Historic Structures

Davis House - Albany Little Theatre, Albany Georgia

Date added: July 3, 2019 Categories: Georgia House Mansion Theater

The home was built around 1853 by Martha Ryals, who transferred ownership to her son, Newton P. Brinson, in 1857. He was in his early twenties and a dry-goods merchant in the firm of Beers and Brinson. Shortly after the Civil War, he sold the house to John A. Davis.

Davis (1832-1905) was a Georgia native who moved to southwest Georgia with his parents. After moving to Albany to practice law, he married, in 1851, Laura C. Hampton, and they raised eight children. He was a man of rich influence in the financial, religious, educational and entertainment fields of Albany and in the state. He had served with the Commissary Department of the Confederate States of America. After serving as local counsel for the Central of Georgia Railroad, he organized the First National Bank of Albany in 1886 and was its first president. He represented the county in the constitutional convention of 1887 and was chairman of the Executive Committee of the Georgia Bankers Association, beginning at its organization in 1891. Davis was known as the "Nestor of Georgia Bankers."

The house has seen many important events due to Captain Davis' sponsorship of the Chautauqua Association of Albany. Many of the prominent state and national figures who came to town were entertained here. The most significant event associated with the house was the reception given former President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis in 1884. Davis and his famous daughter, Winnie, were received at the train depot with a twenty-one-gun salute; Davis spoke to the assembled masses, and then, with two military companies as escorts, went in procession to the house. Jefferson Davis took his seat in the great hall, and people filed by to shake his hand.

Captain Davis' wife died in 1899 and after his own death in 1905, the house passed to their son, Joseph S. Davis, who was also involved with the Chautauqua Association. The house left the family a decade or so later when the Masonic Lodges No. 24 and 591 purchased it and occupied it for a meeting hall for four decades. They added a dining room. In 1965, it was purchased by James Barnett to save it from destruction. He, in turn, sold it to the Albany Little Theatre, Inc., that same year. This group, organized in 1932, held its first production here on February 15, 1966.