McRainey House, 1909, Elmodel

Archibald Malcolm McRainey (1866-1914) came to Baker County from North Carolina and made a fortune in the timber and turpentine businesses. The community of Elmodel grew up around these enterprises. The house was designed by architect William Jay.

Update: As of 2019, Miss Effie Holt McRainey, the owner, has passed away, and one of her heirs is restoring the property.


122 thoughts on “McRainey House, 1909, Elmodel

  1. Kimberly

    My great grandmother Retha Wade Hudson was Effie’s bestfriend & lived with her for sometime (I’m not sure when or for how long) but I’ve heard stories from my grandmother & mom when they both stayed in Elmodel. I am so happy I found the home they both lived in. I love finding my family’s history. ❤️

  2. Cindy Richardson

    These old homes tell a story that only they can tell, they’re beautiful, full of history and architecture. If I ever got the money to properly restore a home such as these, I wouldn’t hesitate to bring them back to their former glory. Much better than building new ones that have no character or finesse

  3. Kedrial Jackson

    This mansion reminds me of the Biltmore Mansion in Ashville NC. She should allow them to bring life this Mansion and would bring so much revenue to this town or community.
    I am so interested to know what they furniture use to look like and how much revenue from the turpentine business made. It seems like a lot of history were made here in this mansion or community, Oh my grandfather used to live here in this town and I have absolutely no clue where this mansion sits!

  4. Mr. Mojo Risin

    What stories could be told. So glad to see that it’s still standing and some care enough to see it live on. I believe Ms. Effie garnered a nice sum of $1M from the timber she cut. Her inheritors receive quite a bit, more than any of the McRaineys did. I wouldn’t feel too sorry for their situation.

    1. Candi Mathis

      How very big of you to sit in judgement of MY AUNT Effie. You have absolutely NO IDEA of the hard scrabble life that she lived. How death took ALL of the people she loved most. Beginning with Mr. Mac, all of her husbands died YEARS before her, leaving her in VERY POOR financial trouble. Her ONLY CHILD was taken by Cancer in her 30’s. So, YES she sold some timber, and YES, her GRANDCHILDREN inherited the money from that. But YOU sir, have no horse in this race, so why don’t you MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS?? My aunt never spent a dime of that money on herself, and to top it all off, the McRaineys tried for YEARS to take that land from her, but were defeated EVERY TIME because of the way Mr. McRainey put it in his will…That Aunt Effie could stay on that land until the day she died, AND he gave her full discretion to cut ALL the timber if she so desired. She lived all her life POOR, but she didn’t want her grandchildren to suffer the same fate. My aunt had a heart of gold. You never went to her house and left hungry. If you needed money, she’d give you her last dollar. And keep in mind, she didn’t spend a DIME of the “timber money”. Oh, and one last thing, as soon as she died, the McRaineys sold that land fasted than you could say “what”. That’s ALL they wanted from the start, to get their greedy hands on the land, just to turn around and sell it. MY AUNT barely scratched out a living on that land, but she DID manage to keep the taxes paid every year, whether she had money for food or medicine.

      1. Bridget Godfrey Crews

        As I’ve said before…there is always 2 sides to every story. I am one of Mary Alice Mcrainey’s daughter’s, Bridget. Our Mother always left Miss Effie alone to live in peace. She never harassed her in anyway. Her father’s will left Effie the right to live there until her death and our Mother honored her Father’s wishes. Part of the McRainey property will always remain in the family. And the reasons for selling the other land is personal. We certainly haven’t criticized or downed you’re family in any way and would appreciate you showing us the same respect. Thank you!

      2. Thomas Hildebrandt

        To follow up on what Bridget said, at no time did any of the McRaineys who inherited the property ever try to do anything to take the property away from Ms. Effie. We initiated a probate proceeding in 1997, but this was purely to prepare an estate deed to put everyone’s names on the title, which should have been done when my great-grandfather passed away in the 1950s. Ms. Effie could have saved a ton of money on property taxes over the years if she would have put the land in the conservation use value covenant (CUVA). Further, there was a pivot completely overgrown on the east side of the property. Also, all of the land that was sold was sold to local people from Baker County at fair prices. The 55 acres including the house is still in the McRainey family.

      3. Bridget Crews

        Hi Thomas! Thank you for reaffirming the facts and hopefully enlightening others about this situation. I had to speak up when I read the accusations of harassment and greed! My Mother knew the will and would have never disrespected her Father’s wishes..none of us would! People are going to believe what they want to believe but we all know the real truth!

      4. Bobby

        A “life estate” can be a great estate planning tool, to provide an aging widow with a residence and a source of income until her death. But this is an example in which the widow was approximately the same age as the decedent’s children, making the “life estate” counter-productive. There was no real incentive for the widow to maintain the residence, as it would revert to her step-children upon her death (along with all the improvements she made to it), and there was no real incentive for the children to maintain the residence either, as the widow could easily outlive them, depriving them of any use of the property during their lifetimes. This makes me realize that if I ever have a young wife, I probably want to leave her an undivided interest, rather than a life estate.

      5. Bennie Henderson

        I guess it has been about 50 years or so since I was in that house. My uncle used to take my brother and I with him when he went to visit Uncle Roy and Aunt Effie. She was such a soft spoken lady and always made sure we felt welcome. I will always remember sitting at the table drinking a cup of coffee and listening to the tales of years gone by.

      6. Candi Mathis

        Hello, Please let me apologize to ALL of you that I’ve hurt with my past comments. Evidently, I didn’t know what I know now, some of that being how WONDERFUL all of the McRainey is. Words TRULY DO HURT, and I’m sure that MY words have hurt Mr. McRaineys family. So please, I am sincerely offering my apologies to EVERYONE, whether you’re descendants or just friends of Mr. McRaineys family. If I knew how to get in touch with each and every one of you just to say I’m sorry to you personally, I promise, I would. But, because I don’t know how to get in touch with each and everyone of you by phone, THIS is the only way I know how to apologize to you all. I Pray that somehow this message will reach everyone I’ve hurt with my words, and I ask for your forgiveness. Thank you all for taking the time to read this message, I really do appreciate it. From what I’ve read through the past few years, ALL of you have spoken so sweetly, and kindly of my late Aunt Effie, and I would personally like to thank all of you for that. If any of you would like to get in touch with me, my email address is: May God Bless each and every one of you.

