Museum, named in honor of the longtime Greene County Sheriff.

The historic marker on this site notes: This 1895 jail is named for the legendary Sheriff, Loy Lee Wyatt, who enforced the laws in Greene County for fifty-two years until his death in 1977. Sheriff L.L. Wyatt was born on January 2, 1904, in Paulding County. He was recruited to serve the citizens of Greene County due to his fast legs and honest reputation. In 1925, L.L. Wyatt began his law enforcement career as a Greene County policeman who waged a “one-man war” against the making of illegal corn whiskey. Prior to his arrival, moonshine production was considered the leading industry in Greene County and its produce was enjoyed in all of the finest hotels of Atlanta. After having rid the County of its moonshiners, Wyatt ran for the Office of Sheriff in 1940 defeating the incumbent. He served as Sheriff until he died in 1977. At the time of his death he was the longest standing Sheriff in the State, with thirty-seven years of service.

During his 37 years as Sheriff, Wyatt became a legend in his own time. Few men become legends and even fewer achieve the status of a “living legend” as did Sheriff Wyatt. He was a religious man who believed that God blessed him with protection during all of his fights, gun battles, and dangerous encounters. His law enforcement exploits exposed him to at least five gunshot wounds in the line of duty, in part due to the fact that he seldom carried a gun on his person, requiring him to retrieve it from his car at the sight of danger. In the early days of his career, when moonshiners resisted arrest, Wyatt regularly shot it out with them. He killed over a half dozen men, all of whom shot at him first.

The most famous gunfight of Sheriff Wyatt’s career occurred in 1974. He was 70 years old at the time. Bank robbers eluded a 100-car police chase that started in Wrens, Georgia, and ended in Greene County. The bank robbers had killed a teller at the bank in Wrens and had taken two women hostage. Sheriff Wyatt set up a road block midway between Union Point and Greensboro. Wyatt stood in the middle of the road as the speeding car approached. The robbers attempted to shoot him, but the gun misfired. One bank robber was killed in the ensuing battle, but both women were unharmed. Sheriff Wyatt subsequently received the award of the Peace Officer of he Year for his bravery in this incident.

Sheriff Wyatt was a family man, devoted to his wife, son, and grandchildren. He was a businessman, lending his experience to the operation and affairs of the Citizens Union Bank as a director. He was a community leader who had concern for all citizens – rich and poor, black and white. Out of a concern for these people, legend has it that Sheriff Wyatt confronted a notorious member of the Dixie Mafia and proclaimed, “These are my people and I want you to leave them alone!”

Sheriff Wyatt, also known as Mr. Sheriff, was the epitome of a community oriented police officer long before such an idea was born and served as an example for every officer to follow.

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Greensboro Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

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Filed under --GREENE COUNTY GA--, Greensboro GA

Bellheart, Circa 1810, Greensboro

Tax records (which aren’t always reliable) indicate this was constructed circa 1810, though later surveys by preservationists have dated it circa 1850 and 1860. There do seem to be hints of Federal origins, supporting the earlier date, but I will have to do more research.

North Street-East Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --GREENE COUNTY GA--, Greensboro GA

Bethesda Baptist Church, 1818, Greene County

Bethesda Baptist is one of the iconic rural churches of Georgia and one of the greatest extant examples of vernacular Federal architecture in the state. The congregation traces its origins to 1785, when it was organized as Whatley’s Mill. The first structure was of wooden frame construction. Notably, Bethesda is among the oldest Baptist congregations in the state and the present structure one of the oldest surviving church buildings. The most influential Baptist of early 19th-century Georgia, Jesse Mercer, performed the dedication on 20 December 1818. In what would seem progressive by today’s standards, they licensed an African-American called Brother Sam to minister to members of his race in 1834 in a separate monthly service but revoked the right in 1836 over claims of “disorder”. Enslaved people of the community were required to attend church with their owners and the remains of the gallery are still visible in the church.

Bethesda is located in a rural area of Greene County near the South Fork of Little River on land given by Samuel Whatley. The original name of the congregation, Whatley’s Mill, honored his parents, who were killed by Native Americans trying to protect their lands from the white men. Silas Mercer was the first pastor and his son Jesse Mercer became pastor in 1796, serving for thirty years. The name was changed from Whatley’s Mill to Bethesda just before the dedication of the present church building in 1818. It remains a thriving congregation to this day.

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Filed under --GREENE COUNTY GA--