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Wheat House at Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm
Wheat House at Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm Photo: Burke Walker

Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm

An outdoor agricultural museum, the Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm functions as an educational and interpretive center in northeast Georgia. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the farm is unique for its collection of over 20 intact historic buildings in their original location.

Dating from ca. 1900-1920, the buildings served the agricultural needs of the Shields-Ethridge family and surrounding farms, functioning as a small industry in the cultivation of corn, wheat, and other crops. With very few changes, these buildings can be viewed today, including a schoolhouse called the "Bachelor's Academy," teacher's residence, grist mill, hammer mill, blacksmith shop, carpenter's shop, cottonseed warehouse, cotton gin, main house, tenant house, and others. The grist mill and a fully stocked commissary appear just as they did in the early 1900's. The farm's original equipment and machinery can also be viewed, including a restored Titan Ten engine, circa 1913, 3 Lummus gins, hydraulic balers, generators, generator, hay rakes, and wagon scales.

The farm has remained in the same family since its purchase ca. 1802. During the Civil War, the farm produced wheat, corn, oats, cured fodder, cotton and feed. In 1865, at the end of the Civil War, the freed slaves left the farm, but shortly thereafter requested to return and live on the farm. They returned under a signed agreement as free people. The main house was built in 1866 with the money from the sale of two bales of cotton. By 1880, the farm tilled over 100 acres of land, making it one of the largest farms in the area.

In 1994, Joyce Ethridge and her daughters Susan E. Chaisson and Ann E. Lacey gave 150 acres of the farm to the Shields-Ethridge Farm Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the farm as an agricultural museum. The Foundation protects the farm complex and provides the public with an educational and interpretive facility that accurately tells of Georgia's rich agricultural history. Today the museum hosts regular seminars and tours, annual events, educational outings for area school children, and is open to the public.

In 1994, the Shields-Ethridge farm received a Georgia Centennial Heritage Farm award from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources that recognizes farms of exceptional historical value.

In 1996, Mrs. Ethridge received the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Stewardship Award for Long Term Preservation of Historic Properties. In 1999, the farm received a Silver Level Recognition Environmental Award from the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce and the Boy Scouts of America.

Documentation includes a text report and a brochure with 3 photographs and map.

Originally submitted by: John Linder, Representative (11th District).



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