The House on Literary Hill

The home of Capt. J.E. De Vaughn, and his wife, "Polly."

It was on one of those typical smoldering, sun-drenched afternoons last summer when I happened upon “The House on Literary Hill.” I was traveling the back roads — as I often do — and on this day they led me through the sleepy South Georgia town of Montezuma. The architectural majesty of this old mansion, which was clearly in a state of deterioration from years of neglect, was like something plucked straight from the pages of Gone With The Wind. Everything about this placed screamed, “I have a story to tell!”

I couldn’t resist turning around and going back for a better look and the opportunity to snap a quick shot with my iPhone. Upon closer inspection, I could see indications the house may have been undergoing some slow renovation process. Whatever the case, I didn’t get the impression anyone was in a rush to rescue this treasure of Neoclassical Greek Revival design from declining into dilapidation — the irreversible kind.

That night I did a little Google digging into the house’s history, and here’s what I learned:

The house was built in 1885 by Capt. J.E. De Vaughn for his new bride (and second wife) “Mollie” Porter. The porch has four Corinthian columns and two Corinthian monumental pilasters, all of which are fluted. Modillions and a large fanlight window can be found in the pedimented top of the porch.

Capt. J.E. De Vaughn

I discovered that De Vaughn — whose father served in the war of 1812 — entered the Confederate Army as a private, rising to the rank of captain in the Army of Tennessee. While serving under Gen. Joseph (“Fighting Joe”) Wheeler (to whom I’m related), De Vaughn was captured at Sugar Creek, Ala. and spent the last two years of the war as a prisoner on Johnson’s Island.

Returning home from the war, De Vaughn went on to become a successful businessman in Montezuma — as both a general store owner and financier. Accounts written at the time described him as a generous man with a “tender heart,” devoting time and money to causes such as the “orphans of Georgia.”

The following eulogy was offered at De Vaughn’s funeral:

“He was a man of exalted character, generous in his benefaction, charitable in thought and firm in religious principles. His well spent life is over; and

‘As the days lay down their brightness

And, bathed in splendor, die,’

so he went to rest, his work well done, his career complete, beloved by family and friends.”

I’m sure there’s much more to the story of “The House On Literary Hill,” but that’s enough to satisfy my curiosity about this tired old Southern mansion … at least until the next time I pass through Montezuma.

4 Responses to “The House on Literary Hill”

  1. Thank you for the article on this lovely, da house. But when I visit this little city I always stop and admire this beautiful home. I try to imagine it when it was in it’s glory. Thank you, again!

  2. I wish I had the finances to buy and renovate this gem to it’s former beautiful glory!

  3. In the 70s and 80s Bill Bolton ran the bc all stars camp, which hosted basketball legends like Charles Barkley and Julius Irving. Bill owned this house and my mother worked for him as a secretary inside of it for the camp. He bought her one of the first two computers in the country. I grew up playing in this house and it’s grounds. Vanna White was a model for a calendar for the camp before she was famous. That ended in a lawsuit after she was. Bill and his wife Mary Anne moved to Florida after the camp died out and left my father as the care taker. Bill died last year and his wife lost the house and the antique expensive piano that sits on the second floor.
    There is a basement like crawlspace. The back door opens into a high ceilinged room. To the right of that is a bathroom which connects to what they used as a bedroom. To the left of the first room is the kitchen which walks around into a breakfast room and then a dining room. At this point, there are those tall blatantly southern sliding doors that all of our old houses have. Of the dining room is a study. Off of the study is the main entrance hall. Very high ceilings here.Across the hall from the study is the music room. Beside that is the door to the carport and the main staircase. There is a back staircase in the back entry room. Upstairs is an office. Across from that is a bedroom and bathroom which connects to the another bedroom in suite style. There is an additional bedroom separated from a closet. There is also a massive attic. Bill had been trying to repair the place. Even taking classes on how to make the moldings for the top of the columns. I will miss the ghosts who haunt that place.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Real Southern Men Launches Today! | Real Southern Men - April 10, 2011

    […] Or take a look back into Southern history, as embodied in “The House on Literary Hill.” […]

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