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The Palmer House
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- 1st Floor Bath
- 1st Floor Bedroom
- Dining room
- Gourmet Kitchen
- Laundry Room
- Living room
- Built-in Bookcases
- Wood floors
- 4 Bedrooms/4.5 Baths
- Additional Lot Available
- Antique Heart Pine Floors
- Great Room
- One-Car Carport
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History of the Palmer House
History of the Palmer House:
In the years surrounding Darien's catastrophic Civil War loss, the town relied on the stability of its timber industry for economic success. Following the attack on Darien, in which the town was raided and summarily burned on June 11, 1863 by Union troops on route from neighboring St. Simons, its residents embraced reconstruction through the profitable aid of their local sawmills.
Due to the combination of an abundance of timber and the town's advantageous coastal position, the mills in and around Darien worked steadily in the years preceding the war. However, during the 1863 attack, many of the vulnerable sawmills were claimed by fire. One such casualty was the timber mill operated by Thomas Hilton, Sr. on Cat Head Creek.
During the early 1850s, Hilton and his wife, Jane Lachlison Hilton, had left their native England to pursue prospects in Darien. By the mid-1860s, Hilton was only one of many in the lumbering industry struggling to rebuild. It was during this time that the Hilton family would become a major force in the post-war rebirth. This came with the creation of the lumbering firm Hiltons & Foster. The partners in this venture were Hilton's sons, Thomas Hilton, Jr. and Joseph Hilton, and their cousin James L. Foster.
During the life of their partnership, the men would operate a number of sawmills including the Upper Mill on Cat Head Creek. In the initial years of the Hiltons & Foster venture, Thomas Hilton, Jr. purchased two contiguous parcels of land on the western side of Darien. The properties, identified on McIntosh County deeds as Lots 104 and 105, were located on the southeastern portion of Block 2 at the corner of Scriven and First Streets. It is believed that, directly after purchasing the land, Hilton utilized the lots to build a modest two-story dwelling house and rear cookhouse.
Due to his successful affiliation with the timber industry, Hilton had both the financial means and accessibility to lumber required, at the time, for immediate post-war construction. However, by the late 1860s, many members of Hilton's family had selected The Ridge, a budding community located about three miles outside of Darien, as their location of residence. It was, therefore, not long after constructing a home in Darien that Thomas Hilton, Jr. also decided to move to The Ridge. Consequently, on May 10, 1868, Hilton sold his Darien property to Mrs. Edytha (nee Editha) Wilcox.
Mrs. Edytha Wright Wilcox was the sole child of William W. and Emma Carpenter Churchill. Mr. Churchill, a Darien merchant, was the partner of Edytha's husband, Mx. William A. Wilcox, in the prominent business of Wilcox & Churchill. In addition to their partnership in business, the two families were neighbors. Prior to Mrs. Wilcox's property acquisition, the Churchills had entered into a residential lease, on January 1, 1867, with the McIntosh County Academy Their dwelling house, which was located on lot 103, was directly adjacent to the then Hilton property.
As the families had each secured their respective dwelling houses by the early 1870s, the firm of Wilcox & Churchill began to buy a significant amount of available neighboring land. Between the years of 1870 and 1871, the partners made one of their more sizable purchases. This property, identified as Lots 106, 107, 108 and 109, was located on First street, in the southern half of Block 3, between Scriven and Walton streets. Just east of the Wilcox dwelling house, this land was to be the site of the couple's future residence. Rising two stories in height with a projecting one-story eastern extension, the new building would be slightly grander in its Victorian style than their previous home. Following the acquisition of the fourth parcel, it is believed that construction of the dwelling house was completed by the final months of 1871.
Over the course of the past few years, the partnership of Wilcox & Churchill had steadily increased their real-estate holdings by purchasing a substantial number of lots surrounding First and Broad Streets. On one of these larger corner parcels, the men had erected a building in which to operate their mercantile store. In addition to offering patrons a vast selection of dry goods, medicines and hardware, Wilcox & Churchill advertised furnished rooms with board. With the growth of the business in later years, several rooms were added above the store. However, during the early 1870’s, interested patrons were directed to the Wilcox boardinghouse.
