Tag Archives: Slavery in North Georgia

Rockwell, Circa 1838, Milledgeville

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

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Filed under --BALDWIN COUNTY GA--, Milledgeville GA

Uncle Remus Museum, 1963, Eatonton

Constructed from derelict slave cabins, the Uncle Remus Museum opened in Eatonton in 1963. Its location, Turner Park, was the boyhood homeplace of Joseph Sidney Turner, the inspiration for the “little boy” to whom “Uncle Remus” relayed all his critter stories in Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings (1880) and later works. Turner’s father, Joseph Addison Turner, owned Turnwold Plantation where Harris apprenticed as a teenager during the Civil War. A reconstructed blacksmith shop is also located in the park.

Carvings of many of the animal characters populate the grounds, which are a delight to walk around. I’m not sure who did all of these wonderful wood sculptures, but they’re a wonderful addition to the property. And forgive me if I confuse Bre’r Fox and Bre’r Wolf!

Bre’r Fox

Bre’r Wolf

Bre’r Bear

Bre’r Tarrypin

And last, but certainly not least, Bre’r Rabbit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under --PUTNAM COUNTY GA--, Eatonton GA

Indian Spring Hotel, 1823, Butts County

The first section of the Indian Spring Hotel was built as an inn by William McIntosh, who operated it with his cousin Joel Bailey. McIntosh, a half-Scot half-Native American and the cousin of Governor George M. Troup, was Chief of the Coweta band of Creek Indians; he was also the owner of over 70 slaves. The two-story addition which gave the hotel its present appearance was completed in 1825, the year McIntosh signed the Treaty of Indian Springs, ceding much of the historically Creek lands to white settlers. His role in this treaty, viewed unfavorably by a majority of Creeks, lead to McIntosh’s subsequent execution. The addition included a tavern known as the Treaty Room and a large ballroom. Significantly, the McIntosh Inn is  the only known antebellum mineral springs hotel still standing in Georgia. Mineral springs resorts were as popular in Georgia in the 19th century as coastal resorts are in the modern era. In 1850, the property was purchased by the Varner family, who owned and operated it as the Varner House, a nationally famous resort. The Varner descendants sold it to J. H. Elliot in 1953. Today, the Indian Spring Hotel/Museum is open on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --BUTTS COUNTY GA--, Flovilla GA, Indian Springs GA

The President’s House, Circa 1856, Athens

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

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Filed under Athens GA

T. R. R. Cobb House, Circa 1834 & 1852, Athens

The T. R. R. Cobb House is one of Georgia’s great preservation success stories. It is thought that Thomas H. McKinley built the original section as a Plantation Plain circa 1834. Georgia’s first Chief Justice, Joseph Henry Lumpkin, bought it from McKinley in 1842 and gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter Marion and son-in-law Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb in 1844. The portico and octagonal wings were added in 1852.

Cobb served as reporter of the State Supreme Court from 1849-1857, founded the Lucy Cobb Institute in 1858, and with his father-in-law and William H. Hull founded the School of Law at the University of Georgia in 1859. One of the leading advocates of slavery and secession, he was killed at Fredericksburg in 1862. Marion lived in the house until 1873. It was later a rental property, fraternity house, and boarding house. In 1962, it was purchased by the Archdiocese of Atlanta for the use of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Threatened with demolition in the 1980s, it was moved to Stone Mountain Park in 1985. It was never restored or used by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association due to budgetary constraints. Thanks to efforts of the Watson-Brown Foundation, Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the landmark was returned to Athens in 2005. The Watson-Brown Foundation oversaw restoration of the house, which is now a museum.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --CLARKE COUNTY GA--, Athens GA

Holt-Peeler-Snow House, 1840, Macon

Built for Judge Thaddeus Goode Holt by Elam Alexander, this is one of the finest Greek Revival houses in Macon. Judge Holt was one of the most prominent citizens of early Macon, accompanying the Marquis de LaFayette on his 1825 visit at the behest of the governor. In addition to serving as Judge of the County Court, he also served on the city council and was involved in numerous business pursuits. Judge Holt’s son, Thaddeus, Jr., served in several Confederate military units and was also Judge of the County Court. His granddaughter, Nanaline Holt, first married Will Inman, of the prominent Atlanta family, and later married the tobacco magnate James Buchanan Duke. They were the parents of Doris Duke. Numerous owners followed, including: Joseph Dannenberg; E. L. Martin; Leon I. Dure; Amp Peeler; and William A. Snow, Jr.

It appears to be in a state of decline at this time.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --BIBB COUNTY GA--, Macon GA

Gordon-Lee Mansion, 1847, Chickamauga

James Gordon and his two brothers came to Chickamauga, then known as Crawfish Springs, from Gwinnett County in 1836.  In 1840, James began construction of this home (employing slave labor and using bricks made on site) to serve as the centerpiece of his 2500-acre plantation. The site was of local importance, as the Cherokee Courthouse was located on the grounds prior to displacement. [It was originally executed in the Greek Revival style; the addition of the massive portico and entablature in a 1900 remodel gave it its present Neoclassical appearance].

Gordon’s son Clark was elected commanding officer of Company D, First Georgia Volunteer Infantry, organized in 1862. During the Battle of Chickamauga the home served as temporary headquarters of Union Major General William Rosecrans, Army of the Cumberland (16-19 September 1863). It also served as a field hospital (18-20 September 1863) under the command of Medical Surgeon R. G. Bogue, treating both Union and Confederate casualties. In 1889, 14,000 veterans of the battle held a reunion on the grounds known as the Blue-Gray Barbeque. The idea to establish the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park had its origins at the barbeque, significantly the first Civil War park in the United States to be protected through preservation.

Upon the death of James and Sarah Gordon, the home passed to their daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, James Lee. The next owner was their son, Gordon Lee, a United States Congressman (1904-1927), and his wife, Olive. Lee stipulated in his will that if no family member took on the property for twenty years that it would become the property of the City of Chickamauga and this happened in 1947.  It was sold to Dr. Frank Green in 1974. Dr. Green restored the house and grounds with great attention to historical accuracy. In 2007 it was purchased by the City of Chickamauga, which now operates a museum on the site.

This saddlebag house is the last surviving of six slave dwellings on the property.

Even if you don’t have the time to visit all the Civil War sites in the area, take the time to walk the wonderful grounds of the Gordon-Lee Mansion. Operated by the Friends of the Gordon-Lee Mansion in conjunction with the City of Chickamauga, it’s a wonderful green space and historic site.

National Register of Historic Places

 

 

 

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Filed under --WALKER COUNTY GA--, Chickamauga GA