Local Columbus Historic Districts:
Dinglewood Historic District
Columbus Historic District
High Uptown Historic District
Liberty Heritage Historic District
Peacock Woods/Dimon Circle Historic District
Waverly Terrace Historic District
Weracoba/ St. Elmo Historic District
Wildwood Circle Historic District
Wynns Hill/Overlook Historic District
Wynnton Village Historic District
Dinglewood Historic District
Completed in 1858, Dinglewood is one of Columbus’ outstanding homes. Long described as built like an Italian villa, the house has been referred to as an example of Victorian jig-saw ornament on and Italianate house by Frederick Nichols. Joel Hurt built Dinglewood for his wife Frances Flournoy Hurt and a proper setting for his daughter Julia, one of the great beauties of that time. Mr. Hurt acquired the property (originally about 20 acres) in 1857 from John Woolfolk for $5,500.00. The architects were Barringer and Morton of Columbus. Joel Early Hurt spared no expense when building his home, rejecting the first set of plans after the lumber had been hauled and the building begun, as not grand enough for his wife. New plans were made and featured a water-works system and private gas works, both expensive and rare. Mr. Hurt brought slave labor from his Alabama plantation to work under expert direction in building the house. They also laid a pebbled walk similar to those in Italy and of real beauty, hammering the stones into a concrete bed, laying a pattern of palm leaves with the owners’ initials in the center.
At the front of Dinglewood, a classical revival entrance with Corinthian columns in antis is used in the favorite Piedmont arrangement with simpler Doric entablature on the facade of a house in the Italian villa style. High, French windows with arched frames and shutters open onto the veranda. A number of low windows and a cupola provided ventilation. The wide mahogany stairs in the entrance hall circle up to the second floor. Molded plaster cornices near the ceiling and carved archways, as well as beautiful frescoes, were supervised by a Mr. Fuber, who lived on the place in order to oversee the work. Italian workmen did most of the finish work. Two houses built for the workmen to live in are still located on the property.
On the left side of the house are a spacious parlour, music room and dining room which open into each other, and a small office for the master of the house. On the right side is an informal sitting room and two large bedrooms. The kitchen is in the rear. Upstairs there were originally six bedrooms. The cupola was also used as a sewing room for the seamstress because it provided better light. Each room has a marble mantel. Those mantels downstairs are more elaborate than the ones in the bedrooms. Over the parlour mantels hang magnificent, heavy, gilt mirrors brought over from Europe and are original to the house. All of these rooms were furnished with rosewood and English mahogany also from Europe. The house was truly magnificent for its day.
Dinglewood was the scene of the marriage of Julia and Captain Peyton Colquitt, of a famous Georgia family, during the time of the Civil War. Julia donned her riding habit as her going-away costume, and rode to Virginia with her husband. Having attained the rank of Colonel, Colquitt was fatally wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga, leaving beautiful Julia a young widow with no children. It is reported that Julia and her mother lived in Paris during the remaining was years, as did other men of distinction, such as Gen. Robert Toombs and Gen. Beauregard.
Julia’s beauty attracted the attention of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, great-nephew of the Emperor, who had been a classmate of Peyton Colquitt’s at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. However, she spurned him in marriage, remembering the fate of Elizabeth Patterson of Baltimore, who had married the Emperor’s brother, Jerome. (Miss Patterson’s marriage to Jerome was never recognized by the Emperor, although U.S. Law and Pope Pius did. Jerome had to do as his brother bid, leaving “Betsy” and his young son, and marrying Princess Catherine of Wurttemberg, for the sake of the State. Their son, Charles Paul, was recognized as the Emperor’s heir.)Julia received many mementos of this courtship, but refused his hand in marriage and returned to Dinglewood. She later became the wife of Lee Jordan of Macon, who was said to be the wealthiest gentleman in Georgia at the time.
Miss Frances Adams, whose mother was also a Flournoy, inherited the Dinglewood from her first cousin, Julia, and Miss Adams left it to Annie Hind, her friend. The house was purchased by Lloyd G. Bowers, III in 1950, and is still owned by the Bowers family today. The house is not open to the public.
Columbus Historic District
Perhaps one of the most photographed houses in the Original City Historic District is “The Folly”. It is a one-story double-octagonal house with gothic detailing and is the most unusual house in The District. The house, located at 527 First Avenue, in addition to being listed on the National Register, has been designated by the Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark. This house constructed during the War Between the States follows the pattern and philosophy of Orson Squire Fowler, whose 1854 publication, A House for All, swept the country and created a clamorous demand, for Fowler was seeking both the maximum amount of usable space for a dwelling, plus several stoutly-held opinions regarding health and ventilation.
