Nolan Plantation | Georgia | c. 1906
There was a time in this region of Georgia when cotton was king. When expansive plantations like this one still dotted the landscape in this area. And while many of them are gone now, this impressive example still stands. Impressive not only in stature and construction but in history due to its unique position in the timeline of our Nation’s history.
Beginning as a slave plantation and transitioning to a tenant based farming system makes this place a unique example from its era. I hope sharing with you here will help us all to interpret more about what life might’ve been like then.
The Nolan Family comes to Georgia
The Nolan Family came to this area of Georgia from South Carolina in the early 1800s and by the 1850s, were prosperous enough to buy this land (and its original home) from the Barton-Swift Family.
During the early years of their ownership, the Nolan Family used enslaved labor to farm this land until 1865. During that time, the plantation had a blacksmith’s shop and a cotton gin.
The Sharecropping Era
The changes that must’ve been felt during this era are hard to understand nowadays but we can at least agree that things would shift drastically for some over the following years. And surely, Nolan Plantation wasn’t exempt from the changes that came with such a monumental shift but in many ways, things stayed much the same here too.
After the end of slave labor came to the South, many of the freedmen from this plantation stayed on to work as tenant farmers, signing contracts that kept them tied here. The Sharecropping Era had begun and just as many others did, a commissary and tenant homes were built here to accommodate the needs of the nearly 2,000 acre plantation.
The Nolan Crossroads store (pictured above), was likely a large part of life here on the plantation as workers would use their credits from farming to buy goods here, creating their own micro-economies. Many of the tenant farm houses from the era still stand on the property today.
Sharecropping Comes to an End
The family prospered here until the boll weevil hit cotton hard across the South in the 1920s.
With their main crop no longer viable, things were undoubtedly difficult to keep running here but the Nolan Family continued to farm this land with peaches as their main crop until the 1970s. The 3,724 square foot main house (built c. 1906) has been empty since that time.
In 2005-06, the home was used to film scenes for a television show so some effort was made to clean it up but by 2007, the windows had been boarded up to protect her from vandals and the elements.
The Abandoned Nolan Plantation Today
Despite these protective measures, the home has been looted of many of its original fixtures and is marked up with graffiti and destruction on the interior walls.
In 2015, the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is presently on the 2020 Georgia Places in Peril list with hopes that something can be done to save her this year.