During the time the new home was being constructed, the partners were planning the future expansion of the current Wilcox house. Following the completion of the larger residence on First street, the firm of Wilcox & Churchill planned to enlarge the old "Hilton" dwelling house and open the converted building to the public as a boardinghouse. In its earliest years, it is believed that the boardinghouse was privately managed by the Wilcox and Churchill families With the death of W.W. Churchill on November 30, 1888, however, the firm of Wilcox & Churchill was formally dissolved and the partnership's joint property divided. By the late 1.880s, as William Wilcox had entered into a new business partnership, it is believed that the couple sought assistance in the daily operations of their boardinghouse. Although the exact date of her arrival is unknown, by the year 1890 the lodging facility was being managed by a local widow, Mrs. Julia ED. Palmer.
In 1841, Mrs. Julia F.D. Palmer was born. Julia Fraysee to Mr. and Mrs. John Fraysee of Walterboro, South Carolina. Following her marriage to a Georgia planter, the young bride moved to her husband's home in McIntosh County. Her husband, Edward W. DeLegal, Jr., was born to Edward and Jane DeLegal (nee Delegal, DeLeGal), on November 24, 1811, at the family's Delta Plantation home. In the years following their marriage, the couple continued to work their plantation while raising a sizable family. With the acquisition of neighboring Julianton Plantation, these years for the DeLegal family were nothing less than prosperous. However, a period of significant change would soon ensue. On May 20, 1876, the family suffered the devastating loss of Colonel Edward W. DeLegal, Jr., their patriarch. With the death of their father, the management of the Harris Neck properties became the responsibility of the DeLegal sons. Thus, in the succeeding years, the widowed Mrs. Julia F. DeLegal and her children remained at Delta plantation.
After nearly eight years, Mrs. DeLegal entered into her second marriage. On July 7, 1884, she wed Dr. Johnson Sheredan Palmer. A native of Loudon County in Virginia, Dr. Palmer came to Darien around the time of the Civil War. During the course of their marriage, the couple resided on Harris Neck until Dr. Palmer's death, only three years later, on July 26, 1887. Although the newly widowed Mrs. Palmer initially remained on Harris Neck, by the end of the 1880s she had moved, with her remaining children, into Darien. This decision was likely motivated by the family's present financial situation. As such, Mrs. Palmer accepted a live-in position in which she would manage the daily responsibilities of the Wilcox boardinghouse.
By 1890, the building was entering its grandest period in history. Under the watchful guidance of Mrs. Palmer, what would become the oldest and most popular boarding house in Darien. During these years, the building would be referred to by locals and boarders alike as the Palmer House.
During the late 19th century, with Darien's lumber industry thriving, local timber was being transported not only by water, but by rail. By January of 1895, years of anticipation were finally fulfilled as direct passenger service reached the bustling town on the tracks of the Darien & Western railroad. Soon after the introduction of this rail transportation, the previously quiet town found itself playing host to a variety of travelers from across the United States. It was during the railroad's considerably brief period of operation that the hotel industry began to flourish in Darien. To date, local history maintains that, during this time, the most prominent lodging facility was unquestionably the Palmer House.
Through these years, guests at Mrs. Palmer's ranged from visiting families and newlyweds to traveling salesmen. Due to such a steady influx of visitors, rooms at the boardinghouse seemed to perpetually remain occupied. Consequently, with tourism rising to its peak, there became a growing need to increase the number of rooms at the Palmer House. Therefore, during the early 1900s, a single room was constructed to the north of the rear extension. Following the addition of this outbuilding, the principle building incurred several physical changes.
Between the years of 1913 and 1914, interior plumbing and electric lighting became available to the residents of Darien. Shortly after that time, both modern conveniences were introduced into the active boardinghouse. As such, the ceilings of each room were fitted with single light fixtures, and three bathrooms were added. In respect to the building's floor plan, however, facilities were required for lodgers throughout the boardinghouse on both the first and second floors. Therefore, due to interior space restrictions, the creation of two new bathrooms was only possible through the construction of modest northern additions. With exception of the porte-cochere, these minor additions symbolized the end of the building's physical transformation. However, during the time of their creation, a period of internal change was just beginning.
