SHPO visits the Hurt-Rives Plantation

Members of SHPO pose outside the main house of the Hurt-Rives Plantation near Sparta, GA

On Sunday, September 17, members of the Student Historic Preservation Organization visited the Hurt-Rives Plantation near Sparta, GA.  This National Register listed site is currently owned by  Bob and Susan Woodall who run Fort Creek Farms from the property selling sustainably raised grass fed beef, pastured chicken, free range eggs, and pet goats. Second year MHP student and former Fort Creek Farms employee Chris Jackson led a tour around the property including visits to the main house, several slave cabins, the cotton gin, the family cemetery, and other outbuildings.

Chris interpreted the site beginning with the earliest occupation of the land which dates to the homesteading days of William Hurt I around 1785.  Several of the many buildings on the property including the 20’x20′ log cabin, the original 4-room raised cottage home, and one of the smoke houses date to the 18th century.  In the 1840s, George Rives purchased the farm from William Hurt II and gave it to his son George Shackelford Rives. In the 1850s, George S. Rives remodeled the house adding a new chimney, windows, doors, and a basement built of large granite rocks. In the 1870s, George S. Rives added the east wing to the home. George S. Rives also built most of the outbuildings that remain. Chris told the group that a place like the Hurt-Rives plantation “is quite rare because it was one of the few southern plantations that continued to thrive after the Civil War and during reconstruction.”

For SHPO member Pearl Howell, her favorite part of the trip was “seeing the countryside from a 19th century perspective, and just getting outside in a rural landscape.”  She thought that “preserving a place like this farm is important because it allows us to remember that people lived differently, and makes those lives tangible and important. It’s easy to think that everyone has lived the same life, but the reality is very different, and places like this serve as a very real, immediate reminder.”  SHPO member Maria Rachal also enjoyed the opportunity to see an intact plantation landscape.  For her what made the trip special was that “the farm is still operational and the house continues to be inhabited. Not only that, but many of the outbuildings are still in place and are also preserved with the same amount of care as the main house.”

To learn more about preservation efforts at the Hurt-Rives Plantation and check out the farming operations at Fort Creek Farms, click here.