McRainey House, 1909, Elmodel

Nearly six years have passed since I first made a trip to Baker County to photograph this house. I had been warned about not entering the property, which I wouldn’t have done to begin with, but I was intent on seeing it and, if I got lucky, getting a good shot or two. This is one of those images, from 29 March 2010. Much time has passed, but the popularity of my original photograph hasn’t subsided. The house is owned by “Mrs. Effie”, widow of one of builder Archibald McRainey’s sons, Malcom Angus McRainey. In recent years, Mrs. Effie has become a hero to many (including me) for her refusal to allow looters and vandals to further harm the property. Some have complained that she should have done more to save it, but let’s face it, not many could afford the repairs necessary to bring this back to its original appearance. But it’s still important to Mrs. Effie. She lives next door,  and if you have any notion of trespassing here, don’t be surprised if you’re met with a hail of gunfire. If you just have to see it, drive by and get a photo from your car window.

For more background from a local perspective, see Jessica McDaniel’s post.

21 thoughts on “McRainey House, 1909, Elmodel


    IF someone would measure the house, I will draw the plans of the existing house. I use Autocad for the drawings. Maybe we can start doing this for these old houses to save forever. I am an Architect with 40+ years of experience. I own the Watts-Muse residence in Shellman, Georgia. Contact me.

  2. Rosanna Lenzi

    Yes.. there are several pictures on Pinterest, abandoned websites and YouTube.. Does anyone know the status of the house now? From previous post, it states that they have tried to start.. unfortunately it may be too far gone.. this has always been one of my favorites..

    1. Thomas Hildebrandt

      I’m working on it when I get spare time. We have already managed to rebuild the flat roof, reframe the attic, and replace some key structural members. We lost a couple of columns due to the hurricane, and we had a couple of shingles blow off along with a ridge cap, so those are my current priorities. All things considered, we weathered the 100+ mph winds very well. I will need some laborers to help with carrying off debris, but it’s hard to find people with all the hurricane damage in the area. Also, this year I was able to get the 118-year-old artesian well next to the house working again, and we’ve been renovating the trailer next door and generally cutting down brush and overgrowth.

      1. Rosanna Lenzi

        Thomas Hildebrandt.. has there been anymore progress on the house? I’m sure others would love to have an update. I agree it would be nice to follow the progress on a blog, Facebook, or website. Such history and story to the house.. always one of my favorites.

  3. Pamela Burchette

    Was this house on the right going to Albany,GA from Eufaula, Alabama ? I remember being captivated by a beautiful , home any time my family and I would pass by. The last two times we went to Albany, I couldn’t find it anymore. Has it been torn down ? I realize that this may not be the same house, but I just had to ask.

      1. Rosanna Lenzi

        Do they have plans for the house? So sad that it couldn’t be restored sooner. Interesting history of the house and family.

      2. Thomas Hildebrandt

        For now, we are cleaning it up and stabilizing it. We recently completed reframing the attic floor and rafters and rebuilt the flat roof over the center part of the house.

      3. Marci L. Ficht

        Thomas Hildebrandt – I am so happy to hear you are trying to save this fabulous home!!! Do you have a blog or Facebook page or something where you are documenting your work as you go? Maybe with photos of the inside? I never met Ms Effie but after reading her story in all the forum comments, I am sad she has passed on and I extend my sympathies to family and friends. RIP Ms Effie

  4. Cheri Taylor

    From what I read and understand, Ms. Effie is the widow of Archibald Mcrainey NOT the widow of one of his sons. She was very much younger than he was.

    1. Lee McKinnon

      No She was the widow of Malcom Angus MCRainey, which was Malcom Archibald’s son. He married her when she was 18. M. Archibald died is 1914.

  5. Marion Odom

    Unfortunately, unless such houses are continually occupied and maintained they reach a point where rehabilitation is prohibitively expensive. Not to mention the fact that there are very few carpenters who know how to do that kind of carpentry – NO MOTORS!

  6. Stan Arline

    I went in this house 20 years ago at that time someone was storing hay and and cattle feed inside it appeared at the time the house could have been saved.A lot of the woodwork inside and out was intricate and beautiful.

  7. tallulaha

    Has anyone approached Mrs. Effie about being allowed to simply photograph it? It looks like a wonderful place with a real story to tell.

    1. Brian Brown Post author

      She’s in her late 80s and doesn’t want to be bothered about the house, which considering the vandalism and looting that has gone on here, is not surprising at all.

  8. Suellen McCranie

    Archibald (McRainey) McCranie was one of many “greats” Grandfather, not sure how many “greats” are in front of Grandfather Archibald. I do appreciate you showing this home and pleased to know that it is part of my family’s history. Thanks so much for posting. Suellen McCranie

  9. Debbie

    Good for Miss Effie. It’s bad enough when nature takes it’s course on history but people that don’t respect these old dwellings can do a lot more damage! great photo Brian!


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