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.
When I photographed this structure nearly six years ago (29 March 2010) I had no knowledge of its history. I identified it as a farmhouse, which was partially true. That was its later purpose. But the more interesting story was shared by Jessica McDaniel, who does an excellent job documenting her corner of the world at Southwest Georgia in Photographs (see link at the end of the article and please check it out). She wrote on 18 July 2011: This is…the New Salem School. It has since been moved to the Blakely Highway…It was one of the many Baker County one-room school houses. I believe that it’s the only one still standing besides the Elmodel Masonic Lodge.
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.
I’m not sure if the house or windmill is still standing.