        Sincerely and with love, ❤️Candi Bush

        Sent from my iPhone


  5. Jewell

    The McRainey House is beautiful, I’d love to have seen her when she was new. I’m glad the owner dosen’t want trespassers, she has a right to protect her beautiful Manson, and I’d be the same way. I’m glad we can at least see pictures of these old mansions and appreciate their beauty and History.

  6. Gods Glory

    It’s a beautiful old house, I stop and looked at it and no one bothered me. It’s and amazing old house it has great bones. It needs to be restored .

    1. Diana

      I stopped and looked a few years ago. An older lady came and stood at the edge of the property – and we very much got the sense she didn’t want us there so we left. It is a beautiful house. Wish it could be restored.

  7. Charles A Brand

    I was a meter reader for Georgia power 2011 @ 12.I used to read this house and trailer next door. It they were radio reads which meant I didn’t have to get out of truck,just held it ron out of truck window and got reading.
    So glad to see this house again!!!!

  8. Sherri

    Almost every town in Georgia has a house, or houses, like this – architectural treasures that the current owners can’t (probably mostly can’t) or don’t maintain. I hate for even one of them to be lost.

  9. Anita Tennille

    I love this house so much. I wish they would fix it up and make it a historical landmark. It’s beautiful and shows us how wonderful the South use to be.

  10. Sandra

    I can certainly understand the owners feelings. I too saw this house while traveling. I just had to turn around to see it better. I did go up to the house to take pictures. These pictures are incredible!! I see 4 faces looking back at me. Maybe she knows and doesn’t want them bothered or harassed.

    1. Diane

      If this home was built by the English architect, William Jay, of the famous Savannah homes, it is older than 1909. Any chance it is the same William Jay? If so, this home would easily qualify for historical foundation funds, and I imagine that many historic restorationists would chomp at the bit to be involved in the restoration.

      1. Francine

        I just read that William Jay died in 1837. It would have to be a lot older to have been designed or built by him.

  11. Eli Yoder

    Wow !! I can’t find the words to express all my tho’ts and feelings after reading all these posts about the beautiful McRainey house. Ms. Effie has every reason to protect this property !

  12. George S. Roselius

    I salute Miss Effie for hanging on to the property and doing what her late husband asked of her . She sounds like a true southern Christian lady and someone whom I would like to call a friend. I live in Henry County Alabama and I too have in the past had to deal with people trespassing on my grandfathers place stealing what ever they could get their hands on and I don’t blame her at all for wanting to protect what’s hers . I also know how it is to have to pay taxes and I know that if it was any way possible she would still be living in the mannor house and it would be in good shape but her family needed her more and she had her priorities straight she sounds like a wonderful person and may God bless and protect her always.

