November 1, 2012

Murray historic homes open for special Christmas tours

Submitted by event organizers

— The Whitfield-Murray Historical Society and the Friends of the Vann House announce that Murray County’s two oldest houses will be open for special tours during this Christmas season.

The Historical Society’s annual “Holiday House” will be held at the famous Carter’s Quarter or Rock Spring Farm on Old U.S. 411 in southeast Murray County on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, from 2 to 5 p.m.

George Harlan, a Cherokee, built the original part of what is now the Carter House in the early years of the 19th century. Acquired by Farish Carter, a very wealthy Georgia entrepreneur, after the Cherokee Land Lottery of 1832, the Carter plantation expanded to include several thousand acres under the direction of “Colonel Sam” Samuel M. Carter Sr. by the 1850s. Soon the Carter name was associated with a steamboat landing on the Coosawattee River, a post office, the militia district, a school and a community — and even the city of Cartersville in Bartow County. The Carter Plantation was one of the few to successfully make the change from slave labor to free labor and continued to produce a variety of agriculture commodities well into the 20th century, under “Mr. Sam” Carter.

Today, Carters Quarter/Rock Spring Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is still owned by Carter descendants who invite you to see their historic home. The Carters also had business ventures in Milledgeville, Atlanta and Dalton. They were related to Georgia governors Charles McDonald and Alfred Colquitt as well as noted Confederate leader Benjamin Harvey Hill. “Mr. Sam” Carter was a prominent Murray County civic leader serving as a school trustee, as a member of the Board of Education, and a contributor to the original Murray County Hospital. In Dalton, some of the Hamiltons who operated the Crown Cotton Mill and who led in the creation of Hamilton Memorial Hospital were Carter descendants, too.

The Holiday House at Carters will include guided tours of the greenery-filled house, refreshments and visits to original plantation outbuildings like the kitchen, cook’s house, office, rendering house, spring house, trunk house and the family cemetery. The cost is $10 per person ages 12 and up while those under 12 are only $5. Holiday House proceeds always go to benefit the operation of the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society and its efforts to preserve the rich heritage of the area. For more information, call the Historical Society at (706) 278-0217.

 The following weekend the Moravian Candlelight Tours will return to the Chief Vann House Historic Site in Spring Place. This Christmas tradition began more than three decades ago and features authentic natural decorations, guided tours of the Vann House and the restored Cherokee homestead, and real Moravian refreshments.

The Candlelight event commemorates the devoted Moravian missionaries of Salem, N.C., who brought the Christmas celebration to the Cherokees of northwest Georgia in 1805. The Vann House was built shortly after the Harlan-Carter home — and some believe that the Vanns “copied” some features of the older house. Visitors to both sites during the December events will observe unique staircases, similar carvings on the mantles and the same building style.

 The Vann House is open every week Thursday to Saturday, but the Candelight Tours will be held only on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14 and 15, from 5 until 9 p.m. Admission charges at the Vann House are $6 for adults, $5.50 for seniors and $4 for youth (those 5 and under are admitted free). Call the Vann House Historic Site at (706) 695-2598 for more details.