Originally known as May’s Folly, after its builder, cabinet-maker Leander May, the house is presently known simply as The Folly and was featured in Clay Lancaster’s Architectural Follies in America. A dwelling has existed at 527 First Avenue since 1831, when Julia Forsyth, the daughter of Georgia Governor John Forsyth, married a Columbus attorney, Alfred Iverson, who later became a U.S. Congressman and senator. The young couple came to live in the modest white house which occupied lot 124.
Alfred Iverson became one of Georgia’s most distinguished citizens. He was a member of the Georgia Legislature for seven years and judge of the Superior Court for the Columbus circuit. In 1846 he was elected to Congress and in 1855 to the Unites State Senate. He was the first Southerner in the Senate to threaten secession. In January 1861, Iverson withdrew from the Senate, when Georgia passed the ordinance of secession. He returned home to help assist in procuring labor and supplies for the Confederate effort. His son, Alfred Iverson, Jr., became a Brigadier-General in the Confederate Army, as well as son John, became a colonel in the CSA.
Mr. Iverson sold the house on First Avenue in 1857 to Mrs. Savanna G. Faber when he moved to Washington, D.C. Then on September 25, 1862, the house was sold to Mr. Leander May, trustee for Hannah P. May, by Mrs. Faber for a price of $400. Mr. May was a cabinet maker and added the octagonal, four room addition in front of the original cottage. This “remodeling” converted the original cottage into the present flamboyant neo-gothic double-octagonal.
The Folly was sold on May 11, 1865, to Mrs. Catherine Flynn for the sum of fifteen thousand dollars in Confederate treasury notes and the further price of $500 in gold. The year 1863 is the one most often cited as the year May made his eccentric addition. Just after the Civil War, the house was sold by Mrs. Flynn to Michael Barschall. Fannie Barschall cut her name on a window pane in the dining room with a diamond ring.
In 1875 the house was sold to Captain Thomas Jefferson Bates and in 1911 to George L. Sheram. The Historic Columbus Foundation, Inc., purchased the house from Freer Sheram King, granddaughter of George L. Sheram, on June 5, 1967. This was the first acquisition of the Historic Columbus Foundation. The house is currently owned by Mr. F. Clason Kyle, HCF Board of Directors Member Emeritus and noted Columbus historian. Dr. William J. Murtagh, keeper of the National Register, United States Department of the Interior, was the speaker when The Folly was dedicated on November 8, 1974, as a National Historic Landmark, the city’s first. The Folly is believed to be the only double-octagon house in the United States.
From Etta Worsley’s Columbus on the Chattahoochee (1951): “The home of the late Mr. and Mrs. I. Joseph, at 828 Broadway, is one of the oldest in the neighborhood, being a hundred years old and still in the same family. With its ample veranda, it spreads across a lawn one hundred feet wide, shaded with ancient cabbage palm and tropical fern vines brought up the river from Apalachicola by the “Fannie Fearn” or one of the other steamboats of the line of which Mr. Joseph was president. It has a long ell in the back for the old-fashioned kitchen and dining-room, now enclosed in glass, and the delightful antique furnishings of the house are made more beautiful by the touch of the artistic hands of the Joseph sisters.
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph were one of the first couples to be married in the old Episcopal Church on First Avenue after its completion, and went to live with the Nathaniel Waldrons, parents of Mrs. Joseph, who owned several of the original lots on First Avenue. The rambling ten-room home on Broad Street (Broadway), with its bachelor house for the Joseph boys and rose gardens in the rear, was purchased by them soon after The Civil War. It has been the hospitable home of the Josephs for eighty years. First owned by the McGoughs, it was later the home of H.H. Epping, some years before the war, and here “Miss Leo” Epping was born and took her first baby step. Many years later, she became the bride of the second George Parker Swift, and lived in the well-remembered big brick house on the corner of Twelfth Street and Second Avenue with its wrought iron fence, which is now the site of the handsome Federal Building and Post Office.”