  13. Jayne

    II stumbled up on this web page last night after someone had posted a more recent picture of the McRainie house on a facebook page along with the old picture. I was amazed at the comments that were written about Effie, the owner of the house. You know it is so easy to judge someone but when you don’t know the whole story and you have never walked in that person’s shoes it really is quite unfair. I happen to know Effie that owns the property and yes it is for her life time only. I am about to shed some light to this story and it might not sit so well with some. Effie was a younger woman who was married to Mr. Mac. She came from a large, very old fashioned country family who didn’t have that much education. Effie was probably the age of Mr. Mac’s kids or maybe even younger. Mr. Mac was sick from what I understand about 8 years. I have heard the story about his sickness and death but I don’t remember all the details. Anyway she took care of him for all that time. As you can imagine sickness sometimes carries a big financial burden. From what I know he was unable to work and the financial situation was not great. Yes he owned a large amount of land that also included liabilities such as taxes and upkeep. Because of the situation they were not able to keep the house up nor were they able to keep up the taxes. When Mr. Mac died there were back taxes owed on the property. I am speaking of the property which he had left to his wife Effie for her life time. My grandfather was friends with Mr. Mac and Effie. He too was an older gentleman. About a year after Mr. McRainey’s death, Effie married my grandfather and was married to him until his death in Jan. 1970. I might add that she treated my grandfather very well and took excellent care of him and he could be quite contrary at times. At this time the house had not been kept up for some 8 or 10 years due to lack of funds. The back taxes had accumulated. Now remember we are not talking about just taxes on the house we are talking about quite a bit of acreage as well. At this point it was about to be sold to any person who would come in and pay the back taxes and take ownership. Although Poppa Roy and Effie were married they kept their finances separate and what was his was his and what belonged to her was hers. He was a tight wad and times and wouldn’t even buy his own medications but she would. Okay so anyone could come in and pay the back taxes and the property would be theirs. All this time Effie was still trying to come up with the money. She called Mr. Mac’s children to help with the tax but they claimed that they couldn’t help her. I am sure some it was because they resented that the land was left to her for her lifetime. I know the phone calls took place because my brother was living with Effie and my Poppa Roy at the time and he overheard the conversations. Some well to do family in Camilla was about the pay the debt and take over the property but Effie borrowed the money from my grandfather to pay this debt. Now my grandfather could have gone and paid the debt and the property would have been his/their property That is exactly what they should have done. But she did not want to do that because Mr. Mac wanted it to stay in his family. Had my Grandfather paid the taxes they could have owned the land free and clear.. Instead she chose to borrow the money from him and pay the taxes and leave things the way Mr. Mac wanted them to be. Someone in my family has the ledgers that my Grandfather kept and the ledgers showed where she paid back every dime of the money. Yes the place has provided her a home but no one will ever know just how hard she has worked to keep the place. She has raised livestock over the years and rented the land to pay the taxes. She is no stranger to hard work. She has done a man’s work many a time on the place trying to make a living. She has made a living but it is no glamorous living as people may think. I know that people may think she has money and she may, but somehow I doubt it. She and I have talked about how high property tax is and about how you are taxed highly on timber and so forth. People want to criticize her for not keeping the place up but I can’t even imagine what it would have cost over the years to keep the place up. Back maybe 25 years ago, I was told that someone had come around and talked to her about restoring the house at the cost of something like $150,000. Although Effie is a smart person as far as common sense, she did not have the education or connections to have a big paying job so she did what she could to take care of the place, pay the taxes and make a living for herself. She was smart enough to know that she had to have money to live on and that putting money into that old house after a certain point was senseless. You have to choose between living expenses or historical value. Some may say that she should have sold it to someone who could take care of it. With it being in a life estate she could not do that. After my grandfather’s death she married another man and they eventually adopted a daughter. By this time she was a middle age woman but someone in the community came to her and asked her to adopt this child as they knew she would be good to her and take care of her the best she could. Keep in mind she worked hard to be able to keep this property, but, the daughter nor her grandchildren will ever receive the fruits of her labor. Her daughter benefited in the sense that Effie supported her as a child and helped to pay her medical expenses and medical expenses for one of the grandchildren who will have medical needs the rest of her life. Her daughter who has commented on this forum at earlier times passed away with cancer Nov. 2012. She lost her last husband to lung cancer 8 or 10 years ago or maybe longer. At Effie’s death the property will revert back to the McRainie family as Mr. Mac’s will states. They have taken her to court and tried numerous times to take the property away from her but so far all that has happened is that it cost her money and maybe caused her to be angry and bitter. I hate seeing her criticized and put down by the McRainie family and others who may not understand her plight and just what has taken place in the past times. At some point in time this property will pass to the McRainie family and I hope that it means brings them as much pleasure as they think it will. I also hope that they realize (whether they want to admit it or not,) it could have been that because of the debt involved, the property could have very well belonged to my family or someone else’s family. It was only because of Effie’s love and respect for Mr. Mac and her kind heart that she made sure that it stayed in the McRainie family. The story could have ended differently. As far as the comment that she could have kept the house up but she chose not to do so. Have you really considered the expense involved with restoration and upkeep of that house? Effie loves that house but because of circumstances beyond her control she has not been able to keep that house up over the years starting with Mr. Mac’s illness. It would have taken someone with a great deal of money to keep that house up and the McRainie family didn’t even want to help pay the back taxes. I love old houses too and would have loved to seen that house been kept up. I have been to the house but only in the back part where she lived for many years. I would have loved to have gone through the old house but I never got to do so. In fact I would have loved to have had some of the antiques but I had no entitlement to them nor did the people who took them. People have stripped the house of even the mantles as well as other parts of the structure. I don’t get the concept of “abandoned house.” It is not an abandoned house, she just doesn’t live in it. She still pays taxes on it and therefore it belongs to her at least her lifetime. All property belongs to someone whether it be the government, a company or an individual. If your name isn’t on the deed and you are not paying the taxes, then you don’t have any business going on the property without permission. Effie was away taking care of her daughter who was struggling with cancer. She could have very well been doing that when some of you stopped to take pictures and remarked that she wasn’t home. Prior to her daughter’s sickness she took care of her husband who was also fighting cancer for some time. Yes she is protective of that house and property. That has been her life for60+ years and she has to live each day knowing that people have come in and just invaded her privacy and taken things that didn’t belong to them including family pictures. I have heard the expression that “they raped the land’. In this case as far as I am concerned they “raped” trespassers and thieves have raped this house and invaded her privacy and after all she has been through over the years with trespassing and theft, I understand her feelings and the need to protect what belongs to her. Has anyone ever thought about just how many people pass through the area and want to stop and photograph the house? I can almost bet you that at least once a week someone photographs that house. On different sites I have seen many, many comments about people who are passing through and stopping to photograph the house or trying to talk to her. Now can you imagine how that interrupts her life especially during a time when her daughter and husband were fighting for their lives.. This day in time you don’t know who to trust. I honestly would be leery of people myself because people case a place and then go back later to steal or rob someone. So as you judge someone stop to consider that you may not have all the facts and that you haven’t walked in their shoes. The Effie that I know is a loving person who has been wronged many times and is not trusting of people and especially strangers. I love Effie and she has always treated my family as her own. She took wonderful care of my grandfather and did everything she could to make his life better. He lived to be 82 years old and I give her credit for making his life better and helping him to live longer. She really is a wonderful person who has helped with the care of many of sick person or elderly person. My Poppa Roy has been dead almost 44 years and we are still in touch and I love her just as much as I ever did. She is the only grandmother that I ever knew. Regardless of how much we are intrigued by the house and the history,she still deserves her privacy and the right to feel secure in her own home even in a time when the world is full of crime.

    1. Brian Brown Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing this Jayne. I too hate when people have criticized her for just taking care of her own property and business, as I’ve said more than once. She’s a hero in my book for not selling out. If she had, the house would likely have been torn down years ago.

      1. Kelly McRainey Moore

        I am a McRainey and we are all a bit peculiar. However, that is where I greatest strength. I wish that I knew how we are related. I know that we do have relatives in Alabama. I would love to hear from anyone that knows. This home is awesome. I bet in it’s day; it was beautiful and lively.

      2. Bridget Crews

        She was only able to reside on the property til her death…then the property was returned to the McRainey Family. She never owned the property hence she couldn’t sell it.

    2. Bennie Henderson

      I happened to come upon this site after looking for a picture of this house. I remember many years ago my Uncle Jim would take us to visit ‘Uncle Roy and Aunt Effie’ at this house. I remember her as a very nice lady and you could tell she was a loving woman. As I recall, we would sit in one room in the house (I believe it was the kitchen) and listen as the adults talked about various members of the family and friends. Although I left and spent a career in the Navy, I still make it back ‘home’ on occasion and pass this house and smile when I recall those memories. Thanks for the information.

