Tag Archives: Georgia Landmarks

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.

Folk Victorian House, 1885, Forsyth

Vinson’s Pharmacy, 1910, Byron

This structure was built by Dr. Moultrie Warren as a medical office and drug store. It was later home to Vinson’s Pharmacy and then Robertson’s Pharmacy. It has been repurposed today as the Drugstore Deli.

Byron Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Historic Storefront, Byron

This looks like it may have been a bank, but I haven’t been able to track down the history.

Byron Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Dr. J. B. Kay’s Obstetric Clinic, 1930s, Byron

This unusual structure, essentially two shotgun offices connected by a central hallway, was built circa 1919. Beginning in the 1930s, it was the office and clinic of Dr. James Benjamin Kay (1890-1960) and was the first obstetrics clinic in Georgia. Dr. Kay delivered over 3500 babies during his long career and also practiced general medicine

Byron Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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.