Women Saved Homes of LaGrange, Ga.

An hour southwest of Atlanta is a tiny town with a large number of historic homes, spared the flames of the Northern Aggression thanks to the ladies.

LaGrange, Ga., Historic Fixer: Columns

Photo by: Dawn Douglas A classic example of Greek Revival architecture, President Rutherford B. Hayes and Jefferson Davis were rumored guests in this area of LaGrange.

LaGrange, Ga., is a small historic town located about an hour southwest of Atlanta. The city was incorporated in 1828 and was originally named for the French country estate of the Marquis de Lafayette. It is home to some of the nation’s finest examples of antebellum and Greek Revival architecture as many homes were spared destruction during the American Civil War — thanks to a group of women. 

Toward the end of the war, LaGrange was defended by a female militia known as the Nancy Harts, named after a Georgian famous for her myriad solo efforts to eradicate British sympathizers from her colony during the Revolutionary War. (Hart County and Lake Hartwell are named in her honor.) 

“Early in America’s Civil War the women realized all the able-bodied men are off fighting the war,” said Kay Minchew, director of the Legacy Museum in LaGrange. “So they decide that they need to protect their home front and they organized a militia and named themselves the Nancy Harts.”

When confronted with the Northern Aggression, the all-female militia negotiated terms with Col. Oscar LaGrange. Though the railroad and other structures were blazed, soldiers spared the opulent homes. The Nancy Harts never fired a shot and were so grateful that they did what any group of grateful Southern women would: They made dinner for the enemy. 

The tradition of fine architecture continued when Hal Hentz and Neel Reid were commissioned to design the Hills & Dales Estate, a 13,000-square-foot mansion set on 35 rolling acres. It is open to the public and hosts many classes and lectures year-round. 

The Cast of Jayne Mansfield's Car

Photo by: Van Redin The entire cast of Billy Bob Thornton's Jayne Mansfield's Car poses outside the historic LaGrange, Ga., home of Col. Reid Wallis, where the majority of the film was shot. 

The city is not without its famous residents either. Former White House Correspondent Tom Jarriel of ABC News is a native, as was New Jersey State Senator Wynona Lipman, the first African-American woman to be elected to the Senate. Two former residents, Hammett L. Bowen, Jr. and James M. Sprayberry, were the recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroic actions in the Vietnam War.

Hollywood is also taking notice of the quaint little town. Billy Bob Thornton used a home in LaGrange for principal photography for Jayne Mansfield’s Car. And scenes from Lawless, starring Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce and Shia LaBeouf, were also filmed in the area. 

Which brings us to a listing we stumbled across while researching all things LaGrange. It is a grand antebellum believed to be constructed around 1840, making it a Nancy Harts rescue. It was originally located in downtown LaGrange near the historic square but was moved about two miles away to “the country.” Described as a fixer-upper, the historic home has five large bedrooms and three baths, five fireplaces, fluted Doric columns and a cantilevered balcony. Priced just under $500K, the 3,800-square-foot home is a great find for those looking for a project. By the photos, most of the work appears to be cosmetic, but don’t hold us to that. It could be haunted

It is listed with Nicole Smith and Dawn Douglas of ReMax Georgia


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