Category Archives: Sparta GA

First National Bank, 1904, Sparta

These detail shots of the old First National Bank of Sparta illustrate the pride small towns took in their commercial architecture at the turn of the last century. First National Bank was established in late 1903 and dissolved by 1923.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Webster’s Pharmacy, Sparta

Webster’s Pharmacy, with its distinct facade, is a community landmark in downtown Sparta and a favorite with photographers.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Burwell-Goss House, 1906, Sparta

This imposing Neoclassical Revival mansion was built for William H. Burwell, the first man to live here. Burwell served as a mayor of Sparta and a state representative.It has recently been purchased after years of limbo, and will soon be restored.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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The Little Red House, Circa 1797 (& Later), Sparta

It’s no longer red, but to my understanding, this has always been known as “The Little Red House”. One section of the house is an early log cabin, purportedly dating to circa 1797. The addition was made later, probably before the Civil War, and may have been done to accommodate an office. Sistie Hudson notes that it will soon be home to a museum of local history.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Smith-Beall House, Circa 1830, Sparta

This house is a longtime Sparta landmark, located on Monument Square. Mr. Smith was the builder of the courthouse in Sparta.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Collins Records & Tapes, Sparta

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Sparta Female Model School Dormitory, Circa 1815 & 1832

The Sparta Female Academy was established in 1832 by Sereno Taylor of Vermont. [Various sources also refer to it as the Taylor Female Academy, Sparta Female College, and Sparta Female Seminary]. It was supported by the Baptists. This and another renovated dormitory are all that survive of the historic boarding school. A preliminary evaluation by architect Brandy Morrison suggests that the rear section of this house is the earliest, circa 1815, with the front being added circa 1831.

After many years of neglect, the structure is finally getting some much-needed attention. Amber Rhea and Stacia Smith initiated a process of preservation in early 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has halted progress but Rhea and Smith are determined to see it through, whatever that entails.

A broadside dating to 8 December 1838 heralds the school’s reorganization and an enlargement of the course of study. The seven disciplines: Language; Mathematics; Cosmics; History; Geotics; Government; and Philosophy. Sereno Taylor was superintendent and a teacher in the Literary and Musical Departments. Five assistants were on staff, as well, with the expected arrival, in early 1839, of Madame Salmon Hantute of Paris, for the teaching of the French Language, Piano Forte, and Singing.

Annual tuition varied, dependent upon the level of instruction. It ranged from $25 for primary instruction to $125 for collegiate instruction. Musical instrument training was also on order, beginning with the piano forte, advancing to guitar, harp, and finally, organ.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Montour Mill House & Store, Circa 1857, Sparta

Montour Mill House, Circa 1857; photographed in 2014. 

When I photographed these forlorn structures in 2014, I felt they had an important history but also realized they probably didn’t have a promising future. My fears were confirmed last week when James Woodall reported they had been torn down.


Montour Mill Store, Circa 1857; photographed in 2014.

Further conversation with Karen West and Sistie Hudson highlight their importance and the tragedy of their loss. The structures were apparently the last two survivors of the antebellum Montour Mill village. The mill, chartered in 1857, was anchored by a four-story brick factory building. It was likely devastated by the Civil War and attempted a return to production, but was finished by 1884. The property and village was large enough to have been considered as a location for Georgia Tech in 1883. In Houses of Hancock 1785-1865, John Rozier notes: Even in ruins, the big brick factory was a Sparta landmark until it was taken down in 1951.

Karen West: It was originally a mill store owned and operated by a Jewish immigrant. He wrote 15 articles for the Sparta Ishmaelite about life in Czarist Russia. He extended credit to whoever needed it, regardless of race or religion. So sad to see a piece of Sparta history so disregarded. Hopefully someone has pictures of earlier, happier times for that little store.

Sistie Hudson: I took pictures, too—have admired it since I was a little girl…Jacob Nagurya [also written as Nagiiryn] was a Polish Jew. He was a favorite of Editor Sidney Lewis, hence the articles in the Ishmaelite. He owned the first phonograph in the county and sold them as well. He also served as rabbi for the Jewish Community in Sparta. I remember when there was still a row of mill houses across the street from this store. I am so sad about this loss—I have admired it for over 60 years.

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St. Mark’s A. M. E. Church, Sparta

Founded by freedmen circa 1867, St. Mark’s was one of the first A. M. E. congregations in Hancock County and was a major social and cultural influence on the newly emancipated African-American community of Sparta. The present structure dates to either 1892 or 1901.

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Rossiter House, Circa 1797, Sparta

This house, said to be the oldest in Sparta, has grown up around an original log structure, through tasteful additions over the centuries. Built for Dr. Timothy Rossiter, it was purchased by Elias Boyer in 1812. It is sometimes referred to as the Rossiter-Little House, as the Little family owned it from the 1830s until the late 20th century.

In The Architecture of Middle Georgia: The Oconee Area, (University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1972) John Linley identifies the lattice work on the front of the house as “sheaf of wheat” and notes that it is a light and delicate but unexpectedly sturdy type lattice which seems particularly suitable to the South. [It is] too generally underappreciated and a rapidly disappearing feature of many antebellum homes. It is present on a few houses in Hancock and Baldwin counties.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

 

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