Historic Structures

Wise Sanatorium No. 2 - Plains Convalescent Home, Plains Georgia

The Wise Sanitarium was founded by three brothers from one of Plains' prominent families. Dr. Burr Thaddeus Wise (1882-1950), son of Plains' first mayor, Burr Thomas Wise, was the first of the brothers to become a doctor. Upon graduating from medical school at Tulane University in 1908, he began to practice in Plains with a case of supplies and a folding operating table. In 1911, his brother, Sam (1884-1943), also earned his medical degree at Tulane and, in 1912, the two men established the first hospital in Plains on the second floor of the Plains Pharmacy; it could accommodate ten to fifteen patients. In 1914, the youngest brother, Bowman J. (1888-1951), returned home from Tulane with a medical degree and joined his brothers, creating the threesome that would come to be known as the Three Wise Men. In 1916, the brothers moved from the office over the pharmacy to the second floor of a building on Main Street. The second story of the building was destroyed in a fire during the time that the current structure was under construction. The construction of the $75,000 hospital was a community effort and a great source of local pride. Much of the wood structure came from the Wise farm in Plains. Jimmy Carter's father, James Earl Carter Sr., was on the hospital's board of directors, and soon after James Earl Jr. was born at the hospital in October 1924, he became the proud owner of several shares of Wise Hospital stock. The new facility for sixty patients featured an X-ray, an operating room with skylights, and a radium department. The only other radium obtainable in the area was in Atlanta, so black and white patients with cancer came from miles around for treatment. A security deed for $5,000, taken out on June 10, 1922, describes a large brick hospital for white people and a smaller hospital for negroes. In 1931, the Americus Times Recorder reported Wise Sanatorium (sic) is also a great asset to Plains and the surrounding territory, providing expert medical and surgical attention for those needing the facilities of a hospital. Ailing people reputedly came long distances to see the Wise doctors. So many that a hotel was built on the lot where the Phillips 66 Service Station that was formerly Billy Carter's now stands.

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Plains High School, Plains Georgia

The first Plains school was a two-story frame structure facing Bond Street on the west side of the current school property. Plains citizens raised $1,800 to erect this building which was first opened to students in 1900. Julia Coleman, who would later be cited by Jimmy Carter as one of the major influences in his life, began teaching English at the school in 1912. In the late 1910s, there was an effort throughout Sumter County to consolidate many of the one-teacher school houses into larger, better-equipped schools. At his time, the Mossy Dell School and Planters Academy both merged with the Plains School. With the consolidation came new school buildings in the towns of Union and New Era, and on August 17, 1920, the citizens of Plains followed suit and held a meeting to discuss the construction of a new school building to replace the frame structure on Bond Street. To finance the school, the board of trustees sold $50,000 of 5 percent, 30-year serial bonds. Under the leadership of chairman W.T. Wise, the trustees advertised in the Manufacturer's Record for an architect to build the proposed $50,000 ten-room brick or stucco building. Although the name of the architect is unknown, Plains residents remember that the school was erected by local builder Ernest T. Wellons, the son of Reverend Augustus C. Wellons (who constructed many homes as well as one of the 1913 Wise Hospital building on Main Street). The old frame school suffered from a one-room fire while the new school building was still under construction, and Clarence Dodson remembers his first-grade class being evacuated from the old school and taken directly to the new one to continue classes in the completed section.

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Billy Carter Gas Service Station, Plains Georgia

During Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign in 1975-76, much attention was lavished on this service station, then owned by his colorful and outspoken younger brother, Billy. He considered his station a social rather than a business venture and it served as a hangout for his down home fraternity, where men would gather to drink beer and shoot the breeze after work. The media capitalized on the service station as a symbol of Jimmy's rural southern upbringing. The building was maintained in its run-down, informal state and became a stronghold for the local residents who were disenchanted with the drastic changes taking place in Plains with Carter's ascendancy to the White House. Billy used it as the headquarters for his unsuccessful campaign as the No Progress candidate for mayor of Plains. In the 1920-30s, the service-station lot was the site of a large, two-story hotel used by many people who came to Plains for treatment at the Wise Sanitarium. Records show that the hotel and property were owned by Burr Thaddeus Wise, one of the hospital's founders, and during its years of operation had several different managers, including Ernest and Rosa Dean, a Mr. Aiken, Walter Kennedy and Flora Markette Kennedy. The hotel was torn down sometime between 1937-48 and the property was left vacant until 1956 when Mill Jennings (1909-72) opened his Amoco Service Station there. He first owned a service station in a wood building on the west end of the Main Street business block, but he wanted to move his business to a busier street. He purchased the frame structure from the Jones Sprinkler Company (now the Jones Piping Company), which had been in operation in Plains since 1933, and moved it to the hotel lot. The building was originally built by the Jones family for their daughter who used it as a practice room for ballet.

