When you arrive in Atlanta, Georgia you may think you’re in the South but if you drive 3 ½ hours out I-20 through Augusta or down I-16 to Statesboro, land your private jet twelve miles away or float the beautiful Ogeechee River to a nice boat ramp on the Bulloch County side, you can cross over near the name-sake rock outcroppings in the river to Historic Rocky Ford on the Screven County side which was first settled in 1791. Then you are really in the true South with barbeque butts, beer, ball, fried chicken, cotton fields, skinny dippin’ and “How y’all doin’?”.
The Town of Rocky Ford survived General Sherman and the boll weevil. Back in the 1880’s the Rocky Ford Brick Works shipped out 2.5 million bricks by rail each year from this point of commerce just fifty miles to the Port of Savannah. Thus the historic heart of the town is built from these special bricks.
In 1991 a sixth-generation native returned to find the “Block” needing some attention. With a structural engineer and a team they rewired, installed new engineered sewage lift systems, installed fifty-year structural roofs, scraped and repainted the original pressed-metal ceilings and uncovered the beauty of the 1880’s craftsmen and builders who left their, now antique, wooden stick measures in conspicuous places.
The United States Post Office was still leasing the corner facility so they moved on next door to the original Rocky Ford Café with evidence of fish frying on a wooden stove still obvious by the stove pipe. The restaurant was upgraded with wainscoting, stainless steel sink, ice machine, ceiling fans and white linen.
The old grocery store on the opposite corner which had served many as a mercantile and pharmacy was again restored to the original beauty saving the pressed-metal ceilings and revealing the marvel of the Carnegie steel beams which clear-span forty feet. To add flare and purpose a 300 sf steel stage was erected with a PA system and sound booth for live concerts. From the ruins of a local plantation house 10” wide hardwood planks were milled and turned into a sixteen foot bar with an antique cash register sitting in a place of prominence. Two bathrooms, dressing room and storage rooms, ceiling fans, seating for 250, a juke box and a dance floor liven up 3,000 sf for parties, family fun and gatherings. Ceiling fans move the air while folks enjoy sitting in history and wondering if the tales are true about the Civil War tunnel under the tracks of the Norfolk Southern Railroad that cuts through the heart of the town.
The commerce of the day in 1906 dictated a financial institution be realized. It was! The Bank of Rocky Ford opened for business July 6, 1906. It was closed in the depression of 1932 but stepping inside you are instantly back in history again. The team saved the original hexagon tile floor, laid in 1906, the wainscoting is the real thing, so is the pressed-metal ornamental ceiling, the “Director’s Room” door and the magnificent Mosler walk-in, fireproof safe with gold embossed lettering. The original steel bars continue to protect and guard the huge rear window and back door out through the courtyard.
Next door is the gorgeous two-story brick building which spans the entire city block with entrances on Railroad St. and Post Office St. All was preserved including the original heart pine floors and beadboard ceilings untouched by paint. The 14 floor-to-ceiling windows were replicated exactly as they were in the 1880’s. A stunning open kitchen with all the modern touches was designed around the old brick chimney with an 1890’s counter from the mercantile serving as the island with gas Jen-Air down-draft range. No walls will ever obstruct this huge open interior and the view of the historic town and passing trains. The large Jacuzzi tub and 24k gold embossed tile adorns the master suite while the fire stove enhances the romanticism of this massive residence featured on HGTV. The staircase is built of exotic Ipe wood which descends to the first floor with office, laundry room, sitting room with fireplace and guest accommodations. The evidence of history is all around you when entering conveniently the three-car garage through one door while still in the huge 7,000 sf space.
Through the ground-level double doors evenings are spent in the courtyard or the nearly one-half acre yard with six-feet-high, fifty-year compound fencing with three drive-through gates.
The original historic builders, having great common sense, insured that each commercial space is separated with a five-hour, six-brick-thick firewall extending above the roof line. Old Glory still flies at the US Post Office, still leased.
This city block is so extraordinary the Georgia Film Commission has it listed on their site as a potential movie set!
When you’re in the 12,000 sf “Block” you’re in the True South!

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