    3. Cindy Brown

      Jayne, thank you for sharing the story of Effie, she sounds like a loving strong woman. I admire her for the struggles she has been through, it requires a lot of faith and strength.

    4. Eli Yoder

      Very interesting and I must say I agree totally with your post ! I have often driven past this house with a strong desire to know the story of this beautiful house ! The first time I drove by it was probably the fall of 1979. If I can be of any help in, in any way, email me.

    5. Candi Mathis

      I knew your “Poppa Roy” as he was once my uncle, married to my daddys sister Effie. I would love to talk to you sometime, what stories we could share!
      LOVE your reply about people trespassing on aunt Effie’s land. You are right about the way thieves came while she was taking care of Angel and stealing everything they could get their hands on… I would say everything that wasn’t nailed down, BUT….they actually pried the old fireplace mantles off the wall and took them too. They also took the old “claw foot” bathtubs. So sad… but SO true.
      Anyone even THINKING about going over there should be warned..Aunt Effie is old and she can’t see to well anymore, so she be aiming her gun over your head, but you could be shot IN the head.
      I have very fond memories of that old house, as a matter of fact, when I was born, that is the first house I lived in. Aunt Effie and my daddy, Marvin Holt, were the closest of all the Holt children. Recently when I was with Aunt Effie, she told me that “since losing Uncle Charlie (to cancer) and then my daddy (in 2004) and then Angel (in 2012) she just didn’t have anything or anyone to live for anymore. Aunt Effie has ALWAYS worked hard AND taken care of other people. She is a WONDERFUL woman who has had MANY struggles in her lifetime, and people that don’t know her, should not make any assumptions about her or the old house.
      Anyway, just wanted to thank you for the beautiful article about her.
      Take Care & God Bless You and Your Family,
      Candi Mathis

    6. Cathey

      Jayne, Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story about this gorgeous home and the wonderful Lady Effie. Truly touching! I’m wondering if she is still living?

    7. Ramie

      Old people are my most favorite of all people. Miss Effie certainly sounds like someone I would like to get to know, and call my friend.

    8. Tammy McDonald

      I am so glad I came across this post. I never knew all this about Ms. Effie. My name is Tammy Crosby (maiden name) It was my sister Angel that she adopted when she was 3, I was adopted at 9 to another family. When I found out where Angel was when I was 16 I called Ms.Effie and she let me start coming over to visit Angel. I never understood why they just lived in 1 part of the house but now that I’ve read your story I know. Ms.Effie still asks Angel’s children about me and if they talk to me. She is a wonderful person and even let me bring our biological mother to see Angel when she was young. Our biological mother and myself went to Angel’s funeral and Ms. Effie was so wonderful to our mom, made us sit by her and even introduced us as Angel’s birth mother and sister. She truly has a huge heart and is not doing so well with her health now. I’m so glad my sister had someone so caring. Thanks again for your post and I will forever look at Ms. Effie in a new light.


    “Mark” I think that is the point the daughter is making. People stop by and then trespass on the property and walk right in the home. It’s private property that didn’t belong to you. You might want to be careful with the pictures you have of the inside of the home. Seems to me it’s pretty good evidence that you were trespassing.

  15. Terry Maynard

    Just returned from a trip to Elmodel. we took my my dad,Perry Maynard there to visit his boyhood home. He was born in 1922 and lived there until WW II. Would love to hear from anyone who knew the family. He was sad to see the condition of the house but was very glad to visit the area for maybe the last time.

    1. Peggy Maynard Corbett

      Terry. I believe Perry was my grandfathers brother. His name was William Thomas Maynard from Elmodel. If you’re on FB I’d love to connect with you.

  16. Jesse M. Bookhardt

    Brian, this house surely has much attention. I feel sorry for the owner and respect her position. Some simply don’t respect others. The old home is certainly a beauty. Perhaps it is too far gone to be restored and that is a shame.

  17. Douglas McRainey

    The McRainey cemetary is located just off the same road. About 2 miles southwest of the McRainey House.
    Douglas McRainey

    1. Candi Mathis

      Mr. McRainey, Are you related to “Mr. Mac”? Would love to know if you have any history of this house.

  18. Karen

    I love the house.. It is beautiful.. Sorry to see others have abused it and its history and family.. But the house is awesome even with her age..

  19. archibald martin mcrainey (archie)

    Where is the cemetary located with Malcolm Archibald McRainey and his
    family….tu….archibald Martin McRainey……….

  20. Grace C (@graceinsummer)

    So what year was the place abandoned? I totally understand the perspective about trespassers taking things other than photos and maybe getting into physical harm in the house, so strangers aren’t allowed in.It’s very sad she had to abandon the house.I assume the man who was dying of lung cancer is deceased now, unless he’s the guy living with her in the trailor.I guess by the time he was deceased, trespassers had ransacked the place and it was in too much disrepair to move back in? It would take a lot of money to restore it, true, and sometimes it’s just not there.But the house is very lovely, maybe in the future it would be a good historically preserved property.It’s too bad trespassers ransacked it earlier when the lady was out of town.I think it needs to be preserved in the long run.

  21. Angela

    I hate to see the house go more than anyone. Breaks my heart that I spent my whole life knowing this place as home but it will not be in the family and my kids and grandkids to come will not be able to enjoy it as much as I have. Most in the county have been really helpful to my mom and helped her and I am so grateful for those people and I know she is as well. She loves everyone there and would never know any other place. She will not even leave if she is sick and can’t take care of herself. I know most don’t mean any harm to her but there are a few that would love nothing more than bad for her. Thank you to those here for your support and for making the correction under the picture about the warning. She really is a nice person she has just had a lot done to her and has gotten bitter to strangers. If some would just take the time to stop and talk to her and ask her questions you may be surprised at all the stories she could tell you about the place and the county. She has been here a long time and saw a lot. She isn’t a crazy old lady. She is smarter than most give her credit for.