From Images by Clason Kyle: “Little Fannie Joseph” was surely one of a privileged few in Columbus seen being strolled around town in a carriage of such ornate wicker splendor. A nice decorative and customizing touch was the letter “J”, which is in plain view just above the left rear wheel. Fannie’s father, Issac Joseph, was president of a successful line of steamboats which traveled the waters of the Chattahoochee-Apalachicola-Flint river system and owner of the 1840 Joseph House at 828 Broadway. This house was inhabited by Joseph family members for over one hundred years and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. (Photograph courtesy of the Columbus College Archives.)”
High Uptown Historic District
Statement of Significance from National Register Application 1975
” Located in what was then the most prestigious Columbus section, the outstanding Second Empire style Bullard-Hart House was begun in 1887 and completed in 1890 by Dr. William Lewis Bullard. Dr. Bullard built the house for his wife, the former Mary Blackmar and their three daughters, Elmira, Louise, and Dana.
Dr. Bullard was born in Tenniville, Georgia, on February 29, 1852, the son of Elmira and Lewis Bullard. He attended Emory University and afterwards studied medicine at Johns Hopkins. He later pursued his medical studies in London and Vienna. Dr. Bullard was a prominent eye, ears, nose, and throat specialist at a time when medical specialization was rare. Many of his patients came great distances to be treated by him. A number of the operations he performed in Columbus were considered notable. His large practice attested to the high esteem in which he was held.
The family of Dr. Bullard’s wife, the Blackmars, played an important role in the early days of Columbus. Descendants of the family have lived in Columbus since 1835 when the city was only seven years old. The family contributed greatly to the cultural and economic growth of the city.
The Bullards raised three daughters in the house, two of whom were married there. One of the daughters, Elmira (Mrs. William Thomas Hart) married and lived in this house until recently. While Mrs. Hart lived in the house people always found a hospitable welcome. One of their more frequent visitors was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who gave a radio talk announcing his decision to run for Governor of New York from the parlor of this house. The announcement was broadcast nationwide. Not only was Mr. Roosevelt a frequent visitor, but other prominent guests were General George C. Marshall, General George Patton, and Supreme Court Justice Thomas Murphy.
Architecturally, the Bullard-Hart House is a seemingly endless array of textures and details amassed in a late 19th century house. The art nouveau tile work, the carved and paneled woodwork, the intricacies of parquetry, stained glass, embossed paper, tin, and leather work, mantels embellished with carved relief and over-mirrors, numerous arches and composite columns present a tour de force of Victorian details. The Bullard-Hart House is in desperate need of the protection afforded by the National Register. Encroaching commercial developments pose a serious threat to the house.”
Description of the Bullard-Hart-Sampson House from the National Register Application 1975
“The Bullard-Hart House, 1890, is a frame two and one-half story Second Empire style house designed for Dr. William Lewis Bullard by L.E. Thornton and Company of New York, constructed by builders Jackson and Tinley who went bankrupt, and decorated by LeRolle Co. of New York. The house was ultimately completed by the architect. Thornton and Co. were also known for designing the Flagler Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. Located in what was considered one of the choicest residential areas of Columbus, it was one of Columbus’ most extravagant residences.
The exterior of the Bullard-Hart House is a symmetrical three bays of massing of an arched porticoed, one story entrance between a two-story bay on each side. Continuing this three bay emphasis on the upper one-half floor is the mansard roof with a curved pedimented dormers on either side of a central mansard roof “cupola” that rises above the roof line. Petal shaped slate tiles cover the roof. The front portico is supported by pairs of composite columns and gives access to a recessed arched doorway.
In plan the house is generally a four room central hall plan with rear ell addition of dining room and kitchen. The main portion of the house has parlors, with front facade bay windows, on either side of a hallway behind which is a wider central hall off of which is a bedroom and music room; the exterior side walls of both of these rooms are bowed.
The front doors are beveled and acid-etched glass depicting the initials of the owner. The doorway is heightened by a fan shaped transom of leaded stained glass. Passing through these doors one enters the front hall. The walls are covered in a fabric of embossed silver, copper and gold known as “Lincrustia Walton.” A Greek frieze extends above the Lincrustia to join the ceiling of pressed leather. Both the outer and inner halls incorporate a lincrustia design employing embossed paper, pressed leather, pressed tin and wood reliefs. The wainscoting of the inner hall is entirely of pressed leather. The floor is oak and pecan parquetry, which was laid by a master parqueteer from Massachusetts.
