Category Archives: –OGLETHORPE COUNTY GA–

Shotgun Store, Philomath

Even though it has newer front doors, this structure fits the “shotgun” profile associated with many stores and commissaries in late-19th- and early-20th-century Georgia. The style was also commonly used for warehouses. Until I learn more, I’m identifying it as a store.

Historic Storefronts, Lexington

The historic building on the right is clad in granite, a common building material in this area, which is located near the western extent of the Lexington-Oglesby Blue Granite Belt.

Lexington Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Craftsman Bungalow, Lexington

Lexington Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

A. J. Gillen Department Store, 1907, Maxeys

The Victorian commercial building on the right was originally home to the A. J. Gillen Department Store. In naming it a Place in Peril, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation noted: The building currently sits vacant. Due to Maxeys’ isolated location, the large size of the building and its deteriorating condition, attracting a business to the A.J. Gillen Department Store is a challenge. Without that investment, the building will continue to deteriorate.

I made this photograph several years ago and haven’t been through Maxeys in some time. I believe there was an effort to restore it, but do not know of any progress.

Colonial Revival House, 1904, Maxeys

Saxon, Georgia

Saxon is a crossroads settlement located just south of the Broad River. This old store/filling station is about all that remains. I believe it dates to circa 1930.

Pass Brothers General Store & Warehouse, Circa 1930s, Vesta

Vesta was formally established in the late 19th century and had a post office from 1888-1904. According to Kenneth Krakow’s Georgia Place Names: Their History and Origins, it was named for Vesta Johnson, the daughter of a local settler. Darryl James McKoon writes: [This was the] Pass Brothers General Store. The store, general merchandise, a butcher shop, and Gulf branded gasoline, was on the right, storage building on the left. It is now used for community BBQ events.There was an old multiple story wood cotton gin to the right of the store where the residence is now. Back in the day it was quite busy. Belt driven equipment by a three cylinder upright diesel engine with a two cylinder backup.Long gone, across the street to the right of the flag pole, was a large wooden structure that was also a Pass Brothers General Store. The owners were the older generation of the owners across the street.

Both structures date to the 1930s-1940s, from what I’ve been able to locate. They are examples of the use of local granite in construction throughout the area.

Vesta Baptist Church, 1912, Oglethorpe County

This congregation was established in 1906.

Smithonia, Oglethorpe County

Situated on some of the most idyllic land in Oglethorpe County, the historic property known as Smithonia was for a time perhaps the largest single farm in Georgia, eventually encompassing nearly thirty square miles. It was a self-contained enterprise, with its own railroad, commissary, and enough tenants to necessitate a post office, which operated from 1889-1907.

This may have been the post office. I will update when I can confirm.

James Monroe Smith (Jim) was born in 1839 near Washington, Georgia. The lifelong bachelor built an agricultural empire on the gently rolling hills around this exceptionally large house (built circa 1866), and by the turn of the century was a millionaire. The three large brick barns (the first a stable) were built circa 1888 at the height of the farm’s productivity. They remain its most significant architectural legacy.

The primary means by which Smith amassed his fortune was the use of laborers he “rented”from the state’s prison camps, and nearly all of them were African-American. Many had been Smith’s slaves on whom the irony of being back in his “employee” was surely not lost.

Smith’s wealth and desire for influence led him to politics and he served terms in both the Georgia house and senate. He made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1906.

He died on the farm in 1915 and due to his bachelor status, his estate was unsettled for many years. Numerous claims were made for his land and considerable fortune.

Numerous owners have owned parts of the property over the years, including country music legend Kenny Rogers. The most recent owners, Pam and Dink NeSmith have made improvements to various aspects of the sprawling landmark and have recently listed it for sale.

National Register of Historic Places