by Denise Weimer
This month, I continue my exploration of historic sites of Gwinnett County, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. One of the earliest remaining homes of the county is the Elisha Winn House, located near Dacula. The plantation-plain home was built in 1812 in the headright lands of Jackson County, six years before Gwinnett was created. During that period, Elisha Winn was a justice of inferior court in Jackson County. He purchased the 7,300-acre tract on the Appalachee River, and much of the planning for the new county occurred in the Winn home. Inferior court and county elections were held in the parlor, and the first five judges of inferior court were commissioned. Winn succeeded the current judge in 1820 and went on to become the state senator from Gwinnett in 1826 and state representative in the 1830s. Early sessions of superior court (1819-22) were held in the barn, and the first jail was built on site.
Elisha and his wife, Judith, had thirteen children. Their daughter Philadelphia married in the house (at age thirteen!) to a store owner, William Maltbie, who later helped found the nearby town of Lawrenceville, where he served as postmaster, then clerk and justice of inferior court. The Winn family moved to Lawrenceville about 1824 for better schools, building The Cedars west of town.
The Winn house is constructed of heart pine in two-over-two room design with a gable roof and a chimney at each end. The log kitchen was removed in the 1860s when the Sims family, subsequent owners, added a rear wing for their caretaker. An itinerant painter transformed the plain pine interior woodwork to resemble mahogany doors, burled walnut trim, and stone mantels. Much of the furniture was plantation-plain in style, bereft of carving, with sparse geometric trim. Furniture that was painted would have been mostly in earthy colors, such as you see in the Chief Vann House (https://www.hhhistory.com/2019/03/the-chief-vann-house.html).
The Gwinnett County Historical Society purchased the original Winn home and three acres in 1978, then added over sixteen acres in 1994. Several buildings were also donated, including barns, a jail, a schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, a cotton house, and an outhouse. The historical society hosts a living history fair every October (http://gwinnetths.org/winnhouse.html). When I visited the property to take photos, I found a maze of orange construction tape, as the county is adding sidewalks and a stage to better host events. Here’s hoping I can attend in the future and bring my historical books!
|The 1875 Walnut Grove School served seven grades|