This marvelous structure originated as a Federal I-House and was likely begun much earlier than the given date of circa 1830. Some have suggested that it was the second house ever built in Hamilton, but that needs further substantiation. Its earliest known owner was Williamson Switzer, Judge of the Inferior Court of Harris County from 1833-37. Switzer was among the most prominent citizens of Harris County in his day and was instrumental in the establishment of the poor asylum in the county in 1835. Later owners were Porter Ingram and William Irby Hudson, a Georgia state legislator and senator.
Tag Archives: North Georgia Politicians
According to the 1973 nomination form which added this property to the National Register of Historic Places: Construction of the house began in 1828. It is an amalgamation of two two-story…houses to which was added a mid-19th century portico and several 2oth century rooms…[the house] is an example of what happened to vernacular architecture in Georgia as a family and its needs and stylistic wants grew and changed…
The house is also known as the Towns-Persons-Page House. After Towns left the governorship and moved to Macon [circa 1852], the house was sold to the Persons family, who occupied it until 1968, when it was purchased by the Gary Page family.
George Washington Bonaparte Towns (1801-1854) was born in Wilkes County, though his family soon moved to Greene County, and then on to Morgan County. He moved to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1821, and operated a pub while studying law. He was admitted to the bar in 1824. He also briefly owned a newspaper, the Alabama Journal. His first marriage, to Margaret Jane Campbell in 1826, ended tragically. His bride, who had been in poor health, died just a few days after the ceremony. [He married Margaret Winston Jones of Virginia in 1838].
Towns moved to Talbotton in 1828 and served as one of its first commissioners. He was also one of the first attorneys in the new town, owning a very successful practice. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1829 and 1830. He served in the state senate from 1832-1834. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1835 but resigned in 1836 over concerns that the legislature might be forced to pick a Whig as President in the upcoming election. Instead, a Whig won Towns’s seat, but he successfully won re-election to the seat in 1837 and served until 1839. He continued to practice law and served one more term in Congress, in 1846, but lost re-election to John W. Jones, a Whig.
In 1847, Towns was elected governor of Georgia in a highly contested race against the Whig candidate, Duncan L. Clinch. He served until 1851 and died in Macon in 1854.
National Register of Historic Places
I’m unsure who built this house, but it was purchased in 1851 by Isaiah Tucker Irvin, a member of the State House of Representatives. He died in 1860 off the coast of Galveston, Texas, when a ship he was traveling on exploded. The Wilkes Guard, which he commanded, changed its name to the Irvin Guards in his memory. The home was purchased by Oliver S. Dyson, founder of Wilkes Telephone Company, in 1934, and has been associated with the family for many years.
East Robert Toombs Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Built for James H. R. Washington, an early Macon mayor, this house was relocated from its original College Street location on the property of the Washington Memorial Library in the 1970s. It stands today as a good reminder of the power of community involvement in the preservation of historic architecture.
Macon Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
West End, one of the finest Italianate houses in Georgia, was built by Colonel James Hall Nichols (1834-1897) upon his arrival in the Nacoochee Valley from Milledgeville in 1870. Nichols, who married Kate Latimer of Summerville, South Carolina, in 1856, served in the Confederate Army and was elected captain of the Governor’s Horse Guard in 1862, eventually attaining the rank of colonel. When he returned to Middle Georgia after the war, weak and in declining health, he learned that his wife Kate S. Latimer Nichols had been raped by two Union soldiers. This would affect her mental state for the rest of her life. While convalescing at the White Sulphur Springs Resort near Gainesville, Colonel Nichols became enamored of the Nacoochee Valley and began purchasing large tracts of land in the area. He named the property and house West End, for its location in the valley. Nichols was primarily a gentleman farmer by this time and owned several businesses, including Nora Mill. The mentally incapacitated Kate was lived out her days in an upstairs room, unwilling to face the outside world. Anna Ruby, the only child of the Nichols to live to adulthood and namesake of the nearby Anna Ruby Falls, told friends her mother was dead, as to deny her existence and her mental illness. Colonel Nichols had her committed to the State Lunatic Asylum in the early 1890s and she remained there until her death.
