Newnan-Coweta Historic Society

Tour of historic homes, gardens Saturday

by W. Winston Skinner

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Submitted Photo

The Reese Home

This coming Saturday, area residents will have the opportunity to step back in time as they explore homes and gardens from the 1860s.

The Newnan-Coweta Historical Society will be holding its Tour of Historic Homes and Gardens from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Three historic properties will be on tour – the Reese home, now the residence of Steve and Kim Wright at 85 Greenville St.; the Bailey home, owned by Thomas Lee, on Poplar Road; and Magnolia Plantation, owned by Morris Steward and George Johnson, on Bill Hart Road.

A variety of tickets options are available. General tickets, which include visiting all three homes and gardens and an 1860-era lunch at Something Special from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., will be $30 each.

There also is a family ticket that is for the Bailey home only. That ticket costs $20 and admits an entire household. There will be interactive activities for children and adults there.

A goal of this year's tour is for it to be "very family oriented, very family focused – for families to be able to come," said NCHS member Jan Bowyer.

People can also purchase a walk-up ticket to see an individual home on Saturday for $5.

Tickets may be purchased in advance from the Male Academy Museum, the Coweta County Visitors Center, the Coweta County Extension Office, Let Them Eat Toffee and Andy’s Nursery.

Parking for the Reese home will be at the Coweta County Justice Center.

Parking is not available at the Bailey and Magnolia Plantation sites. All vehicles will be parked at Poplar Road Elementary School, 2925 Poplar Rd., Sharpsburg. "We're shuttling people to those two properties," Bowyer said.

People with limited mobility should go to Poplar Road Elementary and obtain a parking pass.

Each site will capture a little something different about the 1860s. At the Reese home, there will be a focus on medicinal herbs used in the 1860s.

The Reese home was built in the 1850s. Dr. J. T. Reese was a druggist, who also invested in a bank and a textile mill. The first telephone in Newnan connected his home with his drugstore downtown.

Bonnie Umberger, who is a nurse, will be enacting the role of Fannie Beers, who was a nurse in hospitals in Newnan during the Civil War. Other activities at the Greenville Street site will include spinning, quilting and tatting.

Carol Healy will be in costume to explain mourning customs of the 1860s as well as textiles and fashion in Civil War days.

The Bailey home is typical of the homes built by early settlers and was constructed in the early 1830s. Henry J. Bailey moved to Coweta County in 1835 and married Rebecca J. Atkinson two years later. He bought the house and began to farm the plantation.

The two sons and four daughters of the Baileys grew up at the rural home.

Toward the end of the war, the Bailey home served as an informal hospital where Confederate soldiers returning home were nursed, fed and given the opportunity to bathe outside by the smokehouse.

The family lived in the house for 140 years. The house was moved a short distance – in 1995 – to its present site.

The Bailey home will represent "the Southern farm plantation," Bowyer said. "Located on that property will be a petting zoo, a blacksmith, basketry, candlemaking , soapmaking" and storytelling.

Also at the Bailey house, there will be a small outbuilding and an herb garden. There will be toys like those from the 1860s and hands-on crafts.

Local 4-Hers will man the petting zoo.

At Magnolia Plantation, there will be a boxwood garden, a cutting garden and a parterre garden. The property features an extensive collection of azaleas, grasses, hollies, hosta, roses and hydrangeas.

There also are other plants, vines and perennials.

Plein air artists will be painting in the open air at Magnolia, and there will be dulcimer performers in the gardens. A male quartet will present music of Stephen Foster.

An exhibit on caring for chickens will be a project for local 4-H members.

The federal style home was previously as the MacFarland Plantation, the Render House and the Render-Wilcox House. The Magnolias was built between 1829-1833 by Dr. John MacFarland, a physician who was originally from Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Legend has it that Dr. MacFarland was educated in Vienna and spent some time as a doctor in the West Indies, before getting a 2,000-acre land grant in Troup County.

The Magnolias Plantation was designed by MacFarland and Georgia architect/builder Collin Rodgers. The house resembles many of the small villas designed by the great Italian architect Andrea Palladio in the seventeenth century.

Most furniture, paintings and statuary predate the 1830s.The home was moved to its current location in 1997.

In addition to the historical society members and the 4-H club members, local Master Gardeners will be taking part in next Saturday's events.



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