Tag Archives: –OGLETHORPE COUNTY GA–

Shaking Rock Park, Lexington

Shaking Rock Park is a fascinating natural area located within the city limits of Lexington is named for a 27-ton rock that could be shaken with one hand while remaining in place, before the elements shifted its balance [likely the 1886 Charleston earthquake]. It still maintains a precarious perch albeit aided today by some sort of mortar.
The random field of mostly egg-shaped granite boulders comes into view at the crest of a fairly low hill and defines the trail to come. It’s a fairly easy walk and other than the presence of large roots in places, has few obstacles.
Archaeological evidence suggests that before European habitation, the site was used by Cherokee and Creek peoples as a campground.

In 1968, Shaking Rock became a public park thanks to the efforts of the Lexington Women’s Club.

Judge Hamilton McWhorter was the last private owner, and three of his heirs, Mrs. Andrew Cobb Erwin, Mrs. Sallie McWhorter, and Thurmond McWhorter, made the public transfer possible.

Depending on where one stands, the namesake rock’s appearance can vary greatly. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with graffiti at the site.

Shaking Rock Park is an excellent natural resource and is free to explore.

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Bush-Turner House, 1840s, Lexington

Like many of Georgia’s historic 19th-century homes, the Bush-Turner House originated as a Plantation Plain. The porch and Victorian details were added circa 1890.

I’m grateful to owner Rick Berry for allowing me to photograph the house. Rick also owns Goodness Grows, a nursery adjacent to the house. If you’re a plant lover and find yourself in Lexington, stop by and check out their amazing stock.

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Lester-Callaway House, Circa 1825, Lexington

The Lester-Callaway (sometimes spelled Calloway) House originated circa 1825 as a simple double-pen I-House and was later modified with simple Victorian details. The architecture has been attributed to Dr. F. J. Robinson.

Lexington Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Lexington Presbyterian Church, 1893, Oglethorpe County

The present home of the Lexington Presbyterian Church dates to 1893, but the congregation is one of Georgia’s most historic, originating with a group of Pennsylvania missionaries who came to the area in 1785 to witness to Native Americans. The early church was formally established on 20 December 1785 about three miles south of the present location by John Newton and was named Beth-Salem.

The congregation has dwindled to just a few members today and upkeep of the church has been difficult as a result. Hopefully, this treasure will be preserved.

Lexington Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Goulding House, Circa 1817, Lexington

The Presbyterian Church had a presence in this area in 1785, before the incorporation of Lexington or the establishment of Oglethorpe County. The missionary spirit which originally brought them to the community perhaps guided Liberty County native Reverend Thomas Goulding (1786-1848) in his creation of the Theological Seminary of the Synod of South Carolina and Georgia at this site in 1828. [The structure was built as Goulding’s home circa 1817, though one source dates it to 1808]. The seminary moved to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1830, and remained under the direction of Reverend Goulding until 1834. The name of the school was changed to Columbia Theological Seminary in 1925, and though it moved to Decatur, Georgia, in 1927, it retains that name to this day. Over nearly two centuries, it has produced numerous prominent social, political, and religious leaders.

Lexington Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Elder Road, Oglethorpe County

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Amis-Elder House, Circa 1805, Oglethorpe County

This Federal/Plantation Plain-style house is an important early example of the form which came to dominate the architecture of the planter class in 19th century Georgia. Significantly, over two centuries, its owners have maintained the house with very few changes to its original state.

This property, near Big Creek, originated as a grant to John Peek which was sold to Joseph Crockett in 1797. In 1810, Crockett sold the property, including the house, to Thomas Amis. Tax evaluations indicate that the house was built between 1797 and 1810. Thomas Amis, Jr., inherited the property upon his father’s death and in 1867 sold it to S. R. Aycock. In 1884, it passed to Aycock’s daughter, Martha Elder, and in 1930, to his grandson, Courtney B. Elder. Mr. Elder, who bought out his siblings’ share of the property, lived here until his death in 1975. Dr. Forest Kellogg was a later owner.

National Register of Historic Places

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Arnold Cotton Gin, Arnoldsville

Local tradition suggests that this gin was built of Georgia granite to replace an earlier frame structure destroyed by a tornado in the early 1900s, though I am unable to confirm this. It was operational until at least the 1950s and was established by Nathaniel (Nat.) Dowdy Arnold (1859-1928), who was the namesake of this small agricultural community. Arnold’s wife was Annie Susan Callaway (1863-1901), from the Callaway Plantation in Wilkes County.

Nathaniel Dowdy Arnold in William J. Northen, Men of Mark in Georgia, Volume VII, A . B. Campbell Publishing, Atlanta, 1912. Public Domain.

The original settlement, dating to the 1770s, was established near an important Native American trading route and was known as Cherokee Corner. By 1811, a sawmill, gin, and general store were present in the community. A Presbyterian minister named Safford operated the Cherokee Corner Academy and until at least the 1840s was involved in the cultivation of silkworm cocoons.

In 1894, local merchant Edwin Shaw established a post office and named the village Edwin after himself. In 1896, Nathaniel D. Arnold bought Shaw’s store and his postal rights and the town became Arnoldsville.

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Maxeys Landmark Lost to Fire

This historic general store in Maxeys was lost to a tragic fire on 16 January 2021. [Thanks to Jennifer W. Newton for sharing the unfortunate news on the Vanishing Georgia Facebook group. My condolences go to the family who lost their loved one in this tragedy]. It was owned by the Vernor family for many years. It was most recently home to Maxeys Country Store and had been converted to dual use as a residence. The cause of the fire is under investigation. I will be updating with more history of the building soon.

Sally Giles wrote: I have many good memories of going into Mr. Vernor’s store in the 70s and 80s and trying on what my mom called “train suits” that looked like they were from the 60s. These were very sensible skirts with matching jackets that you would wear on the train, or later on the bus. Mr. Vernor had ladies gloves that you would have worn to church that were lain perfectly crossed over each in the long glass cabinet just waiting for glove wearing to come back into style. He told me that his wife would order the ladies things, and that he had not bought anything new for the cases since she had passed. Mr Vernor always wore a black suit no matter how hot it was, and the store had no air conditioning. His shirt was a starchy white, buttoned up all the way with no tie. I can remember feeling hotter than I should have just looking at Mr. Vernor in his black suit. Over time there was not much that was really for sale that anyone wanted except myself buying the old clothes, but there were co-colas (all beverages were called co-colas) and crackers that looked kinda old for sale on the rack. I have other memories that I could tell, but won’t.

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Carter House, 1884, Oglethorpe County

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