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Belair Mansion, Nashville Tennessee

Belair, one of the impressive antebellum homes in the Nashville area, was built in 1832 on a grant of one thousand acres by Harding of Belle Meade for his daughter, Elizabeth, who married Joseph Clay of Kentucky. Constructed of bricks laid in Flemish bond, the house was built in an L-shape, but has had many additions. In 1838, William Nichol bought the place and added a wing on either end, as well as making changes to the house. The winding stairway, rosewood doors and silver hardware were added at this time, and it is probable that some elaboration to the front of the house was made. The exterior bricks have been painted white. The style of architecture of Belair is generally Federal, with some classic revival, influence shown in the two-story portico with fluted Doric columns and a one-story deck roof. There are a total of 30 rooms in the house, with four halls and three stairways. At the back of the large entrance hall an elliptical stairway rises to the second floor. The stairway is similar to the one at the Hermitage, as are the two wings added by Nichol in 1838, indicating the possible influence of Andrew Jackson, a neighbor who often visited Nichol.

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Belle Meade Plantation Mansion , Nashville Tennessee

Belle Meade mansion, the plantation house of theseveral thousand acre plantation that once existed along with the mansion, was owned and built by the Harding family. John Harding founded the plantation in 1807 and gradually added land to what was to become one of the finest farms, especially thoroughbred, in the country. The original deed included one of middle Tennessee's first permanent structures, Dunham's Station. The Harding family occupied the property from 1807 until 1904. General W. G. Harding built the present mansion and his daughter Selene who married William Hicks Jackson, a confederate general, continued to live at Belle Meade. Other families owned the mansion as a private home in the twentieth century, but the farm Was soon divided for residential and park use. In 1953, the State of Tennessee bought the mansion and 24 acres for restoration as a state historic site. The Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities has done the restoration since. The Belle Meade stud was one of the most famous nurseries of Thoroughbred horses. In addition, the farm sold breeding stock of ponies, Alclerney cattle, Cotswold sheeg, and Cashmere goats. General Harding and his son-in-law, General Jackson^were pioneers in the science of animal husbandry. After the death of Gen. Jackson and his son, William Harding Jackson, the mansion, land, and livestock were sold in 1904. At that time Belle Meade was America's oldest and largest Thoroughbred Farm.

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Haines Shoe House, York Pennsylvania

Modeled after a work boot, the house was built by shoe salesman Mahlon Haines in 1948 as a form of advertisement. His shoe business claimed it made shoes from hoof to hoof because the company began the process with raising the cattle. The house, which is 25 feet tall and contains five stories, was once rented out to couples, and is now open for public tours. It is located on Shoe House Road, next to a shoe-shaped doghouse. Haines requested the design by handing a work boot to an architect and saying, Build me a house like this. The living room is located in the toe, the kitchen is located in the heel, two bedrooms are located in the ankle, and an ice cream shop is located in the instep. There is also a stained glass panel that shows Mahlon holding a pair of shoes with a message below it that reads, Haines the Shoe Wizard. Fire escapes were added in the 1960s. Haines never lived in the shoe house but in his later years after marrying his 2nd wife he built a home across the street. The shoe house was initially made available as a weekend vacation spot for 38 elderly couples a year; the first such couple were John F. and Liza Baum of Loganville. Shoe House vacation contests were also held for a few seasons among newlyweds affiliated with Haines' shoe stores; an early winner in 1950 had all expenses paid for a week, including the service of a maid and butler, and went home with a free pair of shoes. The house was offered for rent by the public in the mid-1950s.

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Sloppy Joes Bar, Key West Florida

Only limited historical sources exist documenting the original Victoria Restaurant, which was to become the home of Sloppy Joe's Bar in 1937. During construction in 1917, a photograph was taken of workmen preparing the foundation of the restaurant. Another photo, taken during the 1920s shows a view of the restaurant at the corner of Duval and Greene streets. Although the print is somewhat fuzzy, it is possible to see that Victoria Restaurant has been painted just above the entrance to the building. The restaurant is also listed at 201 Duval Street in Key West city directory for 1917-1919, and the restaurant appears on the 1926 edition of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Key West. Juan Farto, a native of Spain, purchased the land on which to build the Victoria Restaurant in 1917. According to Juanita Veliz, Jose Castillo, Farto's brother-in-law, served as the architect for the building. According to Farto's business card, the Victoria Restaurant was the only first class restaurant in Key West, and featured American and Spanish cooking with seafood as a specialty. During its heyday during the 1920s, the Victoria Restaurant catered to the elite residents and winter visitors on the island. Palm Beach millionaire Malcolm Meacham, who established what was to become Key West International Airport, booked many private dinner parties at the restaurant. Wealthy Cubans en route to mainland Florida via the ferry from Havana and the Overseas Railway would telegraph Farto to prepare paella, a favorite Spanish dish containing rice and seafood. It was the U.S. Navy's club for years and on Saturday nights was used for dances.

