Berrien House, Circa 1791, Savannah

Considered one of Georgia’s most iconic houses, the Berrien House was built circa 1791 for Major John Berrien (1759-1815), a hero of the Revolutionary War.

Major Berrien left college in New Jersey to enlist in the American Revolution. Quickly rising through the ranks, he was commissioned Captain of the first Georgia Continental Brigade in 1777, under the command of Lachlan McIntosh. Berrien followed General McIntosh to Washington’s Headquarters and served, at age 18, as Brigadier Major of North Carolina Troops at Valley Forge and Monmouth. Washington is believed to have made his headquarters in Berrien’s ancestral New Jersey home, Rockingham, and may have written his Farewell Orders to the Armies from that location. The Berriens were close personal friends of General Washington. After the war, Berrien returned to Savannah with his family and became very prominent in local affairs. He was Collector of Customs and an alderman and also served as state treasurer at Louisville (1796-1799).

John Macpherson Berrien, by John Maier, 1870. Public Domain

Major Berrien’s son, John Macpherson Berrien (1781-1856), began the practice of law at Louisville in 1799. After service in the War of 1812, Berrien was elected to the Georgia senate and served as a United States senator from 1825-1829. From 1829-1831, he served as Andrew Jackson’s attorney general; from 1845-1852, he again served in the United States senate. Berrien County is named for him.

The home, which was in bad condition for many years, has been exquisitely restored by one of Berrien’s descendants, Andrew Berrien Jones, and is a wonderful example of preservation.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

Henry Strickland House, Circa 1790, Madison County

This familiar landmark in Danielsville was purportedly built by Revolutionary War veteran Henry Peter Strickland circa 1790, predating the creation of Madison County. Strickland and his wife Mary had eight children.

Additions to the house, prominently the front porch and posts, have led some to surmise the house to have been built later than its stated construction date of 1790, but local tradition suggests that it may in fact be of late-18th-century vintage. The Preservation Committee for the Madison County Heritage Foundation has shared these details, from an architectural survey: The interior of the building features 16-inch boards, no longer available, and the wood used upstairs has never been painted or stained. A set of ”dog leg” stairs leading to the upper floor has weakened with time. And although it is the only access to the top level, the stairs now remain unused for lack of repair.

Whatever its history, it is an important local landmark and will hopefully be preserved. I understand that the county has strongly advocated for the preservation of the house, but do not know details of its current status.

Jacob Burkhalter House, Circa 1778, Warrenton

Though it has been moved from its original location, the home of Revolutionary War veteran Jacob Burkhalter is the oldest in Warrenton. In March 1825 the Marquis de Lafayette stayed at the Burkhalter House while traveling by stagecoach from Augusta to Milledgeville on the Southern leg of his American tour. Dan Muller, the present owner, has done a lot of sensitive restoration and stabilization work on the house.

Stagecoach Inn, 1780s, Warrenton

This historic stagecoach inn would have seen lots of business after it was built on the old Milledgeville-Augusta route in the 1780s. I’ve found very little history for such an important survivor, and what I have found seems apocryphal, but as always will update when I learn more.

Amanda shared this historic photograph, which was share with her by previous owners.

Little Brier Creek Baptist Church, Warren County

Established in 1777, Little Brier Creek Baptist Church is the oldest in Warren County.

Hampton Point Plantation Ruins, St. Simons Island

There is a small section of an original tabby wall on the right of the drive into the modern gated community at Hampton Point Plantation. Owners at some point incorporated tabby fencing (the lower section to the right).

On the left of the entrance to the gated community is a much larger section of tabby wall. (Detail below)

 

The Cedars, 1793, 1803 & 1883, Washington

The appearance of this landmark, one of the most iconic houses in Washington, has been altered considerably since the original section was completed by Anthony Poullain circa 1793. It was purchased in 1803 by Savannah merchant John Bolton, who significantly enlarged it for use as a summer retreat. Robert Sims added the Victorian details responsible for its present appearance in 1883. It is currently for sale and was recently listed by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation as a Place in Peril.

