Tag Archives: National Historic Landmarks

Johnston-Felton-Hay House, 1855, Macon

Designed by the architectural firm of T. Thomas & Son for Macon entrepreneur William Butler Johnston, this 18,000-square-foot Italian Renaissance Revival mansion was built between 1855-59 by James B. Ayres.

Johnston was involved in every aspect of the construction of his home. Initially, it was to be of wooden construction, but Johnson opted for masonry and brick instead.

“Ruth”, a marble sculpture commissioned in Rome and shipped to Macon, by the expatriate Neoclassical sculptor Randolph Rogers. She has her own room in the house.

The Johnstons were active art collectors and acquired important pieces during their Grand Tour of Europe. The house was well-suited for the display of their impressive collection.

At a time when most of the finest homes in the South were of Greek Revival design, the Johnston House was a standout.

Macon’s grandest residential landmark, it’s also considered one of the finest houses in Georgia, known as the “Palace of the South” upon construction.

It was the most modern house in mid-19th-century Macon.

It featured hot and cold running water, gas lighting, central heat, an in-house kitchen and other innovations far ahead of their time.

The Johnston’s daughter Mary Ellen married William H. Felton (later a judge) in 1888 and they soon moved into the house.

After the deaths of the Feltons, Parks Lee Hay bought the house in 1926.

When Mrs. Hay died in 1962, her heirs established the P. L. Hay Foundation and operated it as a private museum.

The Hay House was transferred to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation in 1977.

It is operated today as a house museum and event venue.

A tour of the home also includes a glimpse into the living quarters, which are only slightly less formal.

The Georgia Trust has spent decades researching the history and architecture of the house. I’m grateful to Mark McDonald and Ennis Willlis for unfettered access with my camera. All of the staff were very accommodating during my visit.

Note: This post replaces an earlier version, originally published in 2017.

National Historic Landmark

Baldwin-Neely House, 1887, Savannah

This Richardsonian Romanesque landmark near Forsyth Park was designed for George Johnson Baldwin by architect William Gibbons Preston, who was also responsible for the Savannah Volunteer Guards Armory, the old DeSoto Hotel and the Cotton Exchange, among others. Baldwin’s wife Lucy made the home a center of society in late Victorian Savannah.

Alvin Neely

Recently, my friend John Brown and I had a delightful visit with longtime owner, Alvin Neely. Alvin grew up in Waynesboro, in one of the town’s best-known homes, and his family has a long and prosperous history in Burke and Jefferson counties.

Alvin has continued the tradition of being an elegant host and visiting with him is like a glimpse into another era. He was a good friend of Jim Williams, the main character in John Berendt’s head-turning bestseller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and shared some wonderful anecdotes about those days.

He graciously invited me to photograph throughout the home and I’m grateful to be able to share a few images.

Alvin has carefully decorated the house with antiques that reflect the spirit of the architectural style and the era with which it is associated.

As a result, it is a comfortable and welcoming space.

Over the years, the home has regularly played host to Alvin’s large circle of friends.

Marble sculpture
Stairway landing
Decorative relief

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

Moses Chapel AME Church, 1877, Rutledge

I’m not sure when Moses Chapel was established but like most African-American churches in Reconstruction-era Georgia the congregation likely counted many recently emancipated slaves among its members. The church, built in 1877, is a real treasure of the vernacular Gothic style common in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is the most notable landmark of the historic African-American neighborhood known as Pea Ridge.

Rutledge Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Dr. Willie Hill House, 1903, Washington

East Robert Toombs Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Price Street Victorian Rowhouses, 1892, Savannah

These Queen Anne rowhouses have recently been restored.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

Second Empire House, 1873, Savannah

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark


Club House Annex, 1901, Jekyll Island

Growth of the Jekyll Island Club around the turn of the century necessitated the need for more space. Charles Alling Gifford designed these condominiums to meet that need.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

Chicota Cottage Swimming Pool & Ruins, Jekyll Island

Along with one of the Corinthian lions that once guarded the property, these ruins and the abandoned swimming pool are all that remain of Edwin Gould’s beloved Chicota College.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

Servants Housing, 1890, Jekyll Island

Now used as offices of the Jekyll Island Authority, these two structures provided housing for servants of the wealthy families who vacationed here during the Club Era.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

Baker-Crane Carriage House, 1886, Jekyll Island

One of the few remaining structures of the Jekyll Island Club which hasn’t been restored, the carriage house used by the Baker and Crane families appears to have at least been stabilized. The upper floor was used to house the carriage drivers and handlers and the lower flower was for storage of carriages and stabling of horses. It was also occasionally used as a social hall for staff of these families.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark