Monday, December 16, 2013

Americus, Americus

Americus is about 10 miles from Andersonville, the closest thing to a city in just about all directions. It's actually a pretty place that's an architectural gold mine. I finally took the plunge the other day to go to Americus to get a haircut and while there did a little driving around to soak up the atmosphere. (Why take the plunge to get a haircut? I can't say how many times I've gone to a salon, spoken what to me is plain English about what I wanted done, and walked out with something entirely different. Different and wrong. I'd pretty much given up but caught a glimpse of the mop in a mirror and knew I had to act.)

The big hotel in Americus is a Best Western of vintage lineage, built in 1892. While not on the National Register, it is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


It takes up nearly a city block and to my untrained eye has a mishmash of styles (called eclectic by finer minds than mine), but somehow they all seem to fit.

The staff must be used to gawkers because when I asked if I could wander around to take pictures they didn't bat an eye.

The woodwork is beautiful. The posts have delicate carving that you just don't see anymore.
 

 More carving on these posts.

 A part of the frieze on the outside of the building.

But the Windsor is just the start of the wonderful period architecture of Americus. Here's a Carnegie Library from 1908, now a catering company and available to rent for events.

A funeral home. I love eyebrow windows. They're the ones set into the roof on either side of the tower.
 
A classic, so pretty. If there's one must-have in my perfect house, it's a screened porch. Can you imagine sipping mint juleps there? Or just swilling down Margaritas? Yeah, me too. Frozen, with salt, please. This house was built in 1906.

A story-book doll house, built in 1890. The lattice work on the porch is the icing on the cake. It's on the historic homes driving tour, but I couldn't find details on any of the houses online.

The Lee Council House is next, and is available to rent. This is a description from the Americus Times-Recorder, 2007:

Mr. and Mrs. Lee George Council built this large Italianate mansion in 1902, two years after their marriage. The exterior features superb terracotta work, restored balustrade porch, beautiful stained glass window transoms throughout, and inlaid floors. The house is furnished with period antiques. An extraordinary architectural interior feature is the double staircase dominated by a panel of three stained glass panels on the stair landing that overlooks the grand hall.
Mr. and Mrs. Lee George Council of Americus built this large Italianate mansion in 1902, two years after their marriage. The exterior features superb terracotta work, restored balustrade porch, beautiful stained glass window transoms throughout and inlaid floors. The house is furnished with period antiques, and one of a kind items, along with Council family furnishings, memorabilia and a library that includes books by noted Sumter County authors such as President Jimmy Carter and Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity International. An extraordinary architectural interior feature is the double staircase dominated by a panel of three stained glass panels on the stair landing that overlooks the grand hall. - See more at: http://www.americustimesrecorder.com/local/x489049444/Christmas-tour-of-historic-homes#sthash.vmx4nSv0.dpuf

Mr. and Mrs. Lee George Council of Americus built this large Italianate mansion in 1902, two years after their marriage. The exterior features superb terracotta work, restored balustrade porch, beautiful stained glass window transoms throughout and inlaid floors. The house is furnished with period antiques, and one of a kind items, along with Council family furnishings, memorabilia and a library that includes books by noted Sumter County authors such as President Jimmy Carter and Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity International. An extraordinary architectural interior feature is the double staircase dominated by a panel of three stained glass panels on the stair landing that overlooks the grand hall.
- See more at: http://www.americustimesrecorder.com/local/x489049444/Christmas-tour-of-historic-homes#sthash.vmx4nSv0.dpuf

Back toward downtown and near the Carnegie Library is Americus Presbyterian Church, built in 1884. It was locked so I couldn't go in, but I hope to get in this week. Isn't it lovely?


The Thornton Wheatley Building. This description is also from the Americus Times Recorder, 2009:
Israel Thornton Wheatley, a Pennsylvania transplant who moved to Americus in the early 1850s and fought with the "Sumter Light Guards" throughout the Civil War, was a clothier by trade until his retirement in 1905. In November 1892, he completed on the southwest corner of Forsyth and Windsor what is also known as the Pythian Castle because the third floor was utilized by the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization. He had constructed the building adjoining on the west (now Forsyth Bar & Grill) in 1889.

This window is on the second floor of the Thornton Wheatley Building.



I've always admired the optimism of builders/owners who literally cast their names in stone on their buildings. The Byne Block, 1887, beautifully preserved.


This facade is so simple but so appealing. Note the turquoise just peeking out from the white triangles over the windows.

Contrast the above with this dramatic presentation. Very nice.

Here are two final details. Look Better Feel Better is on a defunct barber shop, abandoned with chairs, capes, and tools still in place. 

The filigree circle is not fronting a blue background, as I first thought. The blue is open air behind it.














There's a lot more to discover in Americus. According to Wikipedia, the city center was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 as the Americus Historic District. The district boundaries were extended in 1979.

And I got a decent - no, good - haircut for $14. I'm not kidding.

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Thought of the day:

A real building is one on which the eye can light and stay lit. (Ezra Pound)

4 comments:

  1. I'm with you - no sipping. Let the swilling begin!

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    1. One thing I have to hand to the ex-husband is the man knew how to make a margarita. You know it's a good one when your nose goes numb.

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  2. I just found your blog and have spent several hours reading. Then I found you were in my hometown. If you get back to South Georgia before I retire, you are welcome to park in my yard for free, as I now live about 35 miles from Americus. I really enjoyed seeing the comments on Andersonville, Americus and the Carters. My dad and his brothers went to school with the Carters and were neighbors throughout the years. You are right about how they are part of the community and don't make a big deal of their presence at events. The funeral home you pictured is owned by family friends and is decorated in period style inside. It was a private home and then apartments prior to WWII, and then sometime later became the funeral home.

    I have enjoyed reading your blog, as although my divorce has been much longer ago, I have had the same thoughts and understand the journey. I am looking forward to moving into the fulltime lifestyle and volunteering to make it affordable in a few years.

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    1. Thank you for reading and for writing. I always joke that I have somewhere between three and four readers, so I'm happy to add you as another.

      I will be back at Andersonville for another two months next spring. I don't have the time nailed down yet but expect it to be April-May, somewhere in there. I hope we can meet when I get back. In the meantime, my email address is stocker.kathleen [at] gmail [dot] com. I'd love to hear from you again.

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