Original section of the Unicoi Turnpike, located near the main house
The property was sold to Atlanta entrepreneur Calvin Welborn Hunnicutt (1827-1915) in 1893. Hunnicutt, also a Confederate veteran (organized the Fulton Dragoons) and Fulton County commissioner, was a very successful businessman in postwar Atlanta, owning a plumbing business and stove works. The family never lived in West End but kept it as a retreat and vacation home. The Atlanta Constitution called him Atlanta’s oldest pioneer citizen upon his death. He had been in the city since 1847, when it was still a small village known as Marthasville.
The final owner of the West End property was Dr. Lamartine Griffin Hardman (1856-1937) who purchased it in 1903 and renamed it Elizabeth on the Chattahoochee, in honor of his mother. Hardman was the the son of a physician and a longtime physician himself who was also involved in numerous successful businesses. He joined his father’s practice in 1890 after study in New York, Pennsylvania, and London. He came to the Nacoochee Valley from Harmony Grove (present-day Commerce) and within a few years married the much younger Emma Griffin of Valdosta, whom he had courted for many years. He served in the Georgia House for eight years and sponsored a bill that created the State Board of Health. He also served for a year in the Georgia Senate and then made two unsuccessful runs for governor. He was finally elected to the state’s highest office in 1927 and served two terms.
Servants’ quarters and smokehouse
Dairy Barn, built 1910 as the centerpiece of Dr. Hardman’s Nacoochee Dairy
Corn Crib No. 1, built in the 1870s
Corn Crib No. 2
Gear House, where riding gear was kept for convenience. A covered 8-foot-deep cistern was discovered during renovation, and was probably originally used to collect water for the farm’s horses.
Caretaker’s House (Minish Family Home)
Nacoochee Valley Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Samuel Ernest Vandiver, Jr., (1918-2005) who was born in nearby Canon, served as Georgia’s 73rd governor from 1959-1963. During his administration, the archaic county unit system that gave local political bosses vast power, was ended. This was seen as a step forward for Georgia but angered many of its beneficiaries. Honesty and fiscal responsibility were hallmarks of Governor Vandiver’s term. After leaving the governor’s office, he practiced law, first in Atlanta and then back in Lavonia. His wife, Betty, was a niece of U. S. Senator Richard B. Russell.
Built in the early 1820s for Dr. William Terrell (1778-1855), this remarkable Federal house displays a strong Palladian influence. A front porch extending the width of the house was removed during renovations but was likely not original to the structure.
A stone-sided kitchen survives on the property, as does an office said to originally have been a billiard house [below]. Obviously, it was built in the Victorian era and the side room is a later addition.
Dr. Terrell was a leading citizen in early-19th-century Sparta, serving in the Georgia legislature and later as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives. He was the founder and first president of the Sparta Planters Club, an agricultural and social consortium of prominent landowners which aimed to improve farming practices. He endowed the first serious chair of agriculture in the United States at the University of Georgia. Terrell County in Southwest Georgia is named for him.
Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
This house is perhaps the most enigmatic in Milledgeville, due largely to its present derelict appearance. [It’s apparently more stable than the grounds would suggest]. Built by Joseph Lane for Samuel Rockwell (1788-1842), the house has also been known over time as Beauvoir and the Governor Johnson House. Rockwell, a native of Albany, New York, first practiced law in Savannah before establishing a practice in Milledgeville around 1828. He served as Inspector of the 3rd Division during the Creek Indian War of 1836.
Closely related, stylistically, to the Milledgeville Federal houses, Rockwell is more highly realized in form.
Among numerous owners throughout the history of the property, Governor Herschel Vespasian Johnson was perhaps its best known resident. As the commemorative slab of Georgia granite placed by the WPA and the UDC in 1936 notes, it was his summer home. Governor Johnson was notably the state’s most vocal opponent to secession but eventually came around, as borne out by the acquiescent quote, no doubt chosen by the UDC: “To Georgia, in my judgement, I owe primary allegiance.”
The house was documented by photographer L. D. Andrew for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in 1936, owned by the Ennis family at the time. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.
Thanks to Michael Massey for bringing this house to my attention.
National Register of Historic Places
This landmark of the Greek Revival was built by John Thomas Grant, who later sold it to Benjamin Harvey Hill. In 1883 it was sold to James White, whose daughter W. F. Bradshaw inherited it upon his death. It was acquired by the Bradley Foundation in Columbus from the Bradshaw estate in the 1940s and in 1949, it was given to the University of Georgia to be used as the president’s house.
National Register of Historic Places