Monday, April 6, 2009

Springtime at the 1797 Ezekiel Harris House

Amid the hustle and bustle of Broad Street in downtown Augusta, it's hard to imagine the 1797 Ezekiel Harris house as it originally was, an isolated house in the country along a dirt road. Ezekiel Harris bought two lots of the White House Tract in 1794. Among those 323 ½ acres, he built what has come to be “the finest eighteenth-century house surviving in Georgia...", according to The Smithsonian Guide to Historic America. Over the years, the land was sold bit by bit as it passed from the hands of one family to another, resulting in the neighborhood of Harrisburg. But as you walk through the dogwoods and roses in bloom and see the apples starting grow, it is a little easier to remember the beauty of nature the Harris family would have been surrounded by.

AMH Education Manager, Heather Sellers captured a few springtime shots of the grounds of the 1797 Ezekiel Harris House. Take a look at the beauty of springtime in Augusta.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Artifact of the Day - Surveyor's Compass and Chain

Augusta, Georgia's second oldest city, was founded in 1736 on the western bank of the Savannah River. General James Edward Oglethorpe, the colony’s founder, ordered the settlement and chose its location at the head of navigation of the Savannah River below the shoals created by the fall line.
Oglethorpe’s vision was to establish an interior trading post for purchasing furs and other commodities from Native Americans to compete with New Savannah Town, a small outpost on the South Carolina side of the river. Augusta thrived as a trading post from the beginning, with several of the South Carolina traders moving their base of operations to the new settlement. By 1739 a fort was completed (Fort Augusta), and the official surveyor of the colony, Noble Jones, laid out the town. Noble Jones' colonial plan of Augusta was similar to that of Savannah, but not quite as elaborate.

Jones' plan of the "Old Augusta Town" included one large square or plaza, was four streets deep and three streets wide. Fort Augusta was adjacent to the 40 town lots on the west side near the river. Augusta named two of its original streets for Georgia’s colonial governors: Reynolds Street for John Reynolds, and Ellis Street for Henry Ellis. These streets are still prominent features of the Downtown Augusta and Piched Gut (now Olde Town) historic districts.

Here is Noble Jone's original town plan for Augusta:

Above are two artifacts on display in Augusta's Story - a Surveyor's Compass and Surveyor's Chain. Noble Jones would have used similar equipment to lay out the town of Augusta in 1739. The Surveyor's chain was used to measure distances during land surveys, and is made of bent metal, hooked together much like a crude metal fence. The Surveyor's Compass was used to determine exact location. This finely made compass includes levels, mounting hardware, and a wooden travel case.
Check them out and learn more about the founding of Augusta on your next visit to the Augusta Museum of History.

Have you wordled???

(Click on wordle to see more!)
Image courtesy of

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Our Family Fun Day series continues with Botanicals of the South Family Fun Day this Saturday (April 4th) from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Families are invited to glimpse the Natural South, learn of William Bartram and how he recorded species of plants, flowers, and trees, discover Baron Von Reck’s voyages through Georgia, and create their own leaf rubbings to take home.

The film, The Curious Mr. Catesby, will be on view in the History Theater. The documentary explores the life and works of Mark Catesby, who as an explorer, was the first to conduct a critical study of the lush and varied habitat of North America, particularly the southeast colonies and the environs of the Lowcountry and Piedmont areas. His meticulous paintings and etchings of birds and plants captured the diverse natural beauty of colonial America 100 years before Audubon.

Family Fun Days are FREE with regular Museum admission: $4 for Adults, $3 for Seniors, $2 for Children, and free for members and children under age 5. It will be a great day for any of your Masters guests with children arriving in town early for the tournament, or if you just want to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy weekend!

For more information about Botanicals of the South Family Fun Day or additional family programming, contact the Museum at (706) 722-8454.