National Register of Historic Places

Ruins of Wormsloe, 1740s, Savannah

Noble Jones was one of the original settlers of Georgia, coming to the colony with General James Oglethorpe in 1733. He applied for a land grant on the southern end of the Isle of Hope but the grant wasn’t formally approved by George II until 1756. Construction on the fortified tabby-and-wood house began around 1739 and was completed around 1745. The fortifications were seen as a necessary foil for a potential Spanish invasion.

Jones named the plantation Wormslow. It was originally thought that this was a reference to the silkworms that optimistic early colonists hoped would make Georgia a leading producer of silk, but in fact it was a prominent place name in the English-Welsh borderlands from which the Joneses came to the New World.

Noble’s son, Noble Wimberly Jones (c. 1723-1805) was the next owner and spent little time at the estate, preferring life in the city of Savannah. His sister, Mary Jones Bulloch also had a life estate in the property. The ruins of the first house remain today as material evidence of Georgia’s earliest days.

In contrast to his loyalist father, Noble W. Jones was a Whig, and after service in the provincial and state legislature pursued a career in medicine. He was elected to the Continental Congress but was unable to serve. Still, his dedication to the cause of revolution earned him the moniker “Morning Star of Liberty”.

George Jones, son of Noble Wimberly, was the next owner, and his son, George Frederick Tilghman Jones changed the spelling from Wormslow to Wormsloe. He also changed his own name to George Wymberly Jones and then added the surname De Renne. He was an active builder of improved structures on the property and was a large slave owner. De Renne was also an important collector of early Georgia documents and manuscripts, reprinting many rare items. The family is still involved in these pursuits to this day. A later descendant, Wymberly Wormsloe De Renne fell on financial hard times just before the Great Depression and opened the estate, with the fine gardens he had developed, to the public. Wormsloe Gardens became a prominent tourist attraction. Wormsloe House remains in the family but the surrounding grounds became a state historic site in 1979. One of the best events in Savannah, the annual Colonial Fare & Muster is staged here each year.

National Register of Historic Places

 

Wellborn Plantation, Circa 1795, Warrenton

This is one of Warrenton’s oldest and most historic homes. It was once the center of a large working plantation. In 1858, the owner,  George Washington Hardaway, willed the plantation to his daughter, Frances Markham Hardaway Wellborn (Mrs. Marshall Wellborn).

 

 

Hanover Square, 1771, Brunswick

Laid out in 1771 with a modified version of Oglethorpe’s “Savannah Plan”, Brunswick has worked hard in recent  years reclaiming as many of its historic squares as possible. Hanover Square is the jewel in the crown, being the least altered of the original squares. A non-profit preservation group, Signature Squares of Historic Brunswick, actively promotes these public parks and is engaged in ongoing research to restore them.

Of Hanover Square, they note: [It] is one of the two large squares in Old Town Brunswick that retains its original size and shape. It was named to honor Britain’s ruling House of Hanover during the reign of King George II, when the Colony of Georgia was established. Initially, Hanover Square was the hub of official city and county business. The county courthouse, jail and stockyards were located in the square until the late 19th century.

As Brunswick grew and prospered, its citizens began to feel that the muddy, trampled stockyard and shabby wooden buildings did not represent an up-and-coming city properly. In 1882, the Ladies Park Association campaigned for the removal of the courthouse from Hanover Square and raised funds to purchase materials to beautify the area, which was referred to as “Hanover Park.” The city drilled a deep artesian well, topped with an ornate fountain, that yielded water rich with minerals that were thought to be therapeutic for certain diseases. When the projects were completed in 1885, the park’s title was returned to the city.

For decades, Hanover Square was the heart of public gatherings in the city. Church socials and concerts in the bandstand filled the evenings with laughter and music. The gardens were expanded and modified to reflect landscape tastes of each era. Brunswick’s residents stood guard over Hanover Square numerous times when transportation projects threatened the integrity and boundaries of the historic space.

In the mid-20th century, the city’s population growth trended northward and Hanover, like other original squares, fell into decline. As Signature Squares was organized to save the parks and squares within the Historic District of Brunswick, Hanover Square became its first project. The fountain was restored, walkways were replaced and the rose garden was replanted. More work is planned for the future to return the square to its full glory.

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Brunswick Old Town Historic District, National Register of Historic Places