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Monday, February 15, 2016

Colonial Architecture in Georgia

by Denise Weimer
deniseweimerbooks.webs.com


As Georgia got a late start to the other colonies, it’s not surprising that few 1700s buildings dot our landscape today. Begun in 1732 by James Oglethorpe as a relocation destination for those in England’s debtors’ prisons and a refuge for persecuted Protestants, Georgia received its royal charter in 1752. Savannah and Augusta flourished as its earliest cities. 
Christian Camphor House
In towns, the first permanent dwellings reflected the colonists’ memories of home: side-gabled houses with a chimney at one end or New England saltbox style, with the side-gabled roof extending at a gentle pitch above an attached rear shed (example: Christian Camphor House, 1760-7, Savannah). In the country and on the ever-westering frontier, single pen log homes like the Big Holly Cabin in Clarkesville (see example), or double-pen with a connecting breezeway known as “dogtrot” style, became common. Frontiersmen constructed these most commonly of heart pine, but sometimes of poplar or cypress on the coast. Sometimes the logs were only hewn on one side and were pegged together if square-head nails proved unavailable. English settlers often used dovetail notching, while Cherokee cabins used saddle notching. Chinking consisted of dried mud, pebbles and horsehair.

Big Holly Cabin

Finer Georgia homes of the late 1700s represented several styles:
·         Georgian Colonial emphasized symmetry and box shape, often featuring five windows across the top with shutters and a paneled front door framed by simple columns, often flattened. A gambrel roof included front and rear porches. (Example: 1797 Ezekiel Harris House, Harrisburg; and 1771 stucco over brick “Olde Pink House” aka James Habersham Jr. House, Savannah.)

Olde Pink House
Ezekiel Harris House
·         Federal Colonial also featured a prominent square or rectangular shape with Palladian or Venetian windows and an interior, curved, iron-railed stair. (Example: 1790 Grey House built by Jacob Callaway near Washington.)

·        
Wild Heron Plantation
Plantation Plain homes were two rooms wide and one room deep, situated on a raised brick basement with a pitched shed roof over the front and sometimes rear porch. (Example: 1756 Wild Heron Plantation, outside Savannah.) Most Plantation Plain homes were constructed 1790-1850, with most examples remaining in Piedmont Georgia.
·         One unique style of Colonial architecture exists near Augusta, Georgia in 1791 Meadow Garden, home to George Walton, the Son of Liberty who at 26 became the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence. The militia colonel wounded in the Siege of Savannah retired to his two-and-a-half-story retreat on a brick basement in Sands Hill Cottage style similar to those in the Summerville area of Augusta. (See example.)


Meadow Garden


·        Another unique form of Colonial architecture stands as a solid reminder of the vanished Quaker settlement at Wrightsborough, the 1785 Old Rock House built by Thomas Ansley in Delaware Valley style. (See example.)

Looking for your own piece of Colonial Georgia? Buy the Georgia Trust endangered-listed 1798 Smith-Turner House for a mere $65,000 in Lexington, not far from this writer’s area. (See example.) But bring a little pocket change for this fixer-upper! 
Smith-Turner House - Buy Me!

8 comments:

  1. Denise, enjoyed your article. I like looking at the difference in the structures of homes in the 1700-1800's and today's homes.
    Blessings, Tina

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    1. Thanks, Tina, architecture has always been a big interest of mine! Since I decided to become a writer rather than a historic preservationist, I did as expected ... and wrote about a historic preservationist character in my new Restoration Trilogy (hee, hee).

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  2. Interesting. I love looking at homes of different architectural style. On a wintry day like today, I often wonder how people ever kept warm in some of the old houses.

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    1. Fireplaces, wool and bed warmers helped some but I bet their tolerance was a lot higher than ours. :)

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  3. I wish I could rescue that last historic home!!

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    1. I wish you could, too! It's stood empty for quite some time now.

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  4. It is exciting to read about this bit of GA history. Thanks Denise.

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  5. Excellent article! Reminds me of my architectue history courses at LSU! Thank you for reporting on this important and interesting topic.

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