We love to romanticize the past and explore what once was. Uninhabited ruins are calming; they are a place we can create our own story.
Take a trip back in time, imagining these four crumbling remains in all their glory.
Dunaway Gardens (Newnan) Dunaway Gardens was once a large theatrical training ground for producers, directors and performers. This garden is the South's largest natural rock and floral garden, built by the husband of Hetty Jane Dunaway (Sewell.) It saw the likes of Walt Disney and other famous figures. Sarah Ophelia Colley lived here as a director for several years, known for her character Minnie Pearl.
After Ms. Dunaway passed in the early 60s, the gardens fell into disrepair. In 2000 the gardens were purchased by a private owner and restored through a painstaking process. It opened to the public in 2003 and sits on the National Registrar of Historic Places. While regularly open for private events, it is only opened to the public on certain days of the month. For 2017 the gardens open on March 11. It’s important to always check their calendar before planning a visit. Also, the gardens are usually closed to the public in June, July and August so plants can get some R&R. Private events can still be booked during those months.
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Sope Creek Park (Marietta) At Paper Mill Road and Sope Creek you'll find grand remains of an old manufacturing complex. Until 1940 a series of plants utilized the water power of Sope Creek, including a paper mill, a twine plant, a flour mill and a hydroelectric power plant. The ruins at this park are those of a long forgotten paper mill, incorporated in 1855 and destroyed by Union troops during the Civil War. The ruins are what remain of the rebuilt mill.
Barnsley Resort (Adairsville) Barnsley Resort nurtures visitors with cottages, a spa and myriad outdoor activities, but it is also home to a tragic love story capstoned with gorgeous ruins. According to Clent Coker, the resort historian, Godfrey Barnsley built the original manor in the 1840s for his life's love, Julia. He nestled it within 4,000 acres of gardens, and modeled the grounds after the renowned architect Andrew Jackson Downing. Julia passed before the estate was completed, and it suffered greatly over time, from Civil War pillages to acts of Mother Nature. Today overnight guests and day-visitors can tour the handsome ruins, and it makes a lovely backdrop for romantic weddings.
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Historic Banning Mills (Whitesburg) Guests of Historic Banning Mills are encouraged to explore the property, including the hiking path along Snake Creek. From the trail hikers see ruins from the 1800s with walls towering well over 8 feet. The stones appear haphazardly constructed, but they've stood the test of time. Continue the path, which crosses gigantic stones on the actual water raceway used by the mills.
The mills were textile and paper producers. Hidden within Snake Creek, they were not found by Union soldiers until well after the machinery was safely sent to South Carolina. Considered 'non-working' without the machines, the mills were salvaged and acquired by two entrepreneurs just after the war. These men helped the small town of Banning thrive, with five mills a mile apart along Snake Creek. From that effort, Banning was one of first towns in Georgia to produce its own electricity – well before Atlanta.
Looking for more ruins? Try the hydroelectric tower at Lullwater Park, the old mill at Vickery Creek or the ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park, made famous by The Hunger Games.
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