The Palmer House is a historic home in Darien, Georgia.
During and preceding the Civil War, Darien's economy depended primarily on its timber industry. In the mid-1860s, Thomas Hilton, Sr. created the lumbering firm Thomas Hilton & Sons with his sons, Thomas Hilton, Jr. and Joseph Hilton, and his nephew James L. Foster. This business later became Hiltons and Fosters, Hilton Timber & Lumber Company, and finally Hilton and Dodge Lumber Company.
In the early years of Hiltons & Foster, Hilton purchased two contiguous parcels of land in Darien at the corner of Scriven (now called Screven) and First Streets. On these lots, Hilton built a two story house and rear cookhouse. This modest home would later become the grand Palmer House.
In 1868, Hilton sold this house to Edytha Wright Wilcox. Wilcox's father, a Darien merchant name William W. Churchill, was her husband William A. Wilcox's business partner, and the Wilcox and Churchill families were neighbors. Before Edytha Wilcox bought the house, the Churchills had entered into a residential lease with the McIntosh County Academy on January 1 1867. Their home on lot 103 was directly adjacent to the Hilton property on lots 104 and 105.
In the 1870s, Wilcox and Churchill expanded the house and opened it as a boarding house. At first, the Wilcox and Churchill families privately managed the boarding house. However, when William Churchill passed away in 1888, the firm of Wilcox & Churchill dissolved.
In the 1880s, a widow named Julia F.D. Palmer moved to Darien and accepted a live-in position managing daily responsibilities at the Wilcox boarding house.
In the 1890s, under Palmer's guidance and care, the building became the most popular boarding house in Darien. Locals and boarders began referring to the house as the Palmer House. Due to the boarding house's popularity, an additional room was added in the early 1900s.
In April 1911, Edytha Wilcox sold the Palmer House to the town physician Dr. P. S. Clark and his associates. The new owners presented a plan in The Darien Gazette to construct additional rooms. However, they sold the property without making any modifications just two months later, in June 1911, to Edytha Wilcox's son-in-law Augustus Moultie Quarterman. Around this time the building's name was changed to the Palmer Hotel. When Quarterman passed away three months later in September 1911, his wife Julia Florence Quarterman became boarding house proprietor until her death in 1918, when ownership of the Palmer Hotel was passed down to her children Edward and Florence Quarterman.
After Julia Quarterman's death, Julia Palmer's daugher Jane DeLegal Woodward and her family moved into the boarding house to assist with running the house. Jane's husband, Jessie Jackson Woodward, became manager of the Palmer Hotel, and in December of 1925, Woodward's son, Jackson J. Woodward, Jr. purchased the house from the Quartermans. Although Jackson Woodward, Jr. was the official owner, it was his father Jessie Jackson Woodward who continued to operate the boarding house.
In 1936, Jessie Jackson Woodward passed away, and Jane Woodward and her daughters Alice and Isabelle continued to operate the house. However, on July 8, 1938, Julia Palmer passed away, and in the early 1940s the Woodwards formally closed the Palmer Hotel. After nearly seventy years as a hotel, the building became the Woodwards' private residence.
In 1968, Jackson J. Woodward sold the Palmer House to his sister Alice. After Jane Woodward passed away in 1973, Alice lived alone in the house until her death in 1991. In 1988, she sold the house to her sister Isabelle, who owned the house until 1999, when she sold it to the City of Darien. On May 3, 2011, Jay and Kay Barrow purchased the house for $585,000, and it is now a private residence.
The Palmer House is a two story mid-19th century house with a metal roof, wooden siding, and heart pine floors. Extensions since the initial building phase have drastically increased the size and the number of rooms. Today, the Palmer House comprises two buildings--the main house and an outdoor kitchen. The house is bounded by Screven (née Scrivin) Street and 1st Street West.
Modifications and dates Edit
- 1880s - House expanded
- Early 1900s - Single room added north of the rear extension
- Mid 1910s - Electrical wiring installed, ceilings fitted with light fixtures
- Mid 1910s - Plumbing installed, small northern additions to make room for new bathrooms
- 2006 - House renovated
- c. 2011 - Outdoor kitchen added
Legends and rumors Edit
The building is alleged to be haunted, and claimed by some Darien residents to be a site of hauntings and demonic activity. Some of the most common tales associated with the house involve sightings of a demonic or hag-like old woman in and around the house.