Antioch Baptist Church, 1911, Lithonia

Established by a group of Freedmen in 1869, Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church [known originally as Antioch Baptist Church] is thought to be the oldest African-American congregation in Lithonia and DeKalb County. The church first met in a brush arbor and built their first permanent structure circa 1871. It was replaced by this structure, clad in local stone, in 1911, and served the congregation until 2004, when a larger facility was built at another location.

Reverend Adam Daniel Williams, the maternal grandfather of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., served the congregation at one time.

Lithonia Historic District, National Register of Historic Places & Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Lyon Farm, 1820s, DeKalb County

Side view of Lyon House, showing attached kitchen and restored smokehouse

The house pictured above originated as a log cabin, built by Joseph Emmanuel Lyon in the 1820s. It was expanded in 1853 and again in 1893, when it took on its present appearance. It is one of the oldest houses in DeKalb County and Lyon family descendants remained on the property until 2007. Slaves from the early days of the farm remained in the area and later established the Flat Rock community nearby.

Front Elevation

The house is reminiscent of the Plantation Plain style, but with two bays on one side and one bay on the other, is a bit unusual in its layout.

Gate posts

The gateposts are local granite, as are the boundary stones and flower bed areas.

Raised flower bed

Grape arbors were common features of many farms; this one was likely added in the 20th century.

Grape arbor

The historic smokehouse, thought to be the oldest overall structure on the farm, was recently restored.

Lyon smokehouse

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

T. A. Bryant, Sr., Homestead, 1917, Flat Rock

Bryant Farmhouse

A thriving community of African-Americans existed around Arabia Mountain in the years following the Civil War, but by the early 20th century, a mass exodus saw many families joining the Great Migration in search of better conditions in the North.

Mule & Storage Barn

There were a few communities, such as Flat Rock, that continued to thrive. T. A. Bryant, Sr., born in 1894, was a leader of this community, his church, and a Master Mason, and he worked hard to keep it intact.

T. A. Bryant, Sr. Photograph Courtesy Flat Rock Archives

He bought his first 43 acres from J. W. South, a descendant of slave owners, in 1925, and saved the Flat Rock community in the process. For over 60 years, Mr. Bryant bought and sold land to people in the community in an effort to keep it intact. Flat Rock actually grew during the Great Migrations, while many historic African-American communities completely vanished.

Smokehouse or Corn Crib

His small working homestead was self-sufficient and typical of similar farms in early 20th century Georgia.

Privy

The property is now home to the Flat Rock Archives, a museum of local African-American history, and open by appointment.

Watering Trough

Maps will locate this at Stonecrest, a recently incorporated city in DeKalb County, but as with other such locations in Vanishing Georgia, I prefer to help keep the historical name alive, hence my location of the Bryant property at Flat Rock.

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

S. B. Vaughters Dairy Barn, 1947, DeKalb County

DeKalb County was still largely rural and one of the leading dairy counties in Georgia in 1947 when S. B. Vaughters built this barn to house Jersey cows at his farm, one of the most successful in the area. It later housed Angus cattle and horses, before being sold to the state for perpetual preservation in 2002. Restored in 2018, the barn is located on Panola Mountain State Park and is part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Dial Mill, Circa 1830, Rockdale County

Allen Summers built the three-story hand-hewn structure known today as Dial Mill after purchasing three fractional lots at a public auction in the 1820s. It was one of the first commercial mills to be built in this region. The property is bounded by the historic Hightower (Etowah) Trail to the north and Little Haynes Creek to the east. Though the traditional date of construction is believed to be circa 1830, Summers may have begun construction of the mill earlier. Oral tradition has suggested that the dam for the mill was complete before 1830. Summers died in 1845 and the property was deeded to his son, James M. Summers, by his wife. The younger Summers leased the property to John Wells and William Puckett, with later assistance in the operation of the mill being provided by William’s brother, Pleasant Puckett. Pleasant’s wife Winnie is said to have protected the mill from Union troops during the Civil War.

In 1875, James M. Summers sold the mill to E. B. Rosser, who made a great success of the operation. In 1898, metal rollers replaced the grinding stones and the mill became known as Princeton Roller Mills [Princeton was in reference to the community which grew up around the mill]. In 1909, the mill was sold to George Dial and Sons, and though they only owned it for nine years, the name Dial Mill remains in use to this day. The Fowler family owned it from 1918-1942, and it was sold to the Costley Brothers , who owned it until 1964.

The mill is presently in need of stabilization.

National Register of Historic Places

Water Tower, 1914, Milstead

This water tower supplied the mill village of Milstead. It reaches a height of 100 feet and is 14 feet in diameter. It was built by contractor J. B. McQuary for $3000 and was used until 1965.

Granite-Clad Commercial Block, 1930, Conyers

Conyers Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Rockdale County Jail, 1897, Conyers

This jail was built in 1897 to replace the first jail in Rockdale County and served the county until 1968. It was designed by Georgia’s most prolific courthouse architect, J. W. Golucke, while he was in partnership with G. W. Stewart. The interior was outfitted by the Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company of St. Louis. F. P. Heifner was the contractor.

The old jail was restored by the Rockdale County Historical Society in 1975 and serves as their headquarters and a museum today.

National Register of Historic Places

Almand-O’Kelley-Walker House, 1870, Conyers

This highly stylized Folk Victorian cottage was built for John Henry Almand (4 January 1846-29 July 1918) in the year of Rockdale County’s creation and the designation of Conyers as its county seat. John Henry Almand was the treasurer of the first county board of education, a county commissioner, and a founder of the Bank of Rockdale. His cousin, and the builder of the house, John Floyd Almand, lived here for several years, after John Henry Almand moved to another house “closer to town”. Thomas Dean O’ Kelley purchased the home in 1884, and his descendants, the Walkers, lived here until 1992.

National Register of Historic Places

Eclectic House, 1882, Conyers

This recently restored Conyers landmark features distinct styles. The street entrance, seen above, has a Greek Revival appearance, while the rear wing has Folk Victorian elements.

Conyers Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places