The Historical Rockwell House Renovated And Opened To Public

The Samuel Rockwell House, located in Milledgeville, Georgia, is a historic residence with a notable history. Constructed in 1838, this building served as the summer house for Georgia Governor Herschel Vespasian Johnson at a certain period. Unfortunately, in 1969, the house suffered damage due to a fire. Despite this setback, the Samuel Rockwell House was recognized for its historical significance and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The listing on the National Register acknowledges its architectural and historical importance within the community and beyond.

The Samuel Rockwell House, situated in the then capital city of Georgia, Milledgeville, was constructed in 1838 for Colonel Samuel Rockwell of the Georgia Militia. Rockwell, a slaveholder, originally from Maine, had relocated to Georgia in 1834. Before settling in Milledgeville to practice law, he had served as an attorney in Savannah. The architect responsible for the building’s design was Joseph Lane, who had traveled from Maine with Rockwell for this purpose. Rockwell, later involved in the construction of Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, and Lane, known for designing buildings on the Oglethorpe University campus, collaborated on this project. The construction cost was around $2,500, while the cast iron fence surrounding the property reportedly cost about $2,600. An urban legend suggests that Rockwell suffered a heart attack upon learning the expense of the fence.

Colonel Rockwell passed away at the property in 1841. Subsequently, the house changed hands multiple times and served as the summer residence for Herschel Vespasian Johnson, who later became the Governor of Georgia. After Johnson’s death in 1880, the house had several owners. In 1967, the building was sold to an owner who initiated renovation efforts. Unfortunately, a fire caused by a blowtorch used in the renovation process damaged the house in 1969, resulting in the removal of many original features. Since 1971, ongoing renovation work has aimed to restore the historic property. The Samuel Rockwell House was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 19, 1978.

In 2019, the house was sold to three investors, including an Atlanta-based realtor specializing in historic preservation. Subsequent renovations have made the house open to the public, available for events, and for renting rooms for nightly stays.

The Samuel Rockwell House is an exemplary specimen of Federal architecture, featuring elements of Greek Revival architecture in its columns and pediment. This historic building comprises eight rooms distributed across two floors, each floor equipped with two foyers connected by a spiral staircase. Noteworthy is the construction method employed, known as the “notch and peg” technique, with nails used solely in the external weatherboarding. Originally, the exterior was painted a light yellow hue, complemented by Charleston green shutters.

Additionally, the property encompasses a carriage house and slave quarters situated at the rear, reflecting the historical context of the period in which it was built. This comprehensive architectural ensemble provides insight into the design and lifestyle of the time, contributing to its recognition and listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

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