|An 1857 house is home to the Washington Historical Museum. The musem boasts a large collection featuring Civil War relics, Indian artifacts, and a recreation of 19th century home life.
Civil War Relics
A collection of Civil War relics, gathered for many years by the Last Cabinet Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, is one of the finest in the South. It includes Jefferson Davis' camp chest given to him by English sympathizers and used until he left his generals, cabinet members and staff after the final cabinet meeting.
The museum collection includes original photographs, signed documents, Joe Brown pikes, General Robert Toombs' uniform and Ku Klux Klan regalia of the Reconstruction days. Casts of the original busts of the men in Georgia's Hall of Fame by Sculptor Bryant Baker are on display as is a collection of Indian relics gathered by a native of Wilkes County, the late Morton Reese. A fine collection of guns of the period is on loan from the estate of the late Alexander Wright.
1800's Home Recreation
The main floor of the museum is furnished as a typical double parlor, dining room and bedroom of the mid 19th century. The ground floor has been restored as a kitchen and storage area, including a dry well. The corner cupboard in the plantation office on the ground floor was made in Wilkes County.
Many of the furnishings in the Museum were given to the City of Washington by Edward Fauntleroy Willis of Richmond, Virginia. They originally belonged to Mr. Willis' great grandfather, Dr. Francis Thomas Willis, who was a native of Washington and are typical of things to be found in fine Georgia homes of the mid 19th century.
The grounds of the museum were landscaped following an early garden plan using plants typical of ante-bellum gardens. The camellia in front of the house is an early variety and one of the largest in this section of Georgia.
History of the House
The Washington Historical Museum, built on land once owned by Micajah Williamson, is a white frame, two-story house. Its earliest section was probably constructed in 1835 or 1836 by Albert Gallatin Semmes who acquired the land in 1835 from his brother-in-law, William L. Harris. Half-brother of Brigadier General Paul Jones Semmes, C.S.A. and a cousin of Admiral Raphael Semmes, C.S.N., Semmes later served as Associate Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. He sold the property, dwelling and outbuildings to Mrs. Mary Sneed in 1836 for $4,500.00.
In 1857 the house and the hundred acres surrounding it were acquired by Samuel Barnett, Georgia's first Railroad Commissioner. Mr. Barnett greatly enlarged the house by the addition of the front rooms, hallways and the present staircase. His descendants lived here until the death of his daughter, Mrs. Edward McKendree Bounds, in 1913.
At that time the surrounding acreage was divided and sold separately, the house with its present lot going to Mr. William Armstrong Slaton whose family lived here until 1955. Shortly thereafter the City of Washington acquired the property and home and deeded it to the State of Georgia for the establishment of a museum. The restoration of the home by the Georgia Historical Commission was planned and directed by the late Thomas G. Little, historical architect.
Related Article: A Supersize Doll House to Jefferson Davis' Camp Chest. A firsthand account of some museum vistor's experience.
308 East Robert Toombs Avenue
Washington, Georgia 30673
Tues. - Sat. 10-5, Sun. 2-5
Closed on Mondays and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
$2.00 ages 13-adult, $1.00 ages 6-12, free ages 5 and under