From one point in the hall a viewer can count eleven arches, one of which separates the front or outer hall from the rear or inner hall. In this (the rear hall) a spectacular unsupported staircase rises three floors and is constructed of turned wooden posts, arches, and a carved balustrade. A brass chandelier is suspended thirty feet to illuminate the three floors. The design on the chandelier is a facsimile of the escutcheon on the front door. Both halls incorporate a lincrustia design employing embossed paper, pressed leather, pressed tin and wood reliefs.
Throughout the house there are features and innovations which were incorporated into the house through the insistence of Mrs. Bullard and the ingenuity of the architect. The transoms over the bedroom doors, the unsupported three story staircase, the transport vent in the kitchen were all innovations peculiar to this house. The wooden mantelpieces hang on hooks so they can be easily removed in the event of fires. The Franklin stove in the rear hall was connected to water pipes which ran between the floors to distribute heat throughout the house. The Bullard-Hart House was the first residence in the city to have electricity. Mrs. Bullard not having a great deal of confidence in electricity had gas chandeliers wired so that both could be used concurrently.
The house has been altered very little in the course of time. It was built with a ballroom upstairs, which has since been converted into bedrooms. The rear upstairs porch was enclosed with oak wainscotting and stained glass to include a billiards room. The pressed tin wainscotting and frieze in the dining room has been painted a dark brown where it was once beautifully hand-painted a myriad of colors. The frescoes in the parlor and music room have been painted over. Other than these minor changes, the house stands much as it was when it was completed in 1890.”
Liberty Heritage Historic District
Entered as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, March 26, 2003
The Peacock Woods – Dimon Circle Historic District is located east of downtown Columbus, the county seat of Muscogee County, and is roughly bounded by 17th Street on the north, Cherokee Avenue on the west, 13th Street on the south, and Forest Avenue on the east. The district is located in a much larger area of early to mid-20th century suburban development.
Summary Description from National Register Nomination 2003
” The Peacock Woods – Dimon Circle Historic District is an early-to mid-20th century residential neighborhood in Columbus, Muscogee County. The district is composed primarily of four subdivisions that were platted from 1922 to 1928. The district contains an excellent collection of early- to mid-20th century house types and styles built from 1922 to 1954, with a majority of the houses constructed before 1939. Common house types in the district include English cottage, English house, Georgian house, Georgian cottage, bungalow, and ranch. Many of the houses in the district were designed by well-known architects and represent popular styles of the period in Georgia. Architectural styles represented in the district include Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Tudor Revival, and Spanish Colonial Revival. A few historic apartment buildings are located in the southwest corner of the district.
The district also includes a unique example of a 1954 California ranch house designed by Finch, Barnes, and Paschal (later FABRAP) with landscaping designed by landscape architect Thomas D. Church of San Francisco. The neighborhood was never a streetcar suburb of Columbus but built for automobiles as reflected in its remaining historic garages, back alleyways, and original driveways consisting of two narrow, paved strips. As a planned, early 20th-century residential neighborhood, the district’s character-defining features include curvilinear streets, informal landscaping, and uniform setbacks in a park-like setting.”
The following description was prepared by Tracy Dean and John Lupold of the Department of History, Columbus State University and edited with additional information by Gretchen Brock, National Register Coordinator, Historic Preservation Division. “Peacock Woods-Dimon Circle Historic District”, draft National Register of Historic Places Form, August 2000. On file at the Historic Preservation Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Atlanta, Georgia.
” Within the Peacock Woods – Dimon Circle Historic District, tree-shaded streets curve over and around rolling hills on which are nestled middle- and upper-class residences dating primarily from the 1920s and 1930s. The terrain is dominated by hills that rise on the eastern side of Weracoba Creek (outside of the district.) The landscape is dominated by towering hardwoods and pines, some of which pre-date the trees planted almost 80 years ago by developers and the original homeowners.
In terms of its context as a neighborhood in the Wynnton section of Columbus, this district is unique because it does not contain an antebellum house. Except for the small strip of property on the east side of Forest Avenue, the land within the district was part of the original property purchased by John Banks in 1836. It functioned as a large back yard for The Cedars, Banks’ antebellum house (not in the district, listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 23, 1971, and located adjacent to the Peacock Woods-Dimon Circle Historic District at 2037 13th Street). Banks’ descendants, the Peacock family, sold three large unoccupied, wooded tracts of this land in 1876, 1880, and 1887 to Charles W. Munro and John F. Flournoy (of the Muscogee Real Estate Company.)
