Tag Archives: Georgia Museums

Blue & Gray Museum, Fitzgerald

Seal of the City of Fitzgerald, created by David Jay

Fitzgerald was settled as an “Old Soldiers’ Colony” by a Union veteran and was known in its early days as a place of reconciliation, where veterans from both sides of the Civil War lived side by side in relative harmony. Fitzgerald’s Blue & Gray Museum, was established in the old Lee-Grant Hotel by Beth Davis in 1960 to document this fascinating history. It’s now located in the restored Atlanta, Birmingham & Atlantic Railway depot. The story is also told on the city seal, designed by David Jay. It depicts a Union and Confederate soldier shaking hands, flanked by the flags of their respective sides. The museum has evolved over the years to include other aspects of local history.

Encampment hat, United Confederate Veterans

The early settlers of Fitzgerald were very involved in commemorating the Civil War. Union settlers were members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and the Women’s Relief Corps (WRC) and Southern settlers were part of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).

Union Civil War drum, restored

Henry Bruner, the last Union veteran in the colony died in 1940, and William Joshua Bush, the last surviving Confederate veteran in Georgia, died at the age of 107 in 1952. Personal items belonging to these men, and other veterans, are part of the museum collection.

Roll Call of the States

Beth Davis was focused on the early history of the community, and initiated a “Roll Call of the States” to reflect the diverse background of the pioneers. It was her tradition to photograph people from other states when they visited. This was also a part of the pageant Davis wrote to celebrate the city’s history, “Our Friends, the Enemy”.

Hall of Honor, Blue & Gray Museum. This represents a tent used by pioneer settlers before permanent structures were completed.

Alongside Civil War relics, ephemera related to the town’s commercial and educational history are a big part of the collection. Fitzgerald’s large railroad presence is also highlighted.

Household dishes, clothing, and Railroad uniform

Local sports teams are also featured, including the 1948 state champion Fitzgerald High School football team, as well as the minor league baseball team, the Fitzgerald Pioneers.

Fitzgerald High School letter man’s jacket, 1948

It took many years, and is still incomplete, but the story of Fitzgerald’s black community is now included in the museum. This is an area that I hope to see expanded through community input.

Prominent black citizens, circa 1940s

I’ve served on the board of the Blue & Gray board for nearly ten years and am proud of my hometown’s history and my connection to it. I spent many afternoons with Beth Davis, often taking her home because she never learned to drive. Beth’s daughter Betty graduated from high school with my father and her daughter Julia graduated with my mother. David Jay was part of a regular tennis doubles group with my father for many years and played as well as most men half his age. Janie Law, stepdaughter of William Joshua Bush, graduated from Fitzgerald High School with my grandmother and was a family friend, as well.

View inside Blue & Gray Museum, showing a mantle from the Lee-Grant Hotel, and the favorite rocking chair of Georgia’s last Confederate veteran, William Joshua Bush. Flags of all 50 states are also visible.

The museum is open from 10-4 on weekdays (excluding holidays) and admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children. Call for more information: 229-423-5069.

Girl Scout First Headquarters, Savannah

The Andrew Low Carriage House*, at 330 Drayton Street, was the site of the first meeting of the troop of eighteen Girl Guides who would soon come to be known as the Girl Scouts. Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon was born into an influential Savannah family on 31 October 1860. Her grandfather was the first president of the Central Railroad and Banking Company of Georgia, and her father, William Washington Gordon II, was a Confederate captain, brigadier-general in the Spanish-American War, and a Georgia legislator. She attended boarding schools in New Jersey and Virginia, and a French finishing school in New York City.

After completing her education, Juliette married William Mackay Low in 1886. Low was the son of Andrew Low, a wealthy cotton factor of Scottish origin who owned homes in Savannah and the United Kingdom. The young couple spent most of their time in England and Scotland. The union turned sour when Juliette discovered that William had moved his mistress into their home. In 1902 she filed for divorce, but William’s health was deteriorating and before the action could be finalized, he died in Wales, in 1905.

In 1911, Juliette Gordon Low met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, and got involved with a troop of Girl Guides in Scotland. She brought the movement to Savannah and the first troop of eighteen Girl Guides met in the carriage house of the Low family mansion on 12 March 1912. The name was changed to the Girl Scouts in 1913. Low’s association with the Girl Scouts continued in various capacities until her death in 1927. The organization has served over 50 million girls in its long history and while it may be best known for its annual cookie sales, has enriched the lives of those who have been associated with it.

The carriage house has served various purposes within the Girl Scouts organization over the years and is presently a museum. It was the first structure in Savannah to receive National Historic Landmark status.

*-Designed by architect John Norris to complement the adjacent Andrew Low House, circa 1848-1849, this structure originally served as the carriage house and living quarters for domestic slaves. Thomas “Tom” Milledge (1818-1886) was the most entrusted of the domestic slaves and after emancipation, remained in the employee of the Low family as a butler. He lived in the carriage house with his wife Mosianna (1844-1909) and their children.

Juliette Gordon Low Historic District, Savannah National Historic Landmark District

Pettigrew-White-Stamps House, Circa 1833, Thomaston

This Greek Revival cottage was built on North Church Street in 1833 by John E. Pettigrew. In 1840, Benjamin B. White purchased the house and added an additional bedroom, dining room, kitchen and verandah across the rear of the structure. The Stamps family bought the house at some point in the 1880s and remained until 1968. During that year, the house was moved to its present location by the Upson Historical Society to save it from demolition. It is the second oldest house in Thomaston.

