Pebble Hill Plantation has been called a Georgia Belle. This stately architectural beauty stands proudly amid the magnolias and long leaf pines of southwest Georgia. Thomas Jefferson Johnson, who authored the bill to create Thomas County, established the property as a cotton plantation in 1825. A prosperous agricultural site throughout the antebellum period, it survived the difficult years of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Pebble Hill’s modern history began in the late 1800s when Thomasville was enjoying popularity as a winter resort community. Industrialist Howard Melville Hanna purchased Pebble Hill in 1896, and soon gave the property to his daughter, Kate Hanna Ireland (later Harvey). Kate expanded the Pebble Hill acreage and buildings between the years of 1901 and 1936. When the Main House burned in 1934, she directed construction of the present Main House, which was completed in early 1936.
Elisabeth “Pansy” Ireland (later Poe), Kate’s only daughter, became Pebble Hill’s mistress when Kate died in 1936. An excellent horsewoman and an accomplished polo player, Pansy amassed great collections of sporting art. Her 33 Audubon lithographs grace the hallways, and numerous other treasures reflect Pansy’s passion for the sporting life.
Pansy died in 1978 after establishing and endowing the Pebble Hill Foundation, which owns and operates Pebble Hill as a museum. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been featured on the cover of Georgia’s official tourism publication, Georgia On My Mind.
In addition to daily tours, Pebble Hill sponsors several special events each year, including the Fall Sampler, an open-air concert, Candlelight Tours and the Pinewoods Bird Festival and Plantation Ball. Numerous private parties and corporate and civic events are regularly held on the grounds.
Pebble Hill Plantation is a remarkable treasure. The grounds cover 3,000 acres, and the Georgian-style Main House has more than 40 rooms. The site has welcomed many notable guests over the years, including United States presidents and British royalty.
Highlights of Some Community Events
Thomasville Antiques Show and Sale For information
Annual Pinewoods Bird Festival For information
Thomasville Annual Rose Show and Festival For information
CNS Television’s Fireworks Show and Festivities – An Evening of Family Fun For information
Boston Mini Marathon Festival For information
Fall Sampler at Pebble Hill Plantation For information
Thomasville Fly-In at the Thomasville Regional Airport For information
Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival at the Thomasville Cultural Center For information
Victorian Christmas For information
Annual Christmas Candlelight Tour For information Pebble Hill Plantation
For information on additional events contact the Thomasville Visitor Center at 229-228-7977 or 866-577-3600 or www.thomasvillega.com.
Fun Facts About Thomasville, Georgia
• Joanne Woodward, Oscar-winning actress and wife of actor Paul Newman made her acting debut on the old East Side School (now the Thomasville Cultural Center).
• Thomasville native Lt. Henry O. Flipper was the first black graduate of West Point in 1877. He is buried in Thomasville in The Old Cemetery next to his mother and father. Today, the Jack Hadley Black History Museum houses more than 2,000 artifacts highlighting both local and national African-American achievers.
• The oldest perimeter road in the U. S. is Pinetree Boulevard. It was established as a “country drive” for visiting Northerners who wintered in Thomasville.
• Several famous and wealthy people are connected to Thomasville– including the Vanderbilts, the Goodyears, the Rockefellers and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
• Jacqueline Kennedy chose to stay on a Thomasville plantation following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November of 1963. Arriving in February 1964, she was the guest of Mrs. John Hay Whitney of Greenwood Plantation for three days, attending mass at the local Catholic Church (now All Saints Episcopal, c. 1881).
• There are 71 plantations in and around Thomas County. It is the largest concentration of its kind in the U.S. The plantations cover some 300,000 acres, and are mostly owned by family descendants.
• William McKinley was introduced to southern Republican leaders in the sunroom in the Hanna-McKinley House (c.1883) during his 1895 bid for the presidency. He returned as president in 1899. Dwight Eisenhower teed up numerous times at the Glen Arven Country Club. Several presidents and vice-presidents have enjoyed hunting on local plantations.
• Thomasville is home to the Big Oak (c.1680), a massive and majestic tree with a limb span of 162 feet. Its age and beauty make it a living treasure of our city’s heritage. The Big Oak is located on the corner of Monroe and Crawford Street.
• Thomasville is one of the first Main Street cities in the state of Georgia. In 1998, Thomasville received the Great American Main Street award.
• Thomasville’s oldest mercantile is Jerger-Johnson Jewelers, established in 1857. Its current location at 130 S. Broad Street was built in 1881, and still contains the original cabinets and old safe.
• The Lapham-Patterson House (c.1885) is a National Historic Landmark. Located in the historic Dawson Street district, the Victorian home, with its creative engineering, has no square rooms or right angles. It is three stories tall, has 19 rooms, 45 doors and was built for the enormous sum of $4,500. Tours are available.
• The Piney Woods Hotel (c.1885) burned in 1906. The only thing left from its massive wooden structure was the old lead pipes.
• The Mitchell House Hotel was another from Thomasville’s Grand Hotel era. It extended a full block on North Broad and catered to the elite of society with lavish parties and dances. Today it offers elegant downtown condominium and loft living.
• WPAX Radio Station (c.1920) is the third oldest station in Georgia and the 20th oldest station in the nation. The original broadcasting range reached as far away as Australia. Franklin D. Roosevelt used one of the station’s sound systems for a campaign speech from Warm Springs, Georgia.
• The State Farmers Market (c.1930) is located at Smith Avenue and Hansell Street, and houses the second largest fresh-produce market in the southeast.
• Thomas County and its neighbors are located in the coastal plains region of Georgia. The soil in the area is some of the most fertile in the world. During the Civil War, it served as the breadbasket of the Confederacy, and is still highly agricultural today.