    1. ricky l butler

      hey angela my name is ricky l butler i was tald that my dad raymond lee butler and your mom r first cusins did u now him he died in 2000 i hunt in elmodel at the wma ied like to here back from u

      1. Jayne Wilder Carman

        Ricky Butler, I assume that you did not hear back from Angela. Her mother was once married to my grandfather actually before Angela’s time. I am still in touch with her mother. Angela has since passed away with Cancer at a very young age.

    2. Cindy Sands

      I left a comment further down the list. I had asked about pictures of the place. Is your mom still willing to tell about the place? I will be coming up that way from Florida in a few weeks and would love to chat with her. I can only imagine the stories and I know the love she has for the place. My Mother-in-law lost the house she raised her four children in due to “progress”. People don’t respect history. And the ones to tell it!! Please email or call if it would be ok to stop by the house she is in now. I understand it is the mobile home next door?
      Thank you, Cindy Sands

    3. Nancy Shaffer

      Thank you Angela. I know that seeing your home as it is now is heartbreaking. Every time I pass by, I look at it and wonder how it must have looked 50 years ago. I was so hoping that the work that was done about 25 years ago was the start of rebuilding and restoring this stately mansion. And I really appreciate you telling about your mom. I know that she is very protective of the house – and this is as it should be – She became very upset last November when we stopped to take pictures from the road.Yes, we did try to ask her questions about the house, etc. but we must have been ‘two too many strangers’ that day. But primarily due to her attitude, I wondered if someone was actually living there and chalked it up to a fantasy. Thank you again for sharing.

      1. Jayne Wilder Carman

        Nancy Shaffer, I am connected to Angela’s mother. I am still in touch with her and Angela lost her battle with Cancer last November (2012) near Thanksgiving. it sounds like you may have stopped around that time. Her mother has really been under a strain for quite some time with her daughter’s illness and helping her care for her children. Her mother is really a wonderful person but has really had some tough times in her life. Like most people of her age she doesn’t comprehend the interest that people have about the house. Many people see a sight such as that as just an old deteroirating house and nothing more. You would not believe the number of people who stop to look at the house and take pictures and so forth. She is not trusting of people because of the problems she has had in the past with people trespassing and taking virtually all the antique furniture along with anything else they wanted.

  22. Trace campbell

    I mean why do we always look at these places and say wow that was nice or what it could be we should do something and make it nice again. We have enought money in this world to help other ppl why dont we write a lettter to have it declaired a lankmark and then raise money to restore it.

  23. Angela

    It is very upsetting to see people count the days til my moms death. Also that some of you are talking about plainly stealing someones property. Anything in the house including the confederate bills were not left for any of you to rumble through and take whatever you wanted. Do you realize you people are talking about someones HOME? It was not abandobed. She moved into the trailer because my dad was dying of lung cancer and needed better living arrangements. It nearly killed my mom to have to move out of it. My mom has never been anything less than good to all in the county and to read all this really makes me sick. She has never done anything to wrong anyone but everyone stole her entire life. After having to leave she give up on life and refuses to seek medical help. Im sure that makes some of you very happy but for those who love her are not. She loved that place and Mr. McRainey more than her own life. All of you should be ashamed. What happened to compassion and caring for others? I hope to all those who BROKE into my moms home has the same done to you. My mom always told me to never wish bad on anyone but not only did you do it you had the nerve to brag about it to the world. But you probably call yourselves chrisitian law abiding citizens. What you did was not only immoral it was ILLEGAL.

    1. Brian Brown Post author

      I couldn’t agree more, Angela. Just don’t think that everyone who loves the house is a thief, nor that I agree with comments from people who have bragged about such things. Karma to those who would plunder other peoples’ property!

    2. violeta123321

      I visit your mother often, my family lives on the land behind her house. No one around here is waiting on her to die! Your mother has told me about all of the looters and robbers who have stolen from her, but it’s not any of us. Those confederate bills were found by an Elmodel kid in the 1970s. I do believe that your parents gave them to him. He showed them to my dad on the way to school. None of us have broken into her house. I have her permission to take photos whenever I want, and the man who went upstairs is Mr. Urving, who farms her land. Last time I visited everything had been cleaned out, stolen no doubt. There is still a good bit of furniture and glass-wear though. People from Elmodel would like to see the house restored, it IS a historic land mark. Also, are you Miss Effie’s daughter, or daughter-in-law? I know that she had a daughter, but I’ve never seen her around and some folks say that she died. I’ve never asked Miss Effie though, not wanting to upset her.

      1. Angela

        I am her only child and daughter. I was close to death but not there just yet. I know there a some people left there that still care for and respect my mom. But some of the posts on here clearly say not all do. I did not name anyone in particular in anything I said. Anyone that had her permission to go inside is more than welcome. I visit my mom frequently and talk to her every day. I am with her atleast one day a week. Yes, the house is a landmark but for those that do not know the entire story of that place do not need to make statements about the property or the upkeep. Anyone who knows much of anything about my mom know how much she loves that place. I hear all the stories and gossip that goes around that county about her and its all either half the story or all lies.

      2. violeta123321

        I hear all of those things too. It’s sad that people like to gossip about people so bad. Your mother is a really nice person, and I’m glad she’s here.

    3. violeta123321

      I visit your mother often, my family lives behind the property. No one around here is waiting on her to die! Most of us are just sad to see the house in disrepair. I have her permission to photograph the place whenever I want…and yes there are still things there. Nothing of value, all of that was stolen long ago. She’s told me all about the thieves who have come and stolen her stuff. It’s sad, but it’s none of us. The confederate bills were found by an Elmodel boy in the 1970s, and your parents let him have them. My dad saw them when he was riding the bus to school with the boy. The man who I said when in the house is a friend of hers, Mr. Urving. He farms her land. Also, are you Miss Effey’s daughter or daughter-in-law? I know that she has a daughter, but I’ve never seen her around, and some people say that she died. I’ve never asked Miss Effey about this, not wanting to upset her.

