We’ve spent a fair amount of time in our travels gawking at houses along the way.
Big and small; old and new. Fabulously restored and completely ignored. City. Country. Everything in between. I’ve found that trying to identify the styles and types of houses we see is an interesting lens for understanding the historic, cultural, and economic context of the places we’re visiting.
I’m focusing on Georgia, somewhat arbitrarily, to share some of what we’ve seen with you. Georgia’s one of the states where we’ve spent time in both the eastern and western areas of the state (but that said, we didn’t come close to covering the whole state). We especially like to spend time in small towns and along rural roads, but we do spend a little time in bigger cities—in this case Atlanta. So in Georgia I have photos that represent a bit of a range.
Once I started getting curious about the houses we were seeing, I found an outstanding primer, A Field Guide to American Houses, to make house-gawking more road trip fun! (This link is to the just-updated edition; I bought the earlier version, used, for $1.50. The main difference seems to be the inclusion of designs of the last 30 years in the new version, such as ‘Millennium Mansions.’) Even if you just use it in a sort of CliffsNotes way, the book helps you visualize the historical precedents on which American house styles are based. So it’s a fantastic resource if you want to know the difference between Early Classical Revival, Greek Revival, and Neoclassical. Or just the difference between a gable and a hip.
So, here goes!
Houses on Georgia’s east coast
We spent a little time around Brunswick, Georgia, on the state’s short Atlantic coast. The town dates to 1738; by 1789 the city was one of the five original ports of entry for the American colonies. But late in the Civil War, as the Union Army approached, much of the city was abandoned and burned. Economic prosperity returned when a large lumber mill was constructed in the region. By the late 19th-century, despite yellow fever epidemics and occasional hurricanes, the port of Brunwick was thriving, shipping cotton, lumber, and seafood.
Houses of western Georgia
Columbus, Georgia, on the Chattahoochee River about 100 miles southwest of Atlanta, was founded in 1828; the river connected the region’s plantations with key cotton markets. In the 1850s, textile mills sprouted along the waterway, expanding the area’s agricultural base, and with the Civil war the town become a key industrial center for the Confederacy. After the war, factories were rebuilt, and prosperity quickly followed. Columbus has done a good job maintaining strong design guidelines to preserve the historic integrity of its houses.
All photos: © 2015 Sue Cummings and Bruce Howard. All rights reserved.