It is now a museum, open by appointment with the Upson Historical Society.

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

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

Old Stone Church, 1852, Ringgold

This congregation was organized on 2 September 1837 as the Chickamauga Presbyterian Church and is believed to be the first church in what is now Catoosa County. A log cabin and nearby home served as the first meeting places. The organizers were a group of Scotch Irish Presbyterians from Tennessee or the Carolinas and the charter members were Robert Magill, James H. McSpadden, Robert C. Cain, Sarah Black, Alfred McSpadden, Fanny Magill, Susan McSpadden, Winfred Cain, Margaret Cain and Nancy Tipton.

In 1850 construction on this structure began. Member Robert Magi and his brothers hauled limestone quarried at White Oak Mountain to this site and the church was completed in 1852. The church served as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War, and was also commandeered for use by Union troops. The name was changed to Stone Church in 1912 and in 1921 it was transferred to a Methodist congregation. It was used by other congregations subsequently and is now owned and maintained by the Catoosa County Historical Society.

National Register of Historic Places

Talking Rock Schoolhouse, 1877

A sign for the Talking Rock Schoolhouse Teaching Museum notes that the school was established in the community in 1857. The schoolhouse seen here was built in Ludville in 1877 and moved to Talking Rock in 1882. It was restored by retired teachers in 1998.

Kirby-Quinton Cabin, 1830s or 1860s, Jasper

This single-pen log house was originally located on Dunbean Hill on the Old Federal Road between Jasper and Tate. Dunbean Hill was named for Charles “Tsali” Dunbean, a Cherokee who was forced to relocate to Oklahoma in 1838 during the Cherokee Removal. It is thought that he was the builder of the cabin, which would likely date it in its original form to the mid-1830s. The Dunbean Hill property was purchased in 1862 by Stephen Kirby who established the first school in Pickens County, known as Kirby Academy. Around 1870, Kirby expanded the cabin to accommodate his growing family.

Former Congressman Ed Jenkins discovered the log cabin among the ruins of a burned out house on Dunbean Hill and gave the remains to Tom Quinton, a Jasper County Middle School teacher, who restored it for future use as an educational site. After Quinton’s death, the cabin was moved to this location.

Elisha Winn House, Circa 1812, Dacula

The Elisha Winn House was built about 1812 in what was then Jackson County, and is perhaps the oldest extant house in the Atlanta metro area. Winn, who was a Justice of the Inferior Court, purchased the land, with Roger and Elijah Pugh, in 1809. It was part of a 7300 acre tract bordered by the Apalachee River. It became part of Gwinnett County on 15 December 1818, when the Georgia legislature created the counties of Gwinnett, Walton, and Hall, in part from Jackson County, as well as from former Indian lands.

The property is also significant as the first de facto center of government in Gwinnett County, hosting the Inferior Court and the first county elections. A barn on the grounds [no longer extant] hosted the Superior Court. Elisha Winn served as a judge of the Inferior Court from 1820-1825. He also served as a state senator for Gwinnett County in 1826, and a state representative in 1830, 1833, and 1837.

Lawrenceville was established as the Gwinnett County seat in 1821 and the Winns relocated there circa 1824.

Historic Structures Relocated to the Elisha Winn Property

Several structures representative of 19th and early-20th-century history in Gwinnett County have been relocated to the Winn property over the years. A representative mule barn [built in another county in 1917], can be seen in the background of the photo below.

Old Lawrenceville Jail, 1820s

The first jail in Gwinnett County was located on the Winn property but was demolished in 1933 by Jack Sims, who owned it at the time, and his employee Amos Hutchins, who lived most of his life on the old Winn place. As part of a collection of historical buildings, the old Lawrenceville jail [above], built in the 1820s and similar to the original jail, was relocated here for preservation. [Moravian missionaries who refused to get permits to live in Cherokee territory were briefly held in this structure before being transferred to a larger jail in Walton County].

Walnut Grove Schoolhouse, 1875

Typical of rural one-room schoolhouses of the era, the Walnut Grove school was originally located near Walnut Grove Church and the Methodist Campground. It was donated to the Gwinnett Historical Society in 1986 and opened for tours in 1988.

Cotton House, Early 20th Century

Structures of this type would have been present on working cotton plantations and farms in late-19th and early-20th century Gwinnett County. This example was donated to the historical society in 2001.

Alfred R. Clack Blacksmith Shop, Circa 1910

Dr. Donald S. Bickers, who also donated the cotton house, donated this structure to the historical society in 2000. It was built circa 1910 by his grandfather, Alfred R. Clack, who used it until late in his life. He died in 1948 and Dr. Bickers kept the structure in good condition.

National Register of Historic Places [Elisha Winn House, excluding other structures]

Lawrenceville Female Seminary, 1855

A young ladies’ finishing school known as the Lawrenceville Female Seminary was established here in 1838. One of the trustees, Daniel Killian, was responsible for its construction. That structure, apparently very similar to this one, was destroyed by fire and was replaced by the present structure in 1855. It served as a seminary until 1886. In its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, it was described as simple, rather masculine, late-Federal early-Greek Revival. It is the most significant early public structure surviving in Lawrenceville.

The Lawrenceville Masonic Lodge No. 181 began using the second floor in 1860 and made it their home until the 1970s. Over the years the lower floor was occupied by various tenants and was also used as a public gathering place. It serves as the Gwinnett History Museum today.

National Register of Historic Places