    4. Cindy Sands

      I have seen this house many times on my way through to Alabama. I recently stopped at the road and took some pictures of the architecture. Absolutely beautiful! It is a shame that your mother isn’t able to live there. It’s a shame that the community didn’t care enough to help with keeping this place up. You are right, destroying such a lovely place is horrible. And to hurt your mother with the vandalism is worse. Please know that some of us who stop to take pictures only want pictures of what once was. I can’t tell you the thrill of knowing that the history of the place was of love. I read the obituary of MR. McRainey, whom built the house and how much he loved it. I would love to see pictures of the house way back when and of the family that grew there and loves the place. I just couldn’t get the home out of my mind and had to find out more about it!
      Thank you so much, Cindy Sands
      PS. I will be coming up to the area in a few weeks and would love to meet with you and here the history. Please email at or call me at 352-603-4131.


      I would think that these people that are admitting to theft could and should be brought up on charges. You have it in their own words what they took and ect…I would turn it over to the county attorneys and let these people pay for their theft. They are common thieves, nothing more.

  24. Angela

    And what kind of person goes into soneones house without asking? Would any of you appreciate cominh home to find complete strangers inside your house?

    1. Loy

      I believe that my husband thought the house was abandoned completely. I know he thinks it’s a shame that such a house has fallen apart…

    2. Brian Brown Post author

      I agree, Angela. While I understand the fear that photographers have of the place, they certainly should NEVER go inside a private residence or private property. I have never encouraged that by sharing my photographs, and having lost items on my own family’s farm in much the same way, I understand your mother’s attitude about this. I hope everyone who reads these comments will also read what you had to say, because it certainly explains things. I know that she doesn’t know the difference between someone just photographing the house from the road and a potential thief. I say bless her for protecting her property in any way that she can!

      1. Angela

        I find it hard to believe anyone would think it was just abandobed with her new house RIGHT NEXT DOOR. She gets so upset just by talking about the old house but it got to the point people wouldnt even ask. They would just take it upon themselves to go right in. After that, she dont want anyone on the property.

  25. Angela

    No actually there are NO antiques left in the house at all due to theives and vandals literally destroying the entire house. I have read all the comments about my mom but what none if you seem to understand or even consider is she has sit and watched her whole life taken from her almost over night. If any of you had all you ever worked for taken from you, you would most likely shoot someone too. Its like the old saying I guess, “the good must suffer with the bad”. And as far as people going inside that is a big liability for her. If she let anyone inside and they got hurt it would be a lawsuit for sure. Seems all are only considering their own selfishness. You should all remember there are two sides to everything.

    1. violeta123321

      I don’t blame her any for shooting at folks, if they’re on her property she has every right to. She told me everything including the mantles had been stolen. I had heard rumors about there being antiques there, but they’re gone. People like to make stuff up just to keep the rumor mill going. I’ve heard so many stories I can’t even tell what’s true.

  26. Dallas Rogers

    im dallas rogers ,im only 15 years old but i grew up in baker county down hudgins mill grandmothers name was vickie sawyer and grandfather walter sawyer.ever since i was young my pa and i always rambled the back roads of baker county fishing on the ichaway and lots more.i remember this house the most because it was so big.i always asked him if we could go in it ,he always told me no and now i see why! but if anybody has pictures of the inside let me know !

  27. Jessica Owens

    Hey Julian -I’m the Jessica that worked at DrF’s and I own the big white house with the picket fence next to the infamous McRainey house. I heard about your run in- I was run off the property too but not by a gun- just meanness! I use to spend the night in this house as a small girl. Ms. Effey’s daughter and I used to be close friends. The house was in terrible condition even then and that was 20 years or more. My mom used to own the country store in Elmodel. Please send me any pics! This is my neighbor and my property value would adore a restoration!!!

      1. teresa

        i admire this home so very much and would love it if you would email me the pics you have. thanks so much!

  28. mark

    I was heading back to florida and past this beauty. Had to stop and look around. parked right out front and walked all around the sides and front. The bug to go inside was overwhelming so I scrambled over the collapsed front porch and suprisingly the front door (with glass still intact) opened up. I didn’t go far inside as the central roof is gone and the entire stair case is collapsed. There are two pianos in the front sitting room and a fire place in the foyer. After reading this blog I’m amazed I didn’t get back to florida full of buckshot. Let me know if anyone wants to see some crappy cellphone camera pics

  29. mark

    holy cow. I stopped for while in front of the house. walked around and then went inside to take some pics with my cell phone. didn’t go but a few feet inside as the central roof is gone and the entire central stair system is collapsed. Way too dangerous go go any further. A fireplace in the fourier and two pianos in the front left sitting (living) room. I was amazed that the front door was pretty intact including the glass and just opened up. Glad I didn’t get shot at. When I get the pictures off the phone and can post or send them to anyone interested.

  30. Brittani

    My cousin LOVES to take pictures of old houses, barns, etc.. and happened to come across this one. They heard about the house and drove all the way from Moultrie just to see it. I didn’t hear of anybody ever coming out and shooting or anything, but I have seen the pictures myself of the INSIDE of this house and all around the outside. It’s a very beautiful place! I will be asking her if I can post some of the pictures up if they still have them.

  31. Jared

    I’m a McRainey. My Grandmother grew up in this house and is second in line as holder of the property. No, she isn’t the one that lives next door either. My mom and my aunt, uncle, etc. are third in line as owners of this property. We’ll see what we do with it in the future. I guess it could be anything from restoration to selling.

    1. teresa

      if you have any pics you would like to share i would greatly appreciate it. i have no connections….just love it and would love to see former pics. thnx

    2. Jeaneen Harrell

      It will be a pleasure when someone that actually has some sense to them and the money to restore such a beautiful old house actually do it.

  32. archie mcrainey

    all is very interesting…does anyone know where the family cemetery is for Malcolm and his family ..thank you….arch mcrainey

    1. Julian Griffin

      Dear Arhie Mcrainey – How are yu kin to M.A Mcriney?
      You may find this interesting.. Read below..
      File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
      Thomas Hildebrandt October 1, 2006, 3:31 pm

      Albany Herald, Nov. 6, 1914
      M. A. M’Rainey Dies At Elmodel
      Prominent Planter, Land Owner and Business Man of Baker County Passes Away.