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Kenmore House, Fredericksburg Virginia

Kenmore was built as a plantation house by Fielding Lewis and his wife, Betty Washington Lewis, soon after they acquired the property in 1752. The original 863-acre plantation extended to the west of the thriving Tidewater port of Fredericksburg, Virginia, on the Rappahannock River. Kenmore is best known for its elaborate plasterwork ceilings, reputed to be the finest of their kind in America. The geometric floral designs were derived in part from Batty Langley's City and Country Builder's and Workman's Treasury of Designs (London, 1756). The Stucco Man who plastered Kenmore's ceilings also designed ceilings at Mount Vernon, the home of Betty Lewis' brother, George Washington. The symmetrical Georgian design of Kenmore is characterized by two five-bay brick facades, a half-hipped roof, end chimneys, and a modillion cornice. The river entry is distinguished by a finely executed one-story portico supported by aquia sandstone columns of the Tuscan order. Thomas T. Waterman speculates that Kenmore was designed by architect John Ariss in The Mansions of Virginia, 1703-1776 (Chapel Hill, 1946). Although little documentary evidence has been found to substantiate his claim. Although Colonel Lewis' primary business was raising grain, tobacco and flax, he helped establish the Fredericksburg gunnery for the Continental Armies in 1775. Lewis descendants sold Kenmore in 1797. During the first half of the nineteenth century, Kenmore was owned by the Samuel Gordon family, who named the house after their ancestral home in Scotland, Kenmuir. The William K. Howard family lived in Kenmore from 1881 until 1914 and restored the plaster ceilings to their original condition. In 1922, Kenmore was acquired by the newly formed Kenmore Association. The mansion and gardens were restored, flanking dependencies were reconstructed on their original sites, and the house was furnished. Now a National Historic Landmark, Kenmore is open to the public as a house museum under the direction of the Association. Kenmore was built by Fielding Lewis for his bride, Betty Washington (sister of George), after Lewis acquired the land in 1752. Its simple exterior is a perfect foil for the exquisitely lavish and rich plasterwork found on the ceilings and chimney pieces of the first floor rooms. The design of the library ceiling can be traced to a plate in Batty Langley's City and Country Builder's Treasury. Although such lavish work was by no means foreign to contemporary English stucco work, it was exceedingly fare in eighteenth century American houses. Kenmore's plasterwork decoration is considered to be among the very finest colonial work extant in the country.

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Old Beersheba Inn - Beersheba Springs Hotel, Beersheba Springs Tennessee

The long line of important names closely associated with Beersheba Springs make this one of the most interesting, if not the most interesting, settlements in the State of Tennessee. This is not to be construed as belittling the settlement in the Watauga Section of Tennessee or the Natchez Trace Section, but the difference between Beersheba and the aforementioned sections is that Beersheba is a small community whereas the Watauga Settlement and the Natchez Trace District are so large as to be made up of many group settlements and in that way we are differentiating Beersheba from other important areas. Beersheba also differs in that where the political, religious and social developments were excuted or administered or flowered in Watauga and in the Natchez Trace, it was here at Beersheba that many of those people in whose hands the society and culture and politics were placed that these men gathered and where so many of their policies were conceived. Architecturally the Old Beersheba Inn is unique in that the plan of the building group takes the shape of a large rectangular court which furnished meeting places in the open for the guests of the Inn where religious services, political speeches and open air amusements could be indulged in. This shape also formed a natural protection against the ravages of Indians and animals which were not uncommon at that time. It was in this court that Bishop Otey and Bishop Polk ministered to the Indians and the first Christian Conversion in that district was made here.

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Railroad Power Director Center - Thirtieth Street Station, Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Power Directors Circuit and Switch Indicating Boards were designed to visually and aurally indicate the operating status of the railroad's power system. This particular power director center monitored and supervised operation of all switches in the railroad's power control system from North Philadelphia to Wilmington, Delaware. The power directors working at this site oversaw and continually updated the electrical status of the system. Power directors were responsible for safely de-energizing catenary segments for maintenance and repair. Most commonly, actual physical control of a switch was accomplished by a tower or substation operator responding to telephoned orders from the power director. However, some power switching was done directly by the power director. The power director recorded the position of the switch by manually actuating a corresponding indicating light on the model board. The model board and operational system that evolved represents a precomputer technology for centralized control of a electrified railroad power network. The early years of the 20th century saw the evolution of electrified railways all over the world. Electrical energy was and continues to be an effective, economical, clean and practical source of railroad traction power. Concurrent with the employment of electric power, railroad engineers developed methods of controlling and monitoring its distribution and use. For an electric railroad to work, controlled power had to be delivered to trackside in quantity. Supervision of power distribution and its regulation is the responsibility of workers designated as load dispatchers and power directors. These individuals are charged with the responsibility of overseeing the electrical equipment in the system under their control1. Power directors are responsible for coordinating power handling with train dispatchers and maintenance crews to safely allow work on the catenary and transmission system.

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