More road trip fun: Houses of Georgia

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

House styles of Savannah

Adam style house in Savannah, with side-gabled roof, typical 5-ranked windows and elaborate door surround with cornice. (Style popular from 1780-1820.)



House styles of Georgia, Plum Orchard Cumberland Is GA

This two-room house ruin with a hipped roof is on the grounds of Plum Orchard plantation, Cumberland Is. (Probably built early 20th century.)

House styles of Georgia

Plum Orchard, one of five ‘cottages’ Lucy Carnegie built for her children on Cumberland Is., the family’s winter home. Designed in Early Classical Revival style with ‘High Style elaborations’ by architecture firm Peabody and Stearns. (Built in 1898.)

Shotgun houses of Atlanta

Shotgun houses, a row of narrow, gable-front one room wide houses, commonly built in expanding Southern neighborhoods from about 1880-1930. Part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s boyhood home Atlanta GA

Martin Luther King Jr.’s boyhood home in Atlanta, a modest Victorian with hipped roof, cross gables, and a shed roof porch. (Built in 1895.)

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.

House styles of Brunswick Georgia

A Second Empire Victorian style house in Brunswick, with a forward-facing wing to create an asymmetrical plan. (Style commonly built 1855-1885.)

House styles of Brunswick Georgia

Gable-front-and-wing National Folk house with Victorian detailing and  a shed roof porch, in Brunswick. (Commonly built in the late 19th-early 20th century.)

House styles of Brunswick Georgia

A symmetrical Folk Victorian style house in Brunswick, with Queen Anne spindlework in porch and gable detailing. (Style common 1870-1910.)

Moss Cottage, built on Jekyll Is. when it was the exclusive enclave of the very wealthy, and once owned by George Macy. In the Shingle Victorian style with a gambrel roof and asymmetrical gables, it's faced with Cypress shingles. (Built in 1896.)

Moss Cottage, once owned by George Macy, was built on Jekyll Is. when it was the exclusive enclave of the very wealthy. In the Shingle Victorian style with a gambrel roof and asymmetrical gables and entry, it’s faced with Cypress shingles. (Built in 1896.)











Houses of western Georgia

House styles of Atlanta Georgia

Antebellum plantation house near Atlanta. Early Classical Revival style, with front gable and full height porch. (Plantation built between 1783 and 1875.)


Jimmy Carter's boyhood home in Plains Georgia

Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home in Plains, a square massed plan family house with pyramidal roof, shed dormer, and side gabled wing. (Built early 20th century.)

House styles of Atlanta Georgia

Greek Revival house in Atlanta, with entry porch less than full height and hipped pyramidal roof. (Style often built between 1825-1860.)










House styles of Georgia

Post-railroad expansion National Folk style house ruin in Omaha, with gable-front-and-wing plan and a shed roof porch. (Probably late 19th century.)





























House styles of Georgia

Manufactured home in Preston. These factory-built homes started becoming popular in the 1950s, but became larger, and less mobile, in the 1960s and 70s.








House styles of Georgia

A Folk style more typical of the pre-railroad era, this side-gabled, hall-and-parlor plan house ruin, expanded by a front porch and a rearward extension, is in Preston. (May have been built late 19th-early 20th century.)












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.

House styles of Columbus Georgia

A one-story Folk Victorian house with a pyramidal roof in Columbus. (Style commonly built from 1870-1910.)











House styles of Columbus Georgia

A modest Queen Anne Victorian in Columbus, but with some atypical design features such as a pyramidal roof and no front gable. (Style common between 1880-1910.)















House styles of Columbus Georgia

In Columbus, a Neoclectic house, which is considered to be a minor style that gained favor in the late 1960s and 70s. Typically, it has a pedimented portico grafted onto a one-story rambling Ranch style house.

House styles of Columbus Georgia

A Queen Anne Victorian house in Columbus, with a hipped roof and lower cross gables, porch spindlework, and a second story porch over the entry. (This roof pitch is typical of early 20th century.)




















All photos: © 2015 Sue Cummings and Bruce Howard. All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “More road trip fun: Houses of Georgia

  1. Loved this post and passed it on to Mike the AIA hubby. Did you happen to visit Cumberland Island? There was a wonderful story about one of the granddaughters trying to save the older building on the island despite park service folks wanting to tear them all down. (Also they have wild horses there 😉

    • Hi Gretchen – we did visit Cumberland Is, off the coast of Georgia. It’s fantastic! Have you been there? We did see a lot of the wild horses, and armadillos. I loved the marine forest; it’s really different, lush with palms. The fight over tearing down houses was kind of interesting. The NPS maintains a couple of the old carnegie mansions I think, and a few houses for park staff (since you can only get there by boat – no cars). There are still some houses that are privately owned. But some houses I believe the park service was tearing down as the owners died and their property reverted to the park (the owners all had the right to live there in their lifetimes). So ultimately, except a couple of historically significant buildings like the mansions the island will revert to wild seashore. Going there to see it was really cool – a ranger spent the better part of a day taking us all over the island!

  2. Very interesting. The Folk style house almost looked livable.
    A lot of good pictures, research and history went into this post. Well done!

    • Thanks Cindy! Looking at neighborhoods and houses is always fun in a new town, giving a feel for the character of a place. Speaking of houses, any nibbles on yours yet? We’ll be so sad to lose you as a neighbor!

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