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.
Tag Archives: North Georgia Ghost Towns
Though it’s been closed for a few years now, the Greshamville Mall is still a landmark for travelers in the area. While the name was a bit tongue-in-cheek, it was the closest thing the tiny hamlet of Greshamville had to a one-stop shopping center. It was built by the late Pete Yearwood, a World War II veteran who ran a dairy, had chicken houses and sold real estate. He sold the business in the mid-1980s.
Columbia County was created in 1790. The area was settled by Daniel Marshall and the Baptists in 1772. The dead town of Cobbham served briefly as the first county seat, followed by Kiokee, near the Savannah River. Because Kiokee was considered too far from much of the population to be a practical site, William Appling offered land for a new county seat and it was named in his honor. The first courthouse in Appling was built around 1793, followed by a more suitable structure in 1812. It served until the construction of the present courthouse in 1856.
Columbia County is perhaps unique in Georgia in that it has essentially two county seats. By the 1970s, this courthouse was in a bad state of deterioration. Since the county was in the midst of a population boom and the majority of the population was clustered near Evans, the Appling courthouse was no longer adequate for housing all the offices of local government. Around 1980 a new Columbia County Government Center was constructed in Evans, with additional facilities following in the 1990s. Most functions of local government are now carried out there, while a few offices are maintained in this historic antebellum courthouse. Some court proceedings are still held here, making it the oldest courthouse in the state still in use.
National Register of Historic Places
Most often referred to today as the Villanow General Store, this structure of handmade brick sourced at the site began operations around 1840 and has had numerous owners over years. It’s among the oldest extant stores in Georgia. The only one I know of that’s older, in fact, is the Brick Store in Newton County.
It also housed the Villanow post office for many years, the Odd Fellows lodge, and even the Justice of the Peace. The community was known as Sunset at the time it was constructed. Roland Kinsey and William D. Underwood were two of the first owners of the store, though it has historically been associated with Joseph Warren Cavender (1845-1919). Cavender, who had served as postmaster and mayor of Villanow in the 1870s and 1890s, owned the store until his death, but had at least one partner in the business, James Harvey Shahan (1868-1949). Owners who followed over the years include Claude Clements, Dr. J. A. Shields, M. Gordon Keown, J. C. Phillips, Otto Morgan, Roy Morgan, Ottis Poarch, O. H. “Doc” Penland, and Rodney Edwards. Mr. Edwards was instrumental in helping save the store when a four-lane highway was proposed through the community.
I had a nice visit with Dr. Michael Kisner who moved his chiropractic office into the store in 2015. His wife Deborah has roots in the area and the couple are happy to have been able to save such a landmark. They’ve done extensive work on the structure, retaining as many of its original features as possible.
National Register of Historic Places