The Peacock Woods – Dimon Circle neighborhood was never a streetcar suburb; its residents drove their automobiles to town. Most of the houses being built after 1925, when the Columbus city limits was expanded to include the Wynnton area, meant that the residents could use the new concrete viaduct over the railroad yard into downtown Columbus. The surviving historic driveways and garages represent the automobile-oriented nature of the subdivisions. Approximately 1/4 of the houses in the district have original driveways consisting of two narrow strips of pavement with grass in the center. Houses in Wynnton Heights subdivision along Cherokee Avenue and Dimon Street are served by a gravel back-alley and do not have driveway access on the front of their lots. Several of the homes in the district have maintained their original garages. Some of the houses in the Peacock Woods subdivision (along Summit, Brookside, and Flournoy drives and Forest Avenue) retain their two-story garages executed in the style of the house with an apartment on the upper story.
Houses throughout the district represent popular architectural styles in Georgia during the early to mid-20th century in Georgia. Almost half of the houses in the district were built in the Tudor Revival style with the remaining houses built in the Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Spanish Colonial Revival, and French Vernacular Revival styles. In terms of its architecture, this district has more high-style houses than the surrounding early 20th century subdivisions. The scale of its houses and the degree of ornamentation are more similar to the nearby Wynn’s Hill-Overlook Historic District (pending in 2002) and Dinglewood (listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 21, 2001) than they are to other Wynnton area suburbs. While documentation for specific architects only exists for 37 houses, at least another dozen houses in Peacock Woods were probably designed by a professional architect. Probably 45 to 50 percent of the houses in the district had plans drawn by an architectural firm.
The typical house in the district is brick, Tudor Revival in style, and built in the 1930s. There are also wood-sided and stucco houses. Stone is also a predominant material in the district because of the popularity of the Tudor Revival style and the stone houses in the Rock Park subdivision. Most homes in the district are either one- or one-and-a-half stories, the exceptions being a few two-story houses in the southern portion of the district and almost all the buildings in the Peacock Woods subdivision which are large, two-story houses.”
Waverly Terrace Historic District
“The year 1906 saw the opening of Columbus’ first planned subdivision. On December 1, 1983, that subdivision became Columbus’ second historic district. At the turn of the century, the approximately twenty-five acres that became Waverly Terrace lay on the northern outskirts of what was then Columbus. The Jordan Company, headed by G. Gunby Jordan, began surveying the land in 1905. By 1929, most of the homes there had been completed and many of them survive in good condition to this day. The architectural styles in Waverly Terrace are varied, including crafts-bungalow, Spanish mission, late Victorian, neoclassical and Georgian Revival, and utilizing materials of wood, stucco, and brick. One of the chief architects working in the area, according to W. Presley Tutherow who served as the sparkplug for the National Register recognition, was Thomas W. Smith. Tutherow and his family live in the home that Smith built at 2850 Hamilton Road, as seen in the top photo and showing the Confederate cannon that originally adorned the area. The Jordan Company printed an elaborate fifty-four page brochure entitled, “The Home Book”, touting the attractiveness of living in Waverly Terrace, coupled with the advantages of living in Columbus.
The interior of the residence of Mr. Henry Spraing, pictured here, is a splendid document for decorators or historians interested in mid-twenties furnishings and their arrangement.
Weracoba / St. Elmo Historic District
St. Elmo, a literary paper by Mrs. Edward Lummus, 1965
” One of the most exquisite examples of classic houses of America. A bona fide Greek temple for a home,” was said of St. Elmo by Mr. Howard Major of New York, a well know architect. The marker placed by the Georgia Historical Commission on the grounds of the home state that it was built on the Stage Coach Road by Colonel Seaborn Jones for his wife Mrs. Howard Jones who was the daughter of Major John Howard, a Revolutionary soldier of Milledgeville.
Seaborn Jones first visit to Columbus was when as Major Jones he was a member of Gov. Troup’s staff and came over from Milledgeville in 1825 with General Lafayette. Colonel Jones was a famed entertainer and once had the honor of serving as toastmaster at a banquet given by the elite of Columbus for Lafayette. Later he was sent on a commission to investigate Indian affairs. As lawyer and planter from Richmond County he was well established and prominent in Georgia when he chose Columbus for a home. He had already been Solicitor General of the Ocmulgee Circuit in 1817-1818. He was a member of Congress in 1835 – ’45 – ’47. Several sections of land were purchased by Colonel Jones adjacent to the Stage Coach Road. All of what we know as the St. Elmo section was included in the purchase. The land extended to Wildwood on the East and to the Shepherd land on the South.
