Tag Archives: Antebellum Georgia

Elizabeth Durden House, 1840s, Emanuel County

Local historians have referred to this as the Barwick House but it is best known as the Elizabeth Durden House. Elizabeth Ann Barwick Durden (16 December 1820-20 December 1909) was the daughter of Nathan B. Barwick, Sr., (3 August 1782-5 April 1868) and Elizabeth Whiddon Barwick (1782?-October 1880). Theirs was a large and prosperous family of pioneer settlers who came to Emanuel County (Bulloch, at the time), from Dubose Ferry, South Carolina, circa 1810. His obituary noted that he lived in the fork of the Ohoopee River and that he was buried on the land on which he lived, which is not this property. Elizabeth Ann Barwick married William Durden (15 August 1817-October 1864) in 1838 and they likely built the house soon thereafter. They had 12 children, 11 of whom lived to adulthood.

NOTE: The house is located on private property and is not accessible to the public in any way. I’m grateful to two of Mrs. Durden’s great-great grandsons, Hudak Hendrix and Von Wilson, for arranging my visit, and to the property owners for allowing me to photograph it.

It is likely the second oldest surviving structure in Emanuel County [after the Rountree House near Twin City] and may be slightly older than the date I have indicated, perhaps as early as 1838.

Original section of house, southeast corner

It has remained in the ownership of Mrs. Durden’s descendants throughout its existence and their good stewardship has made possible its survival.

Original section of house, front

It is of statewide importance as a vernacular dwelling, especially since the owners have been sensitive to retaining the original walls and footprint of the house.

Original section of house, northeast corner. Note the lack of chinking on the rear wall, possible because of the shed kitchen behind it.

As it stands, even with the modifications, it’s one of a very small number of log structures of this era remaining in Georgia.

Original section of house, southwest corner. Windows have obviously been replaced, but have the same placement as the originals as best I can tell. .

Shed rooms [next two images] and a modern chimney have been added to the original single-pen log house over its long history.

Shed room [bedroom], west side of house

Shed rooms were common additions to utilitarian structures and were usually porches which were transformed into rooms by the addition of new walls.

Shed room [kitchen], rear of house

The kitchen is of particular interest, as it contains the original rear wall of the house. As was the convention of the time, a free-standing kitchen originally served the Durdens but it has long since vanished.

The front porch, though featuring a new roof and floor, appears to retain its original footprint, as well.

The photograph below has become an iconic Georgia image. It graces the cover of Vanishing Georgia, [no relation to my website], a book highlighting the amazing collection of vintage photographs of the same name held at the time of publication by the the Georgia Department of Archives and History and now in the stewardship of the University of Georgia.

Elizabeth Durden with her grandson, Verdie Ricks, on her front porch, circa 1900. Copy of a family photograph, shared with permission.

D’Antignac House, Circa 1830, Augusta

This fine antebellum home, unusual for Augusta with its cast iron verandah, was built by grocery wholesaler William Sterling Roberts. [A plaque on the house dates it to circa 1830, the National Register nomination form places it at 1856, while Historic Augusta dates it to circa 1860; stay tuned for an update on this, but my guess is its Greek Revival style would place it nearer the earlier date.] After the war, it was home to the Platt family for a time, and later, Porter Fleming, and a Walker family. The D’Antignac family owned it for much of the 20th century. It is now an attorney’s office.

Greene Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

John Phinizy House, Circa 1835, Augusta

One of Augusta’s most important architectural landmarks, the raised Greek Revival home of John Phinizy (7 January 1793-4 July 1884) is thought to be the work of the great Irish-born Georgia architect Charles Cluskey, though this has not been confirmed to my knowledge. Phinizy was of Italian descent, his father Ferdinand having migrated to America from Parma.

Soon after John Phinizy’s death, his son Charles H. Phinizy and his wife, Mary Louise Yancey, hired Tiffany & Company to redecorate the interior (circa 1885). They added the top floor in the 1890s. The family remained in the home until 1933. After brief service as a funeral home, it served until 1996 as the Elks Lodge. It has most recently been used as an event space.

