Mumford House Brantley Co., Georgia

Mumford House

This home was originally built around 1848 by Sylvester Mumford, who located here from New York in the mid 1800s.  The photos on this page though, are not of the grand plantation of yore, it's of a ruined shell, destroyed by fire.

On the morning of Wednesday 23 March 2005, the home reportedly was struck by  lightning and burned. The rural community has no fire marshal to conduct a thorough investigation, so the exact cause of the blaze was not determined. There were no witnesses to the fire's start but it is presumed the cause was a lightning strike which caused a small fire to smolder for hours until it eventually turned into a blaze. No matter what the cause, this once grand home has now been destroyed.

For many years the home stood vacant, and according to some locals, was a magnet for the curious in the 1970s-80s. Though it was privately owned, many folks just wandered in, and took their own personal tours. Of course, vandalism occurred, as does with most unprotected buildings; however, the home stood the test of time, and avoided total ruin until 2005. Proof of the stories I heard about people touring the home on their own in the 1980's can be found here. These photos were taken in 1981 by James R. Lockhart for the the GA DNR and hosted on the National Parks Service website.

The Mumford home was located in Waynesville, and at the time of its construction, Wayne County. The home site is on Mumford Road in what is now known as Brantley County, just off Hwy. 82 West. Throughout the ages, the home maintained all of its majestic beauty, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places around 1982, possibly due to the photos taken by Mr. Lockhart.

About 100 feet south of the home stands the small family burial plot. Directly across the road is the Hazlehurst Family cemetery, where once was located an Episcopal Church. Not only was the neighborhood host to the Mumfords and the Hazlehursts, but some of the St. Simons Island elite owned property nearby as well.

Sylvester Mumford was in the mercantile trade in Waynesville, and partnered with Job Tison who owned a store and rooming house on Post Road. As the crow flies, it was about 10-15 miles from the Mumford home to Bethel, the home of Job Tison in Glynn County. Together, Mumford and Tison ran their businesses, and in 1841, Sylvester married one of Job's daughters, Theresa E. Tison.

By 1850, two children were born to this union, Oceanna on 7 December 1841 (she died 15 February 1920), and Goertner born sometime in 1847 or 1848 (she died16 March 1946). The slave schedule for 1850, Wayne County, shows that Sylvester owned only 5 enslaved people, most likely they were just a status symbol, or possibly his wife's dowery or inheritance from when her father died. In 1860, he has eleven people enslaved. More likely, the Mumford's lived off profits from the mercantile trade.

Because of its longevity, the home became inextricably linked to the community as a whole and the fertile source of fascinating stories passed from generation to generation. Its loss is deeply felt.

From the National Park Service, the following is the narrative submitted to have the home registered; it describes the home's history and origins:

          The Sylvester Mumford House, built about 1848, is a two-over-two room wood frame Plantation Plain style house with a Victorian front porch and wings added after the Civil War. Three historic outbuildings and the remains of a fourth are located on the heavily wooded property which is in the vicinity of Waynesville, Brantley County, Georgia.
          The wood-frame house is weatherboarded and sits on a brick pier foundation with brick lattice infill. The sheet metal covered, gable roof is supported by hand-hewn rafters that are mortised and tenoned and pinned with wooden pegs. The core of the house, built about 1848, is a five-bay, two-over-two Plantation Plain style structure which has been added to a number of times over the years. This oldest section has a central trabeated entranceway with sidelights and overlights. Its double-hung sash windows have simple wood surrounds with pediment-like lintels. Exterior end brick chimneys are unmatched. A two-story pedimented porch with Victorian scrollwork brackets and balusters was added at some time after the Civil War. At the rear of the house are two two-story ells, with a two-story porch with exterior stairway between, which may date to nearly the same period as the original house. A one-story polygonal wing sheathed in novelty siding that dates from after the Civil War extends from the south ell. The two-story north ell has been added on to at its north end to make a north wing to balance the south wing. Its interior end chimney has a cap that matches that of the other north (exterior) chimney. There is little con- sistency in the window treatment of the wings and rear ells. Size, number of lights and surrounds vary from area to area.
          The interior of the house has a two-over-two room with central stairhall plan with two parlors on the first floor and two bedrooms above. A kitchen is located on the first floor of the north rear wing, a small bedroom, bathroom and closet above. The south polygonal room is reported to have been a library. Walls and ceilings are plastered, ex- cept in the stairhalls where the original hand-planed, wide beaded boards remain. In many places the plaster has fallen away, revealing underneath hand-hewn lath in much of the old part of the house, and sawn lath elsewhere. The first floor stairhall appears to have been extended about three feet to the east (rear) to accommodate an open, one-run Victorian stairway with turned balusters. Door and window surrounds in the old part of the house have wide architrave trim. In the polygonal "library" windows and pocket doors have filleted trim that meets at bull's-eye corner blocks. The original simple wood mantels remain in the two upstairs bedrooms. Downstairs, in the south front room the mantel is missing, in the north room it has been replaced.
          The house is located about a mile northeast of Waynesville off a dirt road in a clearing in the forest. Large shade trees dripping with Spanish moss and a brick path which leads to the front entrance give some sense of the original landscaping, although the property is very overgrown. To the rear of the house along a dirt track which leads back into the forest to the east are three historic outbuildings and the remains of a fourth, all en- croached upon by the forest undergrowth. Nearest the house is a collapsed structure, with part of a brick chimney and a pile of timber in evidence. Immediately to the east of this is a small log structure with a brick foundation and "porch" area created by an extension of the gable roof. The structure has an unfinished interior and is constructed of sawn logs with full dovetail notching. To the southeast of the log structure is a well-finished three room wood frame weatherboarded building which must have been used as a residence. Further along the road, again to the east, is a crude wood frame shed.

From recent accounts (2019), we learn that the Mumford home has been razed to the ground. It's a terrible loss, but, the monies needed to restore such a home from a fire, is just too extreme.

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