Own a Piece of Georgia History

While Atlantans helplessly stand by and watch historic structures meet the wrecking ball, the small town of Washington in Wilkes County maintains much of the state’s architectural history.

Photo by: Austin Landers Located in Washington, Ga., this grand antebellum mansion began as a federal-style home in 1787 and by 1841 underwent a Greek revival-style makeover with the addition of the massive columns that surround the building.

In honor of Independence Day, we’d like to recognize the beauty and historic grandeur of Wilkes County, located about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta. Not only is it home to more historic structures per capita than any other place in Georgia, but it was also the first county formed under the Georgia Constitution of 1777. Three years later, the town of Washington was made the county seat and was the first city in the nation named after the father of our country, George Washington.

History buffs will find interest in the county and town’s many firsts. For example, the first cotton gin operated out of Wilkes County in 1793. The First United Methodist Church in Georgia was established in Washington-Wilkes in 1787. Georgia’s first free public library, the Mary Willis Library, opened in Washington in 1888 and still stands today. The library is located on East Liberty Street near many fine examples of prewar, antebellum, federal, Greek revival and Victorian homes. Every spring the town hosts a tour of homes, allowing visitors the opportunity to witness the opulence up close and personal.

Or, why not own one of the homes yourself? We found several listings ranging from $120,000 to $1.6 million, like the Campbell-Jordan House located at 212 East Liberty St. William Stith built the original cottage around 1787; in 1807 Duncan Campbell purchased the property and enlarged it. Today stands a grand antebellum with stately columns on all four sides. It has been painstakingly refurbished and cared for by owners Robert Griggs, an interior designer, and Robert Aiken, a landscape architect, both well known in Atlanta for the gentrification of Inman Park, Atlanta’s first planned suburb.

The home has five bedrooms, three and one half baths, heart of pine floors, nine working fireplaces, exquisite millwork, a formal dining room, several sitting parlors, a library and a unique kitchen located in the basement with a keeping room and fireplace. It also has the original carriage house and a four-car garage. Many of the items in the home are for purchase or may be negotiated with an accepted offer, according to the listing agent.

As the historic town of Madison is located nearby, we recommend making a day of it and taking in some of Georgia’s most beautiful and interesting architecture – while you still can.

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