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

Burwell-Goss House, 1906, Sparta

This imposing Neoclassical Revival mansion was built for William H. Burwell, the first man to live here. Burwell served as a mayor of Sparta and a state representative.It has recently been purchased after years of limbo, and will soon be restored.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Smithonia, Oglethorpe County

Situated on some of the most idyllic land in Oglethorpe County, the historic property known as Smithonia was for a time perhaps the largest single farm in Georgia, eventually encompassing nearly thirty square miles. It was a self-contained enterprise, with its own railroad, commissary, and enough tenants to necessitate a post office, which operated from 1889-1907.

This may have been the post office. I will update when I can confirm.

James Monroe Smith (Jim) was born in 1839 near Washington, Georgia. The lifelong bachelor built an agricultural empire on the gently rolling hills around this exceptionally large house (built circa 1866), and by the turn of the century was a millionaire. The three large brick barns (the first a stable) were built circa 1888 at the height of the farm’s productivity. They remain its most significant architectural legacy.

The primary means by which Smith amassed his fortune was the use of laborers he “rented”from the state’s prison camps, and nearly all of them were African-American. Many had been Smith’s slaves on whom the irony of being back in his “employee” was surely not lost.

Smith’s wealth and desire for influence led him to politics and he served terms in both the Georgia house and senate. He made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1906.

He died on the farm in 1915 and due to his bachelor status, his estate was unsettled for many years. Numerous claims were made for his land and considerable fortune.

Numerous owners have owned parts of the property over the years, including country music legend Kenny Rogers. The most recent owners, Pam and Dink NeSmith have made improvements to various aspects of the sprawling landmark and have recently listed it for sale.

National Register of Historic Places

Crawford Long Childhood Home, 1810s, Madison County

Also known as the Crawford Long Childhood Home, this Federal style house was built by Madison County pioneer James Long, circa 1817. James long was the father of Dr. Crawford Williamson Long, the first man to successfully use ether as an anesthesia for surgery. The elder Long came to Georgia with his family from Pennsylvania in 1790 and was a successful planter and merchant and was one of the founders of Danielsville in 1812-1813. He was among the first in newly created Madison County (1811) to receive a license to sell liquor. His holdings in the area eventually reached 13,000 acres and at least 22 slaves. He married a local girl, Elizabeth Ware, on 8 December 1813 and their son Crawford was born on 1 November 1815, presumably at an earlier, though undocumented, home the family owned in Danielsville proper.

The land where this house is located wasn’t purchased until December of 1817 and wasn’t located within the city limits. Because of the low tax evaluation of the property at that time, it is presumed the house was not present at the time of the purchase. James Long was active in local politics and early sessions of the Inferior Court met is his home. He served as Clerk of the Superior Court, Danielsville postmaster, and in both houses of the Georgia legislature. According to the nomination form which added the house to the National Register of Historic Places, it is the only extant, authentic structure associated with his [Crawford W. Long’s] life.

After the sale of the house by the Long heirs in 1874, it has had several owners, including the Thurmond, O’Kelley, Thompson, and Sorrow families. They have kept a watchful eye over it. Crawford Long lived in the house until he left for nearby Franklin College (University of Georgia) in 1829. Local oral traditions suggests that Dr. Long was actually born in the house, which would place its construction date in the 1813-1815 range, but since no primary evidence exists to prove this claim, a debate continues. Either way, it’s significant as a residence of one of the most important figures in 19th century American medicine.

Dr. Crawford Williamson Long. Photo Source: A Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography, Volume 2, 1913. Public Domain.

The National Register nomination also notes: Architecturally, the Crawford Long Childhood Home has significance as a refined example of federal period architecture used in the construction of dwellings on the upper frontier portions of Georgia during the nineteenth century. The style of the structure is more refined than other extant vernacular houses of its area. A graphic reconstruction of the structure, with its original federal pedimented porch would reveal a definite change in character from its present appearance and would distinguish it from other houses in that early nineteenth century period and locality. The interior of the building is indicative of an imported eastern taste transferred into the upper Piedmont of Georgia. The wood paneling and graining found in the formal rooms of the house reflect quality craftsmanship and are a noteworthy accomplishment for that early date and time. The two second-story fireplace surrounds also convey a quality of craftsmanship. The smooth finishing of the interior wood indicates great care in construction as well…

National Register of Historic Places

Rockwell Resurgent

I previously featured this house when it was a derelict concern for many historians and preservationists. Though I’m a bit late to the game, I wanted to share a photo of its present state, which gives an idea of the thought and work the new owners have put into its preservation. Some of their work is detailed here.

National Register of Historic Places

Lockett-Hamilton House, 1830, Clinton

This house was built by James Lockett. After the Civil War, it was home to James H. Blount, a lawyer who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1872-1892.

Old Clinton Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Parrish-Billue House, 1810, Clinton

This home was built for one of Jones County’s earliest settlers, Captain John Parrish, who also served as an early county commissioner. During the the March to the Sea, the residence was briefly occupied by Union General Kirkpatrick as a temporary headquarters. The smaller structure attached to the right side of the house was built in 1821 and in 1830 served as the law office of Alfred Iverson, Sr., and Samuel Lowther. Iverson went on to serve in the Georgia legislature, the House of Representatives, and the United States Senate. His son, Alfred Iverson, Jr., served as a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army.

Old Clinton Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Barron-Blair House, 1820, Clinton

This magnificent house was completed circa 1820 and various histories suggest construction began as early as 1810. It features first- and second-floor colonnades not only on the front of the house but on the rear ell, as well.

It was built for an early Jones County commissioner, Captain John Mitchell, and expanded in the 1820s by attorney James Smith. Smith was a charter trustee of the Clinton Academy. Dr. Horatio Bowen, a prominent physician, planter, and one of the largest wine producers in the state, purchased the home in 1845. Judge Barron was a later owner.

Old Clinton Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Houser-King-Chapman House, 1903, Perry

This four-over-four house was built for Sam Houser. Later owners were the King sisters and, beginning in 1948, C. C. Chapman, who served for many years as the sheriff of Houston County.

Neidlinger-Monroe House, 1904, Effingham County

This farmhouse is located on a section of 1000 acres originally granted to Samuel Neidlinger, who built a hand-hewn log house on the property in 1788. Neidlinger was a settler of New Ebenezer but left that community after the Revolutionary War. Another house on the property, built by Samuel Neidlinger’s son, Emanuel, was burned by Union troops while Emanuel was away in service. The pioneer Neidlinger’s great-grandson, Lenorian, built the present house in 1904. Lenorian was a Georgia state senator in the early 20th century.

The house is a Georgian cottage, though locally, the style is known as the Salzburger Plan.