      The sad news was received in Albany late yesterday afternoon that Mr. M. A.
      McRainey, one of the most prominent planters and landowners of Southwest
      Georgia, had died at his home at Elmodel, Baker county. The end came about 2:30
      o’clock yesterday afternoon, and the news reached here when Mr. L. Vannucci, the
      undertaker, was notified to take charge of the funeral arrangements. Mr.
      Vannucci left at once in an automobile for Elmodel, which is thirty-one miles
      from Albany, and not on any railroad.

      The news of Mr. McRainey’s death will prove a shock to his hundreds of friends
      in Albany and throughout this entire section of Georgia. He had been critically
      ill about two weeks. He was the leading factor in the development of the north
      central part of Baker county, and owned much land in that section. His home at
      Elmodel is one of the most handsomest country homes in Southwest Georgia. He
      was a large planter, landowner and business man, and a man of power and
      influence among his fellowmen. The hospitality of his home was prodigal and he
      never was happier than when he was entertaining his friends there. Genial and
      cordial in all of his relations, he made friends with all who knew him.

      The deceased is survived by his wife and two boys, who have the sympathy of a
      host of friends in their bereavement. He was about 55 or 60 years of age.

      The funeral was held at 12 o’clock today, followed by a Masonic burial,
      conducted by Masons of the Albany lodge. The following Masons left this morning
      to conduct the Masonic rites: Mr. S. Sterne, who acts as master, in place of
      Dr. Hugo Robinson, who was unable to attend; Messrs. G. H. Tomlinson, P. J.
      Clark, C. L. Chapman, W. R. Joiner, Charles Lonsberg, Daniel Mayer and Joe Sparks.

      Camilla Enterprise, Nov. 6, 1914.

      Prominent Baker Countian Dies
      Mr. M.A. M’Rainey, of Elmodel, Baker County, Dies Quite Suddenly

      The news of the death of Mr. M.A. McRainey, of Elmodel in Baker was received in
      the city yesterday. Mr. McRainey had been in ill health for several years, but
      his death was unexpected by his many friends in this county, who have visited
      him lately.

      Mr. McRainey was 48 years old, and was reared in [Robeson] County, North
      Carolina, moving to Baker county some 17 years ago, where he entered the naval
      stores business. He was successful and at his death was very wealthy in farm
      lands, in addition to his naval stores and mercantile business.

      He leaves a wife and two sons, Malco[l]m Angus, age 17 and Neal Duncan, age 13
      to mourn his death. Mrs. McRainey was formerly Miss Alice Galloway. While no
      arrangements have been made for his funeral, it is likely that the interment
      will take place at the old Galloway Burial ground at Hardup, Baker county, where
      Mrs. McRainey’s parents are buried.

      Mr. McRainey was very popular and well loved wherever he was known. He was a
      member of the Presbyterian Church, a Mason, a Shriner, Elk and Odd Fellow. A
      large delegation of the Camilla Lodge 128 F. & A. M. are planning to attend the
      funeral in a body.

  33. Julian Griffin

    Hey Thomas – I’m really good friends with the Findleys you may know them? You may know the Livingstons? I understand she painted a picture under the stairs of the house. Will your Step-great-grandmother allow you to go into the old house or even around it? I wish those in the family would allow her to help keep the house up. Its such a beauty!!!

    1. Thomas Hildebrandt


      I’m sorry but I don’t know the Findleys or the Livingstons. She has let me go into the house with an architect, but it is very unsafe. She can keep up the house if she wants, but she doesn’t see the point in putting money into it.


      1. Julian Griffn

        So Thomas when was the last time you were up at the house? I really would love to capture some pictures of the place again without being shot at! When I went up to the place I did not even know anyone was living around there! LoL found out the hard way tho! The Findleys are from that area and the mother of Miss Findley had painted a picture under the main stairwell. This is to my understand and I would love to have a picture of that. You think you can get me up to the house without being shot at again?

    2. Jessica

      Hey Julian,
      I’m not exactly sure what he did with them…they were both very young at the time. According to various accounts Miss Effey just left everything in the house as-is, and it has fallen in from there. So you literally have a home full of priceless antiques just rotting.

      I’ve never worked at the office, but I probably have some connection to the Findleys and Livingstons. I will have to ask my great aunt. (She’s a Tennille from Patmos.) She knows a lot of the family. My dad has known Miss Effey for most of his life, we’re McDaniels. He’s a farmer and has rented her land before.

      A painting under the stairs sounds awesome. I’ve never heard that one. I have heard tales of hidden rooms though.

      I would love to get to go inside myself. I have a feeling that that’s not going to happen as long as Miss Effey is alive though. Perhaps when the estate returns to the McRaineys people can finally see whats inside! When I was taking photos I really should have taken some through the windows!

      1. Thomas Hildebrandt


        I was in the house a couple of years ago several times with Ms. Effie’s permission and took a bunch of pictures. There is nothing of value left in the house. Most of the stuff in the house is Ms. Effie’s own furniture. I did find a few family photos, but many had been stolen.

        Burglars have already stolen everything of value, including the fireplace mantels. It’s a shame. The worst thefts happened when she was out of town. She can’t bear to go into the place now since they ransacked all of her possessions.

        It is very dangerous inside. I practically had to jump across a 10 foot wide hole in the 2nd floor. I recommend to everyone to stay away.

      2. ricky butler

        jessica my name is ricky butler my dad was raymond butler i was talled to day that my dad and miss effey r cousin’s he was from baker did u or your famley no he his brother was robert earl butler if u can e m at thank y

  34. Thomas Hildebrandt

    This house was built by my great-great-grandfather. My step-great-grandmother lives there next to the house on a life estate now.

    Actually, she did not outlive all of her husband’s children. My grandfather died in 1980, but my great-aunt is still living.

