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The black walnut-tree lined pathway to the front of the farmhouse.
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The Indian Mound across the street from Hardman Farm is one of the most photographed places in the State of Georgia.
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The grandeur of the Italianate farmhouse.
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Most of the furnishings are original to the home, providing visitors with a rare glimpse of the early 20th century South.
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Ornate plaster accents are found throughout the first floor.
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An old Singer sewing machine.
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The first two kitchens on the property burned; this is what remains of the third in one of the outbuildings. They had a coal burning stove and a nutmeg grinder can be seen, a fashionable device which came from Europe.
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Hardman Farm was a fully working dairy farm.
I couldn’t have been more than eight-years-old when my parents and I starting making trips north into the North Georgia mountains toward our mountain property in Hiawassee. The most exciting part of the journey was going through the magical Alpine village of Helen. I was in awe. Odd shaped buildings with dangerous points. German music wafting through the air. People covering every sidewalk, roaming and eating their sugar-frosted funnel cakes.
As usual, we would pass on through – much to my dismay. This was my highlight, but there were two other spots along the route always made me press my face against the car window: The Old Sautee Store and the big house with the red roof.
This massive house sat at the corner where we made our right turn toward Helen. Over the years, the landscape never changed. Never any people or cars there, just a solitary place. And across the road, there was a mound with a fancy top, which just added to the mystery and the imagination of an eight-year-old.
Today, the landscape still remains the same, but now, passersby can do more than simply admire. As of 2015, the big house with the red roof is open to the public. Built in 1869 by Colonel James Nichols, over the years, it has had three owners, the last being governor of Georgia Lamartine Hardman. In the late 1990s, Hardman’s remaining family donated the acreage and structures to the State of Georgia as long as the promise to restore and preserve was honored.
Officially a state park, visitors can now satisfy curiosities that have grown over the years. For this eight-year-old girl turned fifty-six-year-old woman, the visit was worth the wait.
Judy and Len Garrison are at home in Farmington, Georgia, just on the outskirts of Dawg country - better known as Athens. Len, an IT manager and photographer, and Judy, an editor, author and travel writer, invite you to travel along with them as they explore the best of the South. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit their website at Seeing Southern, and follow them on Twitter at @judyhgarrison, @seeing_southern, LIKE them on Facebook and on Instagram.