Wildwood was built in 1831 for Mrs. Jane Vivien Howard, widow of John Howard of Milledgeville who died April 13, 1822. Mrs. Howard came to Columbus with a large family of grown sons and daughters and a considerable fortune. She came to be near her daughter and son-in-law, Seaborn Jones. Colonel Jones drew all the plans for his home and called it El Dorado, land of beauty. And a place of beauty it was. No expense was spared to make it the most elegant and luxurious in the vicinity. The house was begun in 1828 and completed in 1833.
In Medora Field Perkerson’s book, “White Columns of Georgia” in the chapter on “Ante Bellum Beauties” she gives the perfect description of the exterior of the house: “Of Greek Revival architecture, this beautiful old house is distinctly individual. Delicately elaborate details build up a superb unity of effect, enhanced by the fine architectural balance of a massive facade of twelve Doric columns forty feet high and which extend across the front and around two sides. These columns are crowned by a balustrade similar to the one that links them together at the floor level on the wide portico. A hanging iron balcony in medallion design highlights the entrance with its identical first and second floor doors, which have graceful fan and side lights. The house is built of handmade brick smoothed over with plaster and painted white stucco shaded by trees planted when pioneer predecessors occupied the place.”
The massive white columns – three feet thick and two stories high – and the 18″ thick walls of the house were built with great pieces of brick dug from a strata found right on the place. Slaves dug the clay, molded the brick and left it to harden under the southern sun. (A small lake now fills the place where this clay was removed.) There are three stories; the first, opening on the ground level, the second beginning about head height and the third atop it in regular fashion. There are four rooms on the second and third floors. On each floor the two front floors were 20×20 feet and the back rooms 20×16 feet. These rooms were separated by a 12 foot hall the length of the house. The ceilings on the main floor are 14 feet high. The top floor is approached by a beautiful winding stair to the 12 foot high ceiling rooms. The shuttered windows are large, the numbers of panes in each varying in the front and on the sides.
There are many interesting notes on the use of the ground floor. Other than serving as storerooms and a wine cellar there were rooms for the slaves. Also part of it was used as the kitchen and dining room. In one of these first floor rooms there is a fire place and over which is a replica of the one in Shakespeare’s home in Stratford on Avon. Hot embers are put in the oven to heat it, and then raked out and the food placed inside for baking. All the interior woodwork – except the doors and stairways which are of mahogany – is of heavy oak and cedar, felled on the place. The floors are of pine, wide boards still preserved in their natural color.
Just at the back door of the house there stands the old smoke house – its many small holes to let the smoke out gives it the appearance of a fortress. Also is the renovated original spring house where butter and milk and melons were kept cool in the summer. The grounds of the estate were beautiful, too. In front there was an old boxwood garden and on either side were formal gardens in which priceless statuary gleamed in the Georgia sunshine. There was a conservatory in the yard 50 x 25 feet in which rare and tropical plants were grown to perfection – lemon, orange, and banana trees. Fountains played and the artificial heats made this one of the most perfect and complete conservatories in the country. The lake on the side of the house was covered in water lilies and wisteria vines climbed the oaks and cedars. A scuppernong arbor 300′ long led from the house to the lake.
To this Eldorado, Colonel Seaborn Jones brought his wife and children, a daughter and a son, in 1833. A winding sandy road over which carriages and horses driven by Negro coachmen led through rose gardens to the house, where many historic personages were entertained. Among them were President Millard Fillmore, President James K. Polk, Henry Clay and General Winfield Scott, William Thackeray and Edwin Booth. Here Mrs. Jones’ niece, Augusta Jane Evans ( Wilson), finished her celebrated novel, “St. Elmo.”
It was here that Mary Howard Jones at the age of three had been flower girl. The only daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Jones she grew up and married a young lawyer, Henry Lewis Benning, who became famous of the Confederate General “Old Rock”. ( Fort Benning is named for General Benning.) The Bennings and their children, five daughters and one son, lived at her father’s home. Here, too, was born Anna Vivian Jones shortly after her father was killed in the battle of Gettysburg. He was Colonel John Jones, only brother of Mrs. Benning. He was married to Mary Leonard of Wildwood and they lived on an estate called Bonnie Doon, given him by his father, west of Eldorado.