In the early 1900s, an aging Mrs. Edythe Wilcox, the sole surviving heir of the Wilcox & Churchill partnership, departed Darien for Savannah, Georgia to seek medical attention. By 1911, due to her increasing failing health, she began to slowly divest herself of the family's Darien property. On. April 18, 1911, for the sum of $1,500.00, Mrs. Wilcox sold the Palmer House to the town physician, Dr. P.S. Clark, and his associates Messrs, Robert J. Downey and E.G. Cain. Soon after acquiring their new property, the owners presented a plan in The Darien Gazette to improve the building that included the future construction of additional rooms.
Prior to the full-implementation of their project, however, the partners sold the property just two months later, on June 7, 1911, to Mr. Augustus Moultrie Quarterman. A son-in-law of Mrs. Palmer, it was during the late 1880s that A.M. Quarterman, a native of Liberty County, wed the young Julia Florence DeLegal. Following their marriage, the couple took permanent residence in the neighboring county, and had two children, Edward and Florence. Prior to the sale of the property to Dr. Clark, the Quartermans moved to Darien in order to assist the aging Mrs. Palmer with her responsibilities at the boarding house. It was at this time that Mr. Quarterman formally assumed the role of manager at the Palmer House. Around this same time, the name of the building was changed to the Palmer Hotel (nee Hotel Palmer).
Following his purchase of the property, Mr. Quarterman served as proprietor of the boardinghouse. However, only three months later, he was claimed by an early death on September 6, 1911. Over the course of the next seven years, the widowed Mrs. Julia Florence Quarterman assumed her late-husband's responsibilities. With her death, on January 21, 1918, the ownership of the Palmer Hotel was passed to the two Quarterman children.
As neither of the Quarterman children held residency in Darien, Mrs. Palmer was assisted during the following years by the Woodward (nee Woodard) family. Years earlier, Mrs. Palmer's daughter Jane DeLegal had married a man by the name of Jessie Jackson Woodward. After their marriage, the couple had remained in Darien where they had raised a sizable family. After the death of Mrs. Quarterman, the Woodward family moved in with Mrs. Palmer at the boardinghouse. Although he was affiliated with the local shipping industry, J.J. Woodward assumed management of the Palmer Hotel by 1925, after seven absentee years, Edward and Florence Quarterman approached their cousin J.J. Woodward, Jr. regarding their Darien property. On December 3, 1925, an agreement was reached whereby, in exchange for the sum of $1,000.00, Mr. Jackson J. Woodward, Jr. purchased the Palmer Hotel. Although it was his son who held ownership, J.J. Woodward continued to operate the boardinghouse in the years after its sale.
On the heels of World War I, the United States and the City of Darien found themselves grappling with a foreign strain of influenza that, as a nationwide epidemic, had indiscriminately crippled the nation's population. By the I920s, the ever-present need for a statewide public health system was beginning to be addressed by health officials in Georgia. The creator and initiator of such a system was Dr. M.E. Winchester, director of the division of county health work for Georgia's state board of health. On October 28, 1930, Dr. Winchester formally outlined his plan to divide the state's counties into sixty health districts. At the time of his proposal, statistics revealed that only fifty percent of the state's population had any form of health protection. With all the counties being assigned to more manageable districts, Winchester argued that the quality of Georgia's health standards would-be dramatically improved. Further, the state would be afforded the ability to create basic health work facilities through which qualified medical personnel would be provided across Georgia. The proposal was eagerly considered and accepted by Dr. T.F. Abercrombie, commissioner of health for Georgia's state board of health.