Greene Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Stovall-Barnes House, 1860, Augusta

This house was built on the eve of the Civil War for Bolling Anthony Stovall (19 August 1827-24 August 1887), a prominent Piedmont merchant and engineer born in Hancock County to a well-to-do family who had come to Georgia from Virginia. Upon moving to Augusta, he began work as a cotton factor while attending Richmond Academy before entering Franklin College (University of Georgia). He studied civil engineering and worked in Alabama and Mississippi for a few years before returning to Georgia. He was also a surveyor for improvements to the Georgia State Road and worked with Major John G. Greene in the survey of the Atlanta & West Point Railroad. Because employment in engineering was sporadic at the time, he joined his father in his wholesale grocery business at Stovall & McLaughlin in Augusta. At the outset of the war, he entered the Confederate service as a sergeant with Company A, Richmond Hussars, Cobb’s Legion. He was transferred to the engineering corps as a lieutenant under General John Bankhead Magruder during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, before finishing out the war as a captain in the subsistence department under the command of fellow Augustan General Isaac Munroe St. John. He married Mattie Wilson after the war and worked for many years as a traveling agent with the Georgia Chemical Works of Augusta.

Stovall’s son, Pleasant Alexander Stovall (7 July 1857-14 May 1935), lived in the house until his parents left Augusta for Athens, in 1873. He became a prominent journalist and eventual owner of a Savannah newspaper. His childhood friend, President Woodrow Wilson, appointed him Ambassador to Switzerland in 1913, where he served until 1919.

Congressman George T. Barnes purchased the home in 1873 and in the 20th century it was used as a residential hotel/boarding house.

Greene Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Union Baptist Church, 1851 & 1888, Augusta

The original section of this structure, dating to circa 1851, served as a mission of the Presbyterian Church, and though that congregation was not successful, the location was used as a Sunday School for enslaved Blacks during the Civil War. It later served as the Greene Street Methodist church before it became the Union Baptist Church in 1883. The Augusta architectural firm of MacMurphy & Story created the exquisite structure seen today in 1888. The Society of Architectural Historians considers it “one of the finest Carpenter Gothic buildings in the state” and I concur. Historic Augusta, Inc., restored the structure for the congregation between 1997-2010.

Greene Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Future of Milledgeville’s Lamar House Remains Uncertain

Zachariah Lamar House, Circa 1806-1810

This house has been in rough shape for as long as I can remember, having been a rental property for many years, but I always knew it was architecturally significant and of historical importance. Despite having lost all its historic interior elements and featuring a non-historic rear addition, the house is an important link not only to the earliest days of Milledgeville but to two important families integral to the political and cultural life of 19th-century Georgia and is worth saving.

A couple of years ago my friend David Bray noted that plans for demolition were on the horizon, and preservationist Scott Reed recently reached out to let me know that hearings on its fate were moving forward. The present owners of the property, Georgia Military College (GMC), have plans to turn the property into a parking lot but Bray notes that as of now, demolition of the house has been stopped, largely due to efforts of the Milledgeville Historic Preservation Commission and concerned citizens. He notes that GMC is willing to save the structure. Still, plans for its future, which involve several options, remain uncertain. Proposals are being considered at this time. [This is an ongoing process, and updates will be included as they become available].

As to the history of the house, an exact date is unknown, but it was built for Zachariah Lamar (1769-29 October 1838), who purchased the lot on which it stands in 1806. Considering Lamar’s involvement with the committee which designed the plans for the city of Milledgeville [established 1804], it seems the house is likely contemporary to his purchase of the property or soon thereafter, placing it circa 1806-1810.

In addition to his interests in retail, taverns, saloons, agriculture, and banking, Lamar served as a judge and in the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia Senate. He was directly involved with the formation of the Bank of the State of Georgia, the first “upcountry” bank in the state. He was also one of the managers of the ball which honored the Marquis de LaFayette* on the occasion of his visit to Milledgeville in 1825.

[The 1 April 1825 edition of the Milledgeville Georgian notes of the visit of 27-29 March: “General Lafayette arrived in Milledgeville on Sunday last, at noon. It is needless to say he received a hearty and enthusiastic welcome…he was met by the Cavalry of Baldwin County, who escorted him into the town, and that his approach was announced by the firing of cannon, ringing of bells, &e. The General rode in an open carriage, accompanied by the Governor, and followed by the military and civil procession, as previously arranged. In the evening he attended service at the Methodist Chapel- the town was illuminated, and on Monday he was to dine with the citizens, in an extensive arbor prepared in the State House square. A splendid Ball and supper were to be given him in Monday evening- the Senate Chamber and Hall of representatives having been tastefully prepared for the occasion. Several volunteer companies from the neighboring counties had arrived to assist in paying honor to the Guest of the Nation.]

Zachariah Lamar House, Perspective view showing non-historic rear addition

At his death he owned around 15,000 acres of land, dependent on the labor of 220 slaves. One of his sons, John Basil Lamar, served in the Georgia legislature and very briefly in the United States House of Representatives, and died at the Battle of Crampton’s Gap during the Civil War. He was also one of the so-called Georgia Humorists. His daughter, Mary Ann Lamar, was married to Howell Cobb [the namesake of Cobb County].

Hills and Dales Estate, 1916, LaGrange

Fuller & Ida Cason Callaway’s Hills and Dales Estate is one of the great landscape and architectural treasures of Georgia, not to be missed. Ferrell Gardens, from which the property evolved, was established in the 1840s and developed and nurtured over decades. Owned by Judge Blount Coleman Ferrell (January 1816-19 September 1908) and his wife (and double first cousin) Sarah Coleman Ferrell (October 1817-7 December 1903), the gardens were the creation and domain of “Miss Sarah”, as Mrs. Ferrell was affectionately known. They are characterized by boxwood parterres formally set into a gently sloping terrain.

During the time of the Ferrells, the gardens were open to the public and were nationally known. They were even the setting of a novel, Vesta, written by Sarah’s sister, Florida P. Reed, in 1894.

It is considered one of the best preserved 19th century gardens in the United States and is a masterwork of landscape architecture.

Fuller Callaway, who spent time in the gardens with “Miss Sarah” as a boy, purchased the property in 1912 from the Ferrell estate and commissioned Neel Reid and Hal Hentz of the firm of Hentz, Reid, and Adler to design a home that would be worthy of the surrounding landscape.

The end result was this 13,000-square-foot mansion, inspired by the work of Charles Adams Platt and designed to complement the gardens. The Callaways named the estate Hills and Dales, for its sunny hills and shady dales.

Dwarf English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’) is the signature plant in Ferrell Gardens.

Other species include American Boxwood, Tree Boxwood, Spanish Boxwood, and Curly Leaf Boxwood.

There are over 2 1/2 acres of boxwood parterres on the grounds.

A few other iconic species present include: China Fir, Tea Plant, Southern Magnolia, Gingko, Camellia, Banana Shrub, and Tea Olive.

This hedge spells out the word GOD.

In addition to the boxwood parterres, flowering plants can be found in season scattered around the estate.

The gardens have brought much joy in their nearly two centuries of existence and show no signs of slowing down.

Ida Cason Callaway and her daughter-in-law Alice Hand Callaway would be very proud of the legacy they have left behind.

Upon Ida’s death in 1936, her son Fuller Jr. and his wife, Alice Hand Callaway, moved into the home and raised their family here.

After Fuller Jr.’s death in 1992, Alice spent much of her time restoring the house and maintaining the gardens.

It was their wish that the property, while remaining in the family, would be open to the public, and since Alice’s death in 1998, that vision has become reality.

Thanks are due to Mark McDonald of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, Hills and Dales Executive Director Carleton B. Wood, and all the wonderful staff, for making my visit such a memorable experience. If you haven’t been to Hills and Dales, you should seriously consider a visit. There’s nothing else like it in Georgia.

Vernon Road Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Thomas T. Napier House, 1826, Forsyth

This is one of the most outstanding Greek Revival houses in Georgia and is well-maintained. I believe it was built by Thomas T. Napier, whose Virginia-born father, Thomas Napier, owned over 6000 acres in Bibb and surrounding counties at the time of his death in 1838. Thomas T. Napier also built a home in Ringgold in 1836. I will do my best to clarify this history when I can better discern the genealogy.

St. Paul A. M. E. Church, 1852 & 1899, Rome

St. Paul A. M. E. is the most historic Black church in Rome, established in 1884. A plaque placed by the Rome Area Heritage Foundation notes that this church was built incorporating the sanctuary of the1852 Rome Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and that it was purchased by St. Paul in 1884. A cornerstone dates the building to 1899 and I believe that is when it took on its present appearance. Perhaps this indicates the year that the steeple was added.

Between the Rivers Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Ainsworth E. Blunt House, 1848, Dalton

Ainsworth Emory Blunt, Sr., (22 February 1800-21 December 1865) was born in Amherst, New Hampshire and in the 1820s came to Chattanooga as a missionary with the American Board of Foreign Missions to teach English, religion, and agriculture to Cherokee natives of the Brainerd Mission. After traveling with some of the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears, he returned to Chattanooga and helped establish the First Presbyterian Church there. He moved to Dalton, then known as Cross Plains, around 1843, and built a successful mercantile business with his son-in-law Benjamin Morse.

Blunt served as the first mayor and first postmaster of Dalton. He built this Federal Style house, the second oldest house and the first two-story example in Dalton, in 1848. In 1863 and 1864, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and his staff were entertained by the Blunt family in this home. After the Confederates pushed south toward Atlanta, Union forces used the house as a field hospital. It remained in the ownership of Blunt’s descendants until 1978. The house is now a museum operated by the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society.

National Register of Historic Places