After the war, General Benning felt it was dangerous for his family to remain at Eldorado and moved them all to town to the Benning home on upper Broad Street. Little Anna and her mother accompanied them. (As you know little Anna grew up and married Norman Pease.) For ten years, the mansion remained unoccupied. Then in 1878 it was purchased by Captain and Mrs. James J. Slade who changed its name to St. Elmo in honor of the novel which it had inspired.
Records do not tell us how long Capt. Slade used St. Elmo as a girls’ school, but he lived there until his death in 1917. It was then inherited by their youngest daughter Florence. She greatly treasured the mansion and the many Augusta Evans’ relics she had collected. In 1933 she opened it to the public and many were the tourists from many states – most of them coming to visit their families at Fort Benning.
In 1946 St. Elmo was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Mobley who made extensive repairs and changes for the comforts of modern living, but carefully preserving the classic lines of the house. They were gracious hosts, always delighted to welcome friends and interested parties. St. Elmo was open on the State Garden Tour in 1954. St. Anne’s guild of Trinity Episcopal Church had a tea – Betty is a member of that guild. Mrs. Mobley, formerly Betty Pou, has a great appreciation and attachment for ante bellum homes, having been reared in the beautiful old Fontaine mansion on Front Street (now demolished.) She furnished St. Elmo with handsome heirlooms of the Fontaines and Pous and the Peabodys of the Mobley family. It was their home for eighteen years. After Mr. Mobley’s death, Mrs. Mobley built a beautiful brick smaller home across the street from St. Elmo.
Once again this classic and historic mansion will be a home for a young family. Dr. Philip Schley has recently purchased it and making needed repairs. He plans to bring his wife and children home this coming summer.
May these legendary halls echo with voices and laughter of a happy family and, perhaps, the great who visit as guests will be from the profession of Medical Science!” (end of 1965 paper)
(Note: Dr. Philip Schley continues to call St. Elmo his home for him and his family. The home is not open to public tours. There is a historic marker in front of the house on 18th Avenue which includes details of the house and of Augusta Jane Evans.)
Wynns Hill / Overlook Historic District
“Constructed during the late 1830’s, the Wynn House features the Greek Revival type architecture so popular in the ante-bellum South. The large white house has tall Doric columns on three sides, a widow’s walk over the front door, and a cupola. The side porches or “piazzas” are flat-roofed, and are located on either side of a “pedimented portico.” At the time the estate was sold by its original owner, Col. William L. Wynn, it covered over 100 acres. The house was located at some distance from Wynnton Road, with servant’s quarters in the rear.
Henry Hurt, the house’s second owner, added the marble mantels. When the house passed from the hands of its third owner, Hines Holt, to Tom Cooper (1906) it was moved some 300 feet to its present site at the front of the lot overlooking Wynn’s Hill. The Wynn House was later bought by Mr. and Mrs. S.C. Butler, who completely restored the house. The Christian Fellowship Association, now headquartered in the historic house, has recently restored the downstairs front rooms which were almost completely destroyed by fire in 1968. Master craftsmen were employed to restore to their original beauty the fine wide plank floors, lovely woodwork of the window casings, plaster moldings including ceiling medallions and door casing capitals. The pair of crystal and bronze chandeliers, each measuring 42 inches in diameter, was made in Vienna for the C.F.A. The gilded Victorian over-mantel mirror in the music room was the gift of the late Mrs. S.C. Butler. Furnishings are of Victorian, Empire, and traditional 18th century periods.
There are beveled and leaded glass transoms over the main entrance: doors that are 10′ 1/4″ in height and 7′ 2 and 1/4″ in width. The side lights are of the same glass, and are 8 inches wide.”
Statement of Significance from National Register Application 1971
” The Wynn House was built by Colonel William E. Wynn, one of Columbus’ earliest and most prominent residents. Located in the Wynnton section (named for Colonel Wynn), the large estate was situated east of the original city. Colonel Wynn was active in government, educational, social and religious affairs in Columbus. He served as a representative to the State Legislature in 1832, was a co-founder of the Wynnton Academies, and was a Methodist minister. His home was often the scene of large social gatherings.
The second owner of the estate, Henry Hurt, was a bachelor who never lived there. Tradition has it that he was engaged to be married, but that the marriage never took place. In 1855, the house and grounds were sold to Colonel Hines Holt for $14,000. Colonel Holt was a distinguished attorney and statesman. He served as City Attorney in 1843, and as a delegate to the Milledgeville Convention in 1861, where the decision to secede from the Union was made (Colonel Hines Holt voted against secession.) He also served as a representative to the Confederate Congress. After the War-Between-the-States, he was elected as a delegate from Columbus to serve Georgia during the Reconstruction Period.