With the implementation of his plan, Dr. Winchester was assigned to Georgia's Glynn County. There he served as the chairman of the county health board and director of the health district program which covered Glynn, McIntosh and Camden counties. By 1934, Dr. Winchester's successful health unit was reportedly the largest ever to be established in the state. As required by the health district plan, McIntosh County bad been supplied with a local health officer and medical personnel. Following its creation, the McIntosh County Board of Health was operated in. Darien's new health office. The one-story brick building was located one street north of the old city jail. Throughout the year, regular clinics were held at the Darien health office. In facilitating the clinics, local health office personnel were assisted by nurses from Dr. Winchester's Glynn County staff. The clinics focused primarily on providing testing and treatment for communicable and infectious diseases. However, secondary services did exist for pre-natal and early childhood care. Target diseases of the clinics included malaria, influenza, tuberculosis, typhoid, diphtheria and all venereal diseases. During their frequent extended visits, the Glynn County nurses required lodging facilities in Darien. According to Alice Woodward, the members of the health staff were her family's regular guests at the Palmer Hotel.
As the nurses continued their visits to Darien well into the 1930s, another period of change was beginning at the Palmer Hotel. On May 22, 1936, the family suffered the devastating loss of their provider and patriarch, Jessie Jackson Woodward. In the initial years after his death, Mrs. Jane Woodward continued to operate the boardinghouse with the help of her two daughters Isabelle and Alice. Two years later, the family was again stricken by tragedy. On July 8, 1938, at the age of 97, Mrs. Julia F.D. Palmer died at the home of her daughter Mrs. Catherine DeLegal King in Miami, Florida.
Due to the absence of credible documentation, it is estimated that by the early 1940s the Woodward women decided to formally close the Palmer Hotel. After approximately sixty-nine years of public use, the building was finally reverted into a private residence. In the early 1940s, the widowed Mrs. Woodward enjoyed the company of her daughters, and the women frequently entertained J.J. Woodward, Jr. as well as other family members visiting from out-of-town. Further, the Woodwards occasionally found themselves hosting local guests. At that time, Mrs. Woodward's daughter Jane Woodward Atwood and her husband, Mr. Henry Grantland (H.G.) Atwood, lived briefly at the house during the final days of Mr. Atwood's fatal illness. Although the couple had left the comfort of their neighboring residence at Cedar Point for the convenience of receiving medical attention in Darien, Mr. Atwood succumbed to his sickness, merely days later, on October 13, 1942. After their third stunning loss, it would not be until January 13, 1944 that the family would finally find cause to celebrate.
The occasion was the marriage of Miss Isabelle Woodward to Mr. John Bamiak. However, with Isabelle wed and living in Atlanta, the responsibility of caring for Mrs. Jane Woodward had swiftly fallen upon the family's youngest daughter, Alice. On April 18, 1900, Mr. and Mrs. Jessie Jackson Woodward were blessed by the birth of their youngest child whom they named Alice Vetal Woodward. Over the course of her life, with the exception of a handful of short excursions, Alice Woodward never left her family's home in Darien. Following the wedding of her sister Isabelle, Alice's primary role was that of caregiver to her widowed mother. It was therefore that, on May 30, 1944, Jane DeLegal Woodward officially relinquished her power-of-attorney to Alice, her remaining unmarried daughter. Following this legal transaction, the two women continued to live together in the Woodward house. During this time, J.J. Woodward, Jr. still retained sole ownership rights to the Darien property. Like many of his Georgia relatives, the young Mr. Woodward had chosen to leave his family and the boardinghouse to pursue a life in Florida. However, due to this decision and in respect to the needs of his remaining Darien family, J.J. Woodward finally sold the house to his sister Alice on May 31, 1968.
Around this same time, Mrs. Woodward permanently left Darien for Jacksonville, Florida where the family placed her under hospital care. It was there, at the age of 105, that she would pass away on December 5, 1973. Following her mother's death, Alice Woodward lived alone in the Woodward house. Unlike her mother, the aging spinster spent those years without the daily care of a husband or children. By July of 1987, no longer able to care for herself, she relinquished her power-of-attorney to Isabelle W. Barniak. Just one year after this transaction, on October 6, 1988, Mrs. Barniak purchased the Woodward house. Just three years later, Alice Vetal Woodward passed away on February 22, 1991. Although a permanent resident of Florida, Ms. Barniak elected to retain ownership of her family's Darien home for nearly ten more years.
It was not until March 4, 1999 that, following what had become eighty-eight years of private ownership by Mrs. Palmer's family, the Palmer Hotel/Woodward House would be sold to The City of Darien.
Archived in August, 2012
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