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

Rosenwald School, 1927, Ailey

This Rosenwald School was built to accommodate three teachers at a cost of $3650. The effort to bring the facility to Ailey was largely the work of Shelton Mincey (1865-1930), a community leader who served as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1912 and 1920. Since its restoration, the school has served as a community center for Ailey.

McCaw-Massee House, 1901, Macon

This Beaux-Arts landmark [also known as the Crisco House] was designed by Macon architect Alexander Blair III for Wallace Eugene McCaw, Sr., president of the Macon Manufacturing Company, an oil and soap concern. During his time at Macon Manufacturing Company, Mr. McCaw invented a hydrogenated vegetable-based shortening which he marketed locally as Plantene. The formula was purchased by Procter and Gamble in 1910 and the product name was changed to Crisco. Mr. McCaw sold the house at this time and went on to a career as a vice-president at Procter and Gamble in Cincinnati. He died in 1933 while boating near his summer home at Diamond Point, New York, on Lake George, An autopsy determined that he had a heart attack and fell into the water.

The buyer of the house was W. Jordan Massee, a larger-than-life Macon character known as Big Jordan. Massee was a good friend of playwright Tennessee Williams and Big Daddy in the play was purportedly based on Massee. When Massee sold the house it was divided into apartments. After many years of decline, it was purchased and restored in 2013.

Macon Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Little Richard House, 1920s, Macon

This hip-roof shotgun house in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood was once home to Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman), the “Architect of Rock n’ Roll”. It is typical of the domestic architecture found in working class African-American neighborhoods in Macon in the early 20th century. The house originally stood several blocks away but was moved to this location to save it from an expansion project on Interstate 75. It is much nicer looking today than it was in Little Richard’s time in Macon; he noted he grew up in a “rundown house on a dirt street”. It is a museum today, known officially as The Little Richard House Resource Center.

Major Edward White House, Circa 1806, Milledgeville

This house is believed to be the oldest in Milledgeville. It was built circa 1806 for Major Edward White (1758-9 January 1812), a Massachusetts native who served as Adjutant to the Marquis de Lafayette during the Yorktown campaign. Major White’s wife, Mildred Scott Stubbs (28 September 1775-23 July 1825), was the niece of General John Scott, who built the state capitol in the newly established seat of state government. Upon the death of Major White, his son, Dr. Benjamin Aspinwall White (2 January 1793-11 April 1866), inherited the home. Dr. White served as mayor of Milledgeville in 1840 and Surgeon General of the Georgia State Troops during the Civil War. He was also a founding member of the board of the Georgia Lunatic Asylum.

The house was originally located on West Greene Street and was moved in the late 19th century to its present location. It maintains much of its historic integrity.

Milledgeville Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Blount-Parks-Mara-Williams House, 1818, Milledgeville

This landmark example of the Milledgeville Federal Style was completed circa 1818 and has been moved four times throughout its history. It originally stood at the northeast corner of Clarke and Greene Streets, was then moved to the northwest corner, then turned to face Greene Street again in 1901. In 1991, it was moved to its present location facing South Clarke Street.

Milledgeville Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Tompkins-Long House, 1873, St. Marys

This landmark is presently being restored. It is sometimes identified as the Davis-Tompkins-Long House.

St. Marys Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Restoration of the Kinlaw Rosenwald School, Camden County

Marshall Glover

While photographing in Camden County with Cynthia Jennings yesterday, I met Mr. Marshall Glover. Mr. Glover is leading the work of restoring the historic Kinlaw Rosenwald School, which was built in 1921. The formal education of African-American children in Kinlaw began in a one-room schoolhouse built on the site in 1896.

The African-American community of Kinlaw was very progressive and embraced better education for its children. Upon learning of the existence of the Rosenwald grants from Matilda Harris, Camden County’s supervisor of black schools, the people of Kinlaw began exploring the possibility of replacing their schoolhouse with a better facility. They raised $909 and with matching contributions and grants began construction on this structure in 1920, with the first classes beginning in 1921. The school offered instruction for children from first to seventh grade and was one of three Rosenwald facilities in the county. Kinlaw is the only one that survives today.

Mr. Glover told me that his father and grandfather both attended the school and that he was glad to be doing the restoration as a way of honoring them. He noted that he has been working for over a year and spent much of that time caulking the tongue-and-groove paneling. He pointed out that the excellent material and construction of the school has been evident during the restoration, with much of the work being cosmetic. He stated that there were some parts of the floor that were compromised due to leaks in the old roof, but they are getting to that work now. With a team of volunteers, he has done an excellent job.

Please consider a contribution to continue this important work. Secure donations can be made here.

C. R. West House, Circa 1850, Stewart County

Mac Moye notes that this wonderfully maintained Greek Revival farmhouse was built by his great-great-great uncle, C. R. West. He also mentioned that the late George Salter Lee, a one-time mayor of Omaha, Georgia, did a wonderful drawing of the house for the Bedingfield Inn Cookbook.