Colonel Holt was well remembered by Columbus citizens for his rousing oratory on the occasion of Henry Clay’s visit to Columbus during his presidential campaign. Holt delivered the welcoming address, “a long speech, to which he (Mr. Clay) eloquently replied.” The Holt family retained the home until Tom Cooper bought it early in the 20th century. During the time Mr. Cooper owned the house, it was moved 300 feet by mule-power. Mr. and Mrs. S.C. Butler bought it in the late 1920s, and lived there until the late 1950s when the Christian Fellowship Association purchased it for their headquarters following a short period of ownership by James Waldo Woodruff, Jr.
As the Christian Fellowship Association, it serves the community as a non-profit institution offering educational and recreational facilities for all ages.”
Wynnton Village Historic District
Statement of Significance from National Register Application 1971
Colonel John Banks, the original owner of “The Cedars”, was an extremely prominent lawyer in Georgia in the early days of Columbus. A former Indian fighter, he visited the area in 1825 when he was ordered by Governor Troup to accompany General LaFayette on his trip from Milledgeville, the first capital of the State, to Alabama. Col. Banks moved to Columbus from Elberton, Georgia, in 1836.
Col. Banks was one of the founders of the Planters and Mechanics Bank of Columbus and owner, with John E. Dawson, of the Howard Cotton Mill. Col. Banks and his wife Sara had a large family, and to accommodate them in comfort, he built a spacious and impressive house from the little village of “Wynnton”. A long drive led from the old main road that ran through Wynnton Village to Macon, Georgia. The drive was lined with cedars, behind which was a planting of large oaks. On the west, as one faced the house, was a charming guest house which stood just inside the white picket fence surrounding the main house. Col. Banks also had large holdings in Alabama and had five known working plantations there.
An extremely generous man, he gave large amounts to charity. It is said that during his lifetime he gave away not less than $50,000 for charitable purposes. He was also a leading figure in the founding of Wynnton Academy. (Founded in 1843, it is generally considered to be the oldest such building in continuous use as a school facility in the State of Georgia. It is now the library of Wynnton Elementary School.)Pictured is the cedar drive to the main house c.1890
Col. Banks provided the land (along with James M. Chambers, Van Leonard, A.H. Flewellen and Col. Wm. L. Wynn) for the school to be built upon. The group acquired four acres for the girls’ school and six acres for the boys’ school. Col. Banks is generally considered to be the primary proponent of education in the embryo town of Columbus. The Wynnton area was annexed to the City in 1925 and Wynnton Academy became a part of the public school system. Columbus’ Cedar Avenue was formerly the drive to this “Great House”, which is one of the earliest and most important in the section of Columbus known as “Wynnton.”
The Cedars is extremely important to the community, and its style is unique in Columbus. This house has been in the Banks’ family since 1837 and is presently owned and lived in by a direct descendant of John Banks. This house is not open to the public.
Description of the House from the National Register Application 1971
In 1837 the floor plan consisted of eight large rooms with a hall running the length of the house. The conveniences, such as the kitchen, were located in outbuildings at the rear of the house. A dirt floored basement, entered from the outside, was used for slave quarters and stores.
The main house was built of handmade deep rose colored bricks covered with stucco. This was marked off in large rectangles to resemble blocks of stone. Four Ionic columns of stucco brick support the front portico. The roofline was changed in 1885 from a much flatter roof to the present one, which gives a greater feeling of height. As one enters through the large double-front doors, one comes into a hall 9′ wide and 40′ long. Here an artist spent several months painting the walls to resemble pinkish Italian marble. To this day, this remains in excellent condition (and are maintained by present owners). To the right (east) of the hall is a parlor with black imported marble mantel and the original flowered carpeting. Behind this room is the dining room with a white Italian marble mantel. Across the hall (west) the bedrooms were located, all with handmade pine mantels and all opening into one another. The rooms have fine recessed windows, many with the original blown-glass lights. The floors are heart-of-pine, 5 1/2 inches wide. Original imported English brass locks and hardware grace the doors. All the ceilings are 13′.
Throughout the house, the doorways are beautifully carved, and this carving is even carried out onto the exterior doorways in the rear of the house which open onto a veranda. Wings on wither side of the house extend beyond the main body of the house, thus forming a courtyard in the rear.