The Bailey-Tebault House is the current headquarters of the Griffin-Spalding Historical Society, and was built by David Jackson Bailey and his wife, Susan Mary Grantland, daughter of the newspaper editor in Milledgeville, Georgia, which was then the state capital. Mr. Bailey was a Butts County lawyer and a member of the Georgia legislature which, of course, met in Milledgeville.
The Baileys had 11 children, 6 of whom lived to adulthood, and they decided to move to Griffin because it had a reputation for having excellent schools. None were public schools, for the first local public school, Sam Bailey, was not built until 1870.
Construction of the Baileys’ house was begun in 1859 on 14 acres of land outside the developed area of Griffin and north of the Plank Road to Flat Shoals. Completion of the house was delayed because the interior millwork ordered from Philadelphia was confiscated during the Union blockade of the Confederacy; therefore, the house was not finished until 1862. One family story says that Mr. Bailey’s extensive library was scattered from Griffin to Jackson by Federal troops.
The house is a fine example of Greek Revival architecture, with attention given to its detailing and the proportions of its component parts. The curving stairway is unusual for a house of this date. There are projecting plaster crown moldings between the ceiling and walls in the hall. At some point during the house’s history, the fireplaces in the double parlors were closed and the mantels removed. Mr. and Mrs. James S. Murray donated the mantels that are in the parlors today. These mantels came from the Beeks home on North Hill Street. The fine neighborhoods of Griffin in the 19th century were north of the railroad tracks on Hill Street and streets west of Hill and south of the railroad near Poplar and Meriwether. The Griffin Female College stood where the vacant Griffin Ace Hardware building is on West College Street.
Originally, the kitchen was detached from the house, but the two are now joined by a passageway. The servants’ quarters remain in the back yard, as does the tall carriage house with a fireplace so the groom could keep warm.
Some of the Bailey daughters married Confederate officers who were trained in the Griffin camps. Camp Stevens on North 9th Street was the main training center for troops from all over the state.
The Baileys helped organize St. George’s Episcopal Church, and Mrs. Bailey gave the stained glass windows when the present church building was built in 1871. Mrs. Bailey lived until 1897 but was bedridden the last 15 years of her life. Mrs. Bailey’s great-grandson, Grantland Barnes, says his mother remembered that her grandmother, Mrs Bailey, went to the back door every afternoon to call, “Aunt Sophie, it’s five o’clock. Time to come get your dram!” Aunt Sophie was an old servant who lived in one of the little houses in the back yard.
When Mrs. Bailey died, her daughter Sallie Bailey Tebault, who had married in 1866 and moved to New Orleans, inherited the house. It later passed to Sallie’s son, then to his wife, and then to the wife’s niece, staying in the family until 1971 when James Rawls bought the property. Although the Tebaults were in possession of the house for decades, they did not live in the building, and instead it went through various stages of vacancy and division into apartments for renters, finally becoming the Frank S. Pittman Funeral Home around 1940. When Mr. Rawls took over the funeral home in 1971, he named it the Pittman-Rawls Funeral Home.
Around 1909, the house was used as Griffin’s first hospital. Mrs. M. Douglas Hollberg’s mother began her nurse’s training here in 1909. During the years of use as a funeral home, the wall between the parlors was opened so the large room could be used as a chapel. During the renovations made by the historical society in 1989, the arch was reshaped and paneling was installed in the opening. The original opening would have had double doors between the parlors.
One of the Bailey sons was David Jackson Bailey, Jr., father of Seaton Bailey and Nathaniel Bailey (father of Mary Izard of Atlanta). Another son was Seaton Grantland Bailey. Their mother was one of two daughters of Seaton Grantland of Milledgeville. Because the grandfather didn’t want his family name to die out, he asked the grandson who had been named for him to drop the Bailey from his name and become just Seaton Grantland. The young man made the name change on his 21st birthday. He went to Virginia Military Institute, served in the Confederate Army, and commanded the Honor Guard at the burial of Robert E. Lee. In 1879, Seaton built a large house where West Griffin School stands today. For many years his house was the original West Griffin School. It was torn down in 1944 so the present building could be built.
Ironically, after old Mr. Grantland’s efforts to see that his name would be carried on, his grandson, Captain Grantland, had only one daughter, Mrs. H.W. Barnes. Mrs. Barnes was the mother of Seaton Grantland Barnes and Leila Cheatham, so the surname did not survive him.
Captain Seaton Grantland built the dam on the Towaliga River at High Falls to convert that water power into electricity to run the mills in Griffin, which were operated by steam engines. The dam and the remