Tag Archives: Georgia Houses

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.

Folk Victorian House, 1885, Forsyth

Poole-Barnes House, 1910, Byron

The Neoclassical Revival house was popular among wealthy Georgians in the early 20th century and myriad variations of the form can be found in small towns and cities alike. This one is presently being restored and is a great example.

Byron Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Peavy-Robertson House, 1887, Byron

Byron Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Richardson House, 1867, Byron

This raised cottage was built by Dr. Charles Hyatt Richardson (1830-1886), a native of Sumter, South Carolina. Dr. Richardson was the first doctor and first mayor of Byron. Local citizens wanted to name the town Richardsonville in his honor, but he suggested it be named for Lord Byron, the English poet.

A raised Georgian Greek Revival cottage, it’s one of the finest homes in Byron and is wonderfully maintained. The side wing and Victorian fretwork were added circa 1890. Sources date it to 1867 and note it was built for one of his sons, but his sons were not even teenagers in 1867. Later owners have been the Warren (descendants of Dr. Richardson) and Collins families.

Byron Historic District, National Register of Historic Places.

Eclectic Victorian House, Circa 1870, Rome

The only background I can locate on this house dates it to circa 1870, but I believe it could be of earlier construction. The Queen Anne porch posts give the house a Victorian look but the eave brackets suggest a more Italianate origin. I hope to learn more about it.

Between the Rivers Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Chief James Vann House, 1804, Spring Place

[This replaces a post by the same title originally published on 19 February 2019.]

James Vann (1765, or,1768-1809) was the son of a Cherokee mother, Wa-wli, and Scottish father, Clement Vann. By 1800  he became a principal leader of the Cherokee, due to his wealth and influence as a planter, tavern keeper, trading post operator, and general entrepreneur. In fact, he was thought to be the wealthiest of all Cherokee.

Chief James Vann House, Front Elevation

This home, the first of brick construction in the Cherokee nation, was built between 1804-1806. It served as the seat of James Vann’s extensive plantation on Diamond Hill. It was called the “Showplace of the Cherokee Nation”. Its success was dependent upon the labor of over 100 enslaved people, who were housed in 42 dwellings on the property. Vann was known to be quite cruel to his slaves, or to tolerate cruelty among his overseers, and this is rightfully reinforced through interpretation at the property today. Sometimes described as a “hard drinking business man”, he nonetheless encouraged cultural and educational opportunities for the Cherokee, through his assistance in the establishment of the Moravian mission and school at Spring Place. James Vann was murdered in 1809, presumably as retaliation for killing his brother-in-law in a duel the previous year. He left his home and property to his son Joseph (often referred to as Rich Joe). Joseph was also a Cherokee chieftain. An overnight visit by President James Monroe, traveling from Augusta to Nashville in 1819, was indicative of the prominence of the family and the quality of the house.

Chief James Vann House, Rear Elevation

It is believed that a man named Vogt [possibly James Vann’s brother-in-law Charles Vogt] and Dr. Henry Chandlee Forman were involved in the construction of the house.

Stairway, Chief James Vann House

Diaries of Moravian missionaries at Spring Place indicate that Byhan and Martin Schneider were also instrumental in the construction. It incorporates both Federal and Georgian design elements.

Foyer, Chief James Vann House

A Moravian settler named Robert Henry Howell is believed to have been the brick mason. The stylish interior elements were added during the ownership of Joseph (Rich Joe) Vann and may have been the work of John and James McCartney. Further documentation of this is needed.

Dining Room, Chief James Vann House, with portrait of Joseph Vann

After the Cherokee were driven west on the Trail of Tears, the house was sold and over the next century would have 17 different owners.

Drawing Room, Chief James Vann House

By the time Dr. J. E. Bradford, who had purchased the home in 1920, sold it to the Georgia Historical Commission in 1952, it was in a state of serious disrepair.

Bedroom, Chief James Vann House

An historically accurate restoration of the interior began in 1958 and was completed circa 1964.

The Slave Experience at the Chief Vann House

Re-creation of Kitchen/Workhouse, Chief James Vann House

The historic site uses three-dimensional models and the words of Moravian missionaries to interpret the slave experience at the Vann House. North Georgia was not a stronghold of slavery, so the example of the Vann plantation is exceptional. The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story by Tiya Miles, focuses on this subject, and incorporates previously overlooked primary sources.

Patience, a woman enslaved by James Vann

While the kitchen is very stylized and includes typical interpretive aids related to work, it stands out for the figures representing specific slaves who lived on the property along with brief anecdotes about their lives. The Moravian missionaries wrote in the their mission journal on 25 November 1810: “...a person named Patience caused us to feel much pity. She arrived in Charleston with some other Africans some years ago in the wintertime and afterward came to Vann’s plantation barefooted. She lost both of her feet because of the frost and now has to scoot on her knees…

Pleasant, a woman enslaved by Moravian missionaries John and Anna Gambold at Spring Place

Though the Moravians frowned upon individual members owning slaves, the church could purchase and assign them to missionary families as needed, and their views were ultimately aligned with those of other whites of the time. A middle-aged woman named Pleasant (1758?-1838) was purchased in April 1805 by the Home Church in Salem, North Carolina, and came to Spring Place to serve the missionary couple John and Anna Gambold. She was pregnant at the time. On 21 December 1805 Christian Lewis Benzien wrote to the Unity Elders Conference of the Moravian Church: On Sept. 29 on the way to Spring Place [Pleasant] gave birth to a mulatto infant which was baptized in Spring Place on October 20 with the name Michael…

Michael, son of Pleasant, enslaved by the Gambold family at Spring Place

Michael was given the honor of learning to read and often read the Bible to the Cherokee children at the Moravian school and was highly regarded by his owners, but typical of teenagers, he grew restless. In 1819, at the age of 14, he ran away from the Gambolds and when captured was sold away from Pleasant.

Reconstructed Historic Structures of Chief Vann House State Historic Site

Coahulla Creek corn crib (reconstruction), representative of an early 1800s Cherokee corn crib

To illustrate the contemporary vernacular architecture that would have been present on the Vann property, the Georgia State Parks division has reconstructed representative structures from the area, and built at least one from the ground up [kitchen], for this purpose.

Little Scarecorn Creek Cabin (reconstruction), representative of an early 1800s Cherokee dwelling

The vernacular architectural forms and the use of available material are representative not only of the Cherokee of the area but of the increasing numbers of white settlers, as well.

Sugar Creek Cabin (reconstruction), early 1800s Cherokee building

National Register of Historic Places

Hamilton-Squires House, 1910, Dalton

Thornton Avenue-Murray Hill Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

McCutchen House, 1867, Dalton

This Italianate home was built for Judge Cicero Decatur McCutchen (31 October 1824-17 March 1898) with bricks made on the property. It remained in the McCutchen family for well over a century.

Thornton Avenue-Murray Hill Historic District, National Register of Historic Places