Oak Grove Cemetery, 1838, Brunswick

Oak Grove Chapel, or Wake House. Oak Grove Cemetery Society President Robert M. Gindhart III writes: For the record, recent research has revealed the true story of Oak Grove Chapel which was completed in April 1902 by the Ladies Oak Grove Cemetery Society. The chapel [originally thought built in the 1880s] was built in one year with donations of materials, cash, and labor.  The chapel had a 1902 value of $400. Three purposes for the chapel were to provide a place: for funerals in the cemetery; to hold Oak Grove Cemetery Society meetings and to store their garden tools.  That Society was founded on March 2,1901 and is not to be confused with today’s Oak Grove Cemetery Society founded on March 18, 2014.  In fact, when today’s Society chose the name, we knew nothing of the earlier group founded 113 years earlier.  Their work is today our work.  The ladies found Oak Grove in exactly the same condition as did today’s Society. 
The chapel was restored in 2017.

Oak Grove was established by the city of Brunswick in 1838 as its first public cemetery and was originally designed to encompass ten acres. I received a nice message from Oak Grove Cemetery Society President Robert M. Gindhart III and he updated some of the history of the site: The cemetery was finally reduced to the size we see today in 1901 to make way for the new Brunswick and Birmingham Railroad roadbed. This greatly altered the western boundary of Oak Grove, moving the fence 50 feet eastward. Fifty graves were exhumed and most of those were brought within the new cemetery boundary. Were all exhumed? Recently, OGCS, using Ground Penetrating Radar, identified hundreds of unknown graves.  We have added those to our electronic map found at: www.oakgrovetour.com identified by beginning with letter U and a blue dot.

Oak Grove contains a nice variety of Victorian funerary monuments and is one of Brunswick’s most fascinating public spaces. It shouldn’t be overlooked.

The memorials that follow were randomly selected and appear in no particular order

Eula L. Brown Dunwoody [1862-1890].
Nightingale Family Plot
Frances Nicolau Nightingale [1871-1948]. Founded in 1920, with Maya Stevens Bamford, Miss Nightingale’s School for Girls (Nightingale-Bramford School) in Manhattan. Graduates include Millicent Fenwick and Gloria Vanderbilt.
James D. Kenny [1828-1885]. Irish-born sailor.
Cornelia M. W. Boone [1847-1876]. Yellow fever victim.
Captain Douglas G. RIsley [1838-1882]. Captain Risley served the Union in the Civil War and founded the first public school for African-Americans in Brunswick in 1870.
Major Urbanus Dart, Sr. [1800-1883]. Upon his death in 1883, Major Dart was the oldest known citizen of Brunswick. He was associated with the first railroad chartered in Georgia and served in the state legislature.
William Harvey Anderson, Sr. [1837-1896] & Alethia I. Williams Anderson [1839-1904]. William Anderson, Sr., was a prominent contractor and builder in Brunswick and was responsible for the construction of Brunswick’s City Hall.
Anderson Mausoleum (Detail)
Anderson Mausoleum (Detail)
Anderson Mausoleum (Detail)
Hirsch & May Mausolea. Benjamin Moses Hirsch [1840-1927]. Bertha Elizabeth Hirshfield Hirsch [1842-1912]. Julius May [1863-1915]. Emma M. Hirsch May [1870-1946]. The Hirsch & May families were prominent Jewish merchants in Brunswick.
Samuel Bruce Moore [1835-1857].
Joseph Florence Lasserre [1844-1919] & Family. This monument was likely erected upon the death of Lasserre’s daughter, Ida, who died in 1898. Lasserre was a native of France and served as Captain in Harris’s Independent Co. Brunswick Riflemen, 26th Infantry Regiment of Georgia.
Satilla G. Brown [1857-1901]
Sir Rosendo Torras [1851-1929]. Rosendo Torras was a native of Spain who was knighted by King Gustaf of Sweden for service to the crown. He came to Brunswick in the 1890s as captain of a sailing ship. His son, Fernando J. Torras, was an engineer and the builder and namesake of the causeway to St. Simons Island.
Unidentified Brick Crypt
William Williams [1800-1885]. Demis Broad Williams [1814-1877].
O’Connor Family Plot
William Walter Watkins [1841-1885].
James Alexander Clubb, Jr. [1827-1889]. Clubb was the lighthouse keeper on Little Cumberland Island and was the pilot of the slave ship The Wanderer.
Townsend Plot Starburst Finial
Annie Louise Blain [1884-1891].
Annie Elizabeth Scranton Blain [1845-1880].

Oak Grove is open from dawn until dusk. Parking is free, on the street beside the cemetery.

National Register of Historic Places