    If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. 😉

    1. Julian Griffin

      So. I’m the person that was shot at by the guy. I wrote the first post on this site. That’s us! So where are the hidden rooms in this house and why would the family let the house go to pot like this? Why did they not care for the house? Are the lady and her son still living in the trailer next to the beautiful old home?

      1. Thomas Hildebrandt

        There are not any hidden rooms that I know of. There is a basement under the kitchen in the back.

        My step-great-grandmother has had a life estate for over 50 years, which has kept the family out of the picture. She didn’t have the money or know how to fix certain things. And the place is in the shape it is because of all the vandals that trashed the place when she was out of town.

        She still lives in the trailer next door with her boyfriend.

    2. Jessica

      Oh, I had no idea any of Mr. McRainey’s children were still alive. My dad knows Miss Effey and my great-aunt used to board in the house when she went to school in Elmodel.

      I stopped the other day and talked to Miss Effey and her boyfriend and they let me take photos of the outside. (I really think they let me do this only because my family knows her well.) She’s not an awful person, just very wary of other people. With good reason to be, a few months ago some teenagers tried to rob her. She came out guns a’blazing and chased them off. Her comment to my dad was: “I would have kept going if I had any more shells.” She was a little wary of me at first, after I had told her who I was she warmed up a bit. She said that I couldn’t take any photos on the inside of the house because the second story had caved in and she didn’t want me to get hurt.

      The last I heard about the condition of the house shells of rooms remained among various antiques. (A friend of Miss Effey’s had said that a plank was all that existed to cross one of the upstairs bedrooms. Another friend of my father found a large stash of confederate bills.

      All this leads me to a question. When Miss Effey dies and the estate returns to the McRaineys’ what will the family do to it? It seems beyond repair, but if funds are raise it could be a valuable part of the community. Many county residents don’t want to see it go. (I have heard interest of the Baker County Historical Society’s desire to turn it into a community center if donated/bought.) It would be a beautiful private residence as well.

      Any way you look at it the home seriously needs to be restored.

      1. Julian Griffin

        Wow Jessica.. If only walls could talk.. So what did your fathers friend do with the large stash of confederate bills that he found? I would to see this place brought back to life. Side note.. Did you once work at Dr. Findley’s office? If so Im Julian.. Aarons Best Friend. I was told that Ms. Livingston Judy’s mom painted something under the stairs of the house.. I would love to have a day inside that house. Such Such History!!!

      2. Bridget Godfrey Crews

        Our Mother, Mary Alice McRainey is doing well at 90 years old. Her memory is amazing and she shares many of her memories with us. There is more to this story than originally stated. So, I pray no one jumps to conclusions about why the condition of this home is as it is. It had nothing to do with the ancestors of the McRainey family! I know…she my Mother! And I too witnessed everything along with my sisters and brother…2 sides to every story and in this case…3 or 4! Bridget

    3. Dondi

      Hi Mr. Hildebrandt,
      I live in Tennessee but grew up in Cairo,Ga. We used to drive by this home on the way back and forth from Eufaula. As a teenager I would look at the house as we passed and wonder about the history of the home and what the walls could tell. I have looked at the photos and read about the family. I was wondering about its History and who occupied it from the 30s forward how it passed from one person to the other etc. I am a really big History buff and believe that it can be told through all families not just the famous ones.
      I really get angry about people just going in without permission and for people that take what is not theirs, in any language that is theft. I was married to a farmer in Cairo for 24 years and we lived on the family farm in the house that replaced the log cabin that was there first. I had to take things out of the hands of people countless times because they thought it was ok to take things from the cabin. We finally purchased two cargo containers put them on the farm and put every single piece of the contents of the cabin in them and put it under lock and key. None of it was abandoned we owned it. There are very few truly abandoned properties and abandoned still does not mean a free for all for the public.
      Sorry for venting that way. People that assume they have the right to trespass onto others property without permission make it bad for people like me that just want to know the History. I cant blame her for being suspicious, I was when I found people in the cabin which by the way sat 10 yards from my house.
      Thank You for the History.

  35. Jessica

    I am from Newton…but my family ownes a home in Elmodel, the owner is a little old woman…and yes she will shoot. She married the man who owned this house when she was a young girl and he was a much older man. He was previously married and had children. He left the house and his land to her. She out lived his children and now the house has fallen into disrepair. I would advise not to go into the house. Her family are shoot first ask questions later kind of people.

    Check out the churches in Elmodel and take a ride up the creek to the old power plant…or better yet check out the old school house. They are better and much safer!

  36. Paul Fretts

    My wife an I happened upon this house last week while taking a little photo safari into GA. I was immediately fascinated with the house and probably would have walked up to it if a man had not come out to the road and told me to stay away. He did not care if I took photos from the road. After reading of the experience of one visitor I am glad he came out as I would have probably walked right up and started taking photos.

  37. Anna Smith

    Hi! I am also from nearby, Bainbridge, GA. I now live in Tallahasse, FL and we are home owners in Elmodel. We have a house on the Ichuaway Notchaway. This is a beautiful area and I too enjoy photography (as a hobby). I have hundreds of photos of the creek and surrounding areas. I have photographed the house too and have some absolutely beautiful shots (especially at sundown). I heard that the person that owns the house is a bit “eccentric”, but had heard it was a woman?! I also was lead to believe her last name is Holt. Very interesting.

  38. archie mcrainey

    from the mcrainey line …father was archibald thompson mcrainey out of st pauls north carolina….trying to find the line between malcom and my father ……thank you

    1. Thomas Hildebrandt


      Malcolm Archibald McRainey was born in 1866 in N.C. His brothers were John Daniel, Duncan Angus, Roderick Thompson, Wade Hampton. Sisters were Barbara Americus, Effie C., and Margaret A. Their parents were John McRainey and Flora McMillan.

      1. archibald martin mcrainey

        John Daniel was my grandfather……During my grandfathers life they began
        to use the name THOMPSON as a middle name for a lot of the kids…my
        fathers. middle name was Thompson with a first name of ARCHIBALD….DOES ANYone know where the Thompson name came from… thank you and good luck with the house…..archie McRainey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.