Experiencing Southern Gentility At Pebble Hill Plantation.



The Heart Of Southern Gentility: Pebble Hill Plantation

A Place Of Solitude, Fresh Air, And Wide-Open Spaces That Was Once Accessible Only To Those With Fortune Or Fame

The Main House At Pebble Hill Plantation [Courtesy/Pebble Hill Plantation]

For the last hundred years, those who love stories of plantations such as “Gone with the Wind” have headed to Pebble Hill to relax among the pines and pecans of Thomasville, Georgia. Seeking solitude, fresh air, and wide-open spaces, this secret destination was once accessible only to those with fortune or fame.

While the town of Thomasville might look a little like Mayberry over the last century, 71 plantations have been built in the area on 300,000 acres. At the height of the Victorian era, industrial titans from the North descended upon the town and made it the premier American winter retreat.

Presidents Garfield and Eisenhower, and notables including The Duke of Windsor, Jacqueline Kennedy, Joanne Woodward, Joan Crawford, and Jimmy Buffet have all enjoyed extended stays in the privacy of the pines and the heart of Southern gentility. In his novel “A Man in Full”, Tom Wolfe sets a portion of his tale of modern manhood within this southwest Georgia plantation country.

Pebble Hill Plantation, one of the finest plantations in the country still stands in Georgia’s Redhills, welcoming visitors through its historic doors.

This area had huge appeal to many wealthy northerners through the 19th Century. The fertile fields of Georgia's Redhills offered fine hunting, fresh air, a mild winter climate and gracious southern lifestyle. Large parcels of land were available at bargain prices. Some built cottages that rival the Hamptons in grandeur, while others purchased plantations. Among them was Howard Melville Hanna of Standard Oil fame who bought the 3,000 acre Pebble Hill Plantation in 1896.

The Pump House [Courtesy/Pebble Hill Plantation]
Stable Courtyard At Pebble Hill Plantation [Courtesy/Pebble Hill Plantation]

 “Visitors should be prepared to be amazed and captivated by Pebble Hill Plantation,” said Whitney White, Main House Museum Manager. “This 3,000 acre property was changed from a working farm into a winter home and shooting plantation for the Hanna family of Cleveland, Ohio in the late 1800’s. The last family member to own Pebble Hill, Elisabeth Ireland Poe, known as Pansy, willed that the plantation be opened to the public after her death. The museum today is a wonderful example of a 20th century shooting plantation.”

Pebble Hill Plantation is an estate of 3,000 acres located in both Thomas and Grady counties of Georgia.  The portion of the property which is open for public tours covers 77 acres and includes the Main House, a large stable-dairy complex, a collection of antique carriages, kennels, horse paddocks, the plantation laundry, a family cemetery, picnic grounds, gardens, and adjacent lawns and outbuildings.

“Thomas Jefferson Johnson, author of the bill creating Thomas County, established the plantation in the 1820s and constructed the first main house in 1827,” White explains. “A prosperous working plantation in the antebellum era, it survived the death of Johnson in 1847, and the difficult years of the Civil War and Reconstruction.”

"Crossing The Brook" Art At Pebble Hill Plantation [Courtesy/Pebble Hill Plantation]
Quail Shooting With Helen Garfield In 1935 [Courtesy/Pebble Hill Plantation]
Main Staircase Inside Pebble Hill Plantation House [Courtesy/Pebble Hill Plantation]

Pebble Hill seems to go on forever – its area encompasses over 25,000 square- feet, with 18 bedrooms and 21 bathrooms. When it was Pansy Poe's house, the plantation had 80 full-time staff members, up to 100 dogs used for hunting, three kitchens, a country store, two schools, a church, and three cemeteries (one for family, one for staff, and one for the dogs).

History buffs may take a self-guided grounds tour, and a furnished map highlights the points of interest.  The Main House is seen by guided tour and is furnished with prime antiques, Audubons, and includes the Elisabeth Ireland Poe Sporting Art Gallery. The 40-plus room Greek Revival-style main house, completed in 1936, has over 25,000 square feet and several notable design features. Both the main staircase and the dome were originally constructed in Cleveland, then disassembled and shipped for installation. The house also features a 100-foot glassed-in loggia and the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

“The Elisabeth Ireland Poe Gallery showcases the sporting art of Pebble Hill Plantation. Mrs. Poe was an avid equestrian, hunter, and breeder of champion horses and dogs. The artwork she amassed reflects the lifelong passion she had for the sporting life,” White said. “This stately architectural beauty stands proudly amid the magnolias and long leaf pines of southwest Georgia.”

The gates of Pebble Hill still beckon to the public sure to offer a memorable experience for all those who enter.

Candice Reed

A graduate of Kelsey-Jenny College in Communications as well as a certified grant writer, Candice has written for The Los Angeles Times & The New York Times. She loves entertaining and all things French.

Sugar Mill RV Park

Make Sure To Stay At:

Sugar Mill RV Park, a full service 121 site RV park and campground situated on a 54 acre plantation just north of Thomasville, Georgia. Specializing in accommodating both the individual travelers as well as the seasonal and permanent residents.

Download PDF File