Jennifer Shrader Staff writer
November 4, 2013
It’s the kind of place you could drive by 1,000 times a year and miss seeing every time.
Tucked in between the intersection of Davis and Upper Big Springs roads and a non-descript insurance company though, is one of the few houses left in Troup County built by Cullen Rodgers, a Greek Revival listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Facing down the long pecan tree-lined drive to look at the two-story house with Ionic columns, it looks like a house in a movie.
“It’s better than a movie because it’s real. You can hear sounds of life all around it but when you go down that driveway you are taken to the past,” said Daniel Brooks. Brooks is the former director of Arlington, a house museum in Birmingham, Ala., and a professor at Samford University. He recently brought more than 50 people to LaGrange on an “antiques and architecture” tour, studying Rogers’ architecture.
The tour was dampered, however, by the fact the Nutwood plantation and four other historic homes in Troup County are on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual “Places in Peril” list. One, in fact, already has been razed since the list was first compiled.
The other houses are the Flowers-Newsome House on Upper Big Springs Road, the Rosemont Plantation (The Bailey-Traylor-Parham House) at 185 Rosemont Road and the Boddie House on Greenville Road. The razed house was the Handley plantation.
“Apparently the Trust voted on the list while the Handley Plantation was still standing,” said Laura Jennings, tourism director for the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce.
Rodgers designed and built Nutwood, which is currently on the real estate market, the Boddie House and the Handley plantation, along with another Troup County house that was moved to Newnan.
Jennings said the tour group was in shock that the houses were in poor condition.
“Actually, they could not stop talking about their concern about our lack of interest in our heritage,” she said. “And to add insult to injury, we have several more antebellum homes that are on the market with no buyers in sight. They are the Culberson-Gamble House at 609 Country Club Road and the Arnold-Mattox House at 639 Country Club Road.”
Troup County Archives Director Kaye Minchew said the Boddie family is committed to caring for the Boddie house.
Brooks said his comments were not meant to be critical but to encourage Troup County not to lose any more of its historic homes.
“You have some real gems in houses and people,” he said. The historic homes his group visited had gracious and generous homeowners.
But to lose a historic house is to lose a gap in the crown, Brooks said.
“To have Nutwood on that list is so stressing,” he said. The house was initially mentioned in a book of historic homes called “White Columns in Georgia” that Brooks received as a gift in his youth.
“That book inspired my career with Southern history,” he said. To lose more Rodgers-designed homes would be to lose a chapter of Troup County’s history.
“These are the keystones to the town,” he said. “It tells citizens who they are and it’s what makes the town different from the next town and the next state.”