Inside The Abandoned House Of A Captain Plagued By Tragedy

Step into this charming red-brick Italian-style house, nestled behind sturdy iron gates. Its porch boasts intricate ironwork reminiscent of the elegant railings found on vintage steamships. The maritime vibes give a hint of the family’s story and the mysteries hidden within these walls. However, it’s a tale marked by sorrow and hardship. With the help of photographer Leland Kent from Abandoned Southeast, we’re granted a peek into the troubles and neglected beauty of this once-grand home. Join us as we venture inside to discover its secrets. Simply click or scroll to take the journey with us.

As you step into the abandoned home, your eyes are greeted by the rich, well-preserved dark wood adorning the walls, staircase, doorways, and floors. It exudes a sense of opulence and sophistication, accentuated by the grand neoclassical-style doorways and oversized furnishings. Nestled in Telfair County, Georgia, this house holds a historical connection to the nearby formidable Ocmulgee River, which once provided livelihoods for steamboat crews transporting valuable lumber between bustling urban centers.

Take a moment to admire the intricately carved newel post anchoring the staircase, a remarkable architectural detail that has weathered the years admirably, despite the scattered remnants of crumbling ceiling plaster strewn across the floor. Constructed between 1880 and 1885, this home was the creation of Captain John Loquier Day, a respected figure in the community who had risen from humble beginnings to attain wealth and prominence. Born on April 22, 1838, in New York City to immigrant parents from Bristol, UK, John’s story reflects the quintessential American dream.

In the hallway stands a magnificent, grand-scale wooden seat adorned with a massive mirror, its ends adorned with intricately carved monstrous figures reminiscent of the fearsome figureheads adorning the bows of mighty ships. These beastly figures likely symbolize the mythical sirens of seafaring lore.

Despite the encroachment of decay, the former splendor of the living room still shines through in the grandeur of its neoclassical-style oversized doorways and expansive arched windows. Dominating the space are two imposing wooden cabinets, now overshadowed by the fallen drapes and debris scattered across the wooden floor, a poignant reminder of this once vibrant household. John himself hailed from a large family of nine siblings, though the loss of two in infancy underscores the harsh realities of 19th-century life.

Now, shifting our focus to the other side of the room, take note of the impressive double doors, the intricately designed chairs, and the decorative fireplace surround. However, the ravages of neglect are evident, with chairs showing signs of wear and tear, furniture in disrepair, and debris littering the space from the walls and ceiling. John’s journey into adulthood began at the tender age of 15 when he joined his father in the workforce. Together, they tackled the intricacies of machinery repair for factories and mastered the art of crafting metal machine parts from patterns.

Moving to another room downstairs, the scene is one of disarray and decay. The left wall appears on the verge of collapse, with piles of broken plaster and wood strewn across the floor, and the ceiling coving precariously perched above a window. At 22, John achieved a milestone in his career by attaining the status of a journeyman, recognized for his exceptional craftsmanship which exempted him from military service. However, tragedy struck the family in 1854 with the untimely death of John’s mother from yellow fever at the age of 45.

Despite the simplicity of the plain white paint, the room’s symmetry is accentuated by the uniformity of the large doors and alcove shelving, all framed by meticulously carved casings. Yet, the fireplace presents a stark contrast, its surround collapsed inward, accompanied by a sagging floor and cracked walls, hinting at potential structural issues. The family’s fortunes appeared to improve when John’s father assumed the role of manager for a fleet of steamboats. However, tragedy loomed ominously on the horizon.

Continuing the timeless interior style, this room features a fireplace in much better condition. In 1858, during a steamboat journey from Augusta to Savannah, disaster struck when John’s father’s vessel caught fire on the Savannah River. The local newspaper, The Delaware Gazette, recounted the devastation, with 780 bales of cotton, 40 barrels of flour, and other cargo lost to the flames. As the crew leaped overboard to evade the inferno, John’s father, unable to swim, was among the approximately fifteen passengers who tragically perished.

This desolate space seems to be succumbing to the relentless forces of nature. A plant has found its way through a crack in the distant window, its tendrils weaving into the room. The ornate wooden furniture, adorned with carved mythical griffins, stands in stark contrast to the pervasive decay that permeates the space.

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In another angle of the room, you can see its connection to the hallway and an adjacent area. The chandelier hangs lopsided, missing one of its fittings, while large sections of the ceiling droop precariously. Amidst the family’s unfortunate streak of misfortune, there were moments of joy, such as John’s marriage to his beloved, Mary Strobar.

This quaint bathroom holds promise with its spaciousness and a large window offering a glimpse of a picturesque view, once enjoyed from a charming old roll-top bath. However, rust now mars the sides of the bath and sink, and the floor shows signs of neglect. In its prime, this house was a haven for John, Mary, and their four children, although the family endured the tragic loss of one child in infancy and another at the age of 17 after a prolonged illness.

The kitchen, with its dilapidated cupboards and ancient appliances, appears unfit for any serious culinary endeavors. Nature seems to be reclaiming this space too, with greenery pushing through shattered windows. Eager to progress in life, John made a career shift to follow in his father’s footsteps as a steamboat captain, seeking new horizons amidst life’s challenges.

As you gaze down from the top of the stairs, you can’t help but notice the flaking paint scattered across the wooden floor and the layer of dust clinging to the stair spindles. Over the next 12 years, Captain John navigated three steamboats along the winding paths of the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers, each vessel bearing the name of one of his beloved children, as revealed by Leland Kent.

The upstairs landing is bathed in sunlight streaming through the two expansive arched windows. Here, you can admire the exquisitely crafted spindles, a testament to Captain John’s skilled handiwork. However, tragedy struck the Day family once more in 1869, when John’s brother, Henry, fell fatally ill during a visit. Despite John’s efforts to reach him, Henry’s condition rapidly deteriorated, and he passed away four days later from suspected “brain fever.”

From this vantage point, you catch a glimpse of an upstairs bathroom and bedroom along the hallway. Take note of the sizable chandelier, now precariously hanging by a thread of wire, a potential hazard looming overhead. The tragedies extended beyond the walls of John’s home, with another family member meeting a grim fate on the relentless river. John’s brother, Thomas, met his end in a tragic accident, thrown from his steamboat and swallowed by the murky waters due to his inability to swim.

As you step into the bedroom, you’re met with a scene of desolation, with half of the ceiling crumbling away and a portion of the window missing. Yet, amidst the grime, the grand fireplace commands attention. Paint pots scattered on the floor hint at the possibility of a future renovation, though the home’s prolonged abandonment suggests otherwise. Despite his trials, Captain John remained a pillar of the local Methodist Church, dedicating his later years to charitable endeavors and generous contributions to the church, as noted in his obituary.

Similar to the neglected downstairs washroom, this bathroom holds the promise of beauty with a touch of care. The tall windows offer a picturesque backdrop for a relaxing bath, while a mirror resting against the tub and metal rails and hooks left on the walls hint at the room’s former functionality. Captain John passed away on March 9, 1906, at the age of 67, and rests in Laurel Grove Cemetery North in Savannah, alongside his loved ones.

Moving to an upstairs bedroom, the scene is one of disarray, with signs of dampness marring the ceiling and walls. Peculiar items, like a pair of shoes and a ‘beware of the dog’ sign, litter the floor. According to his obituary, Captain John was a member of the Freemasons, a secretive society that conducted Masonic funeral rites for him.

Additionally, Captain John belonged to another lesser-known esoteric society, the Oddfellows, characterized by its unique rituals and symbols. Amidst the clutter of the bedroom, a stack of old magazines offers a glimpse into the recent past, likely left behind by a former resident.

Surveying the house from the overgrown garden, one can appreciate its decorative overhanging eaves and tall arched windows, defining features of the majestic Italianate architectural style. In his obituary, Captain John is hailed as one of South Georgia’s most esteemed citizens, a testament to his achievements despite the tragedies that befell his family. Yet, there remains hope that this tale may culminate in a happy ending—here’s to the restoration and revival of Captain John’s cherished home, returning it to its former splendor.

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