Thursday, January 7, 2010


Originally uploaded by Decrepit Telephone

I was shocked today when I was going through my archives and found that I hadn't posted this particular shot I had taken back when I went to Decatur Alabama back in September of 2008*. On the return leg of the trip, we stopped in Macon, Georgia. There, I found this large antebellum house named Overlook, sitting atop the hill. Standing on its wide verandah, it's not at all doubtful as to how the house got its name, as the view of the city from it is pretty impressive.

I had known about the house before, finding it (or, rather, its saracenic summer house) in John Maass's book The Victorian Home in America, the 1972 follow-up to his 1957 volume The Gingerbread Age: A Victorian View of America. (Maass's 1957 book is notable as being one of the first positive overviews of American nineteenth-century architecture and culture, after a half-century of retrospectives which had presented the American Victorian period in negative, scornful light.)

I was pleased, after some frustrating research (the building was renamed "Woodruff House" after it housed a private school/university in the 1960s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as such. This made researching the house as "Overlook" somewhat difficult.) to find that the house was still standing on its tall hill in central Georgia - but it was the summer house, with its wonderfully sinuous saracenic lines that I was concerned about the most. It was really special.

That was what was really wonderful about going to Macon, is being surprised. I was surprised that the summerhouse was still there - because normally these things go away. Really fast. Such is the nature of most nineteenth-century garden structures: they don't have a good survival rate.

But what this post is about - to bring it to a quick wrap-up, is that I am surprised this house, and its grounds don't get more attention than they do. Overlook has to be the finest, and largest of the antebellum houses surviving in Georgia. If it's not the largest, or finest, then it is among those largest and finest that do survive in Georgia, and the South in general. Yet there is very little about it online, or in print that I am aware of.

Overlook no longer should be overlooked. It deserves to be done justice by its loveliness.

* Even I was a bit guilty of not giving it its proper due - because it took me nearly two years to realize I had never posted a photo of the house. Which is a bit bad because I really like this (and by this photo, I refer to the one at the top of the blog post) shot of it. I used to be really into the yellow filter (not a photoshop filter, but the actual screw-onto-the lens filter that photoshop can never match the effect of) and this trip fell in the peak of my yellow-filter addiction. It has since waned drastically, but I still take it out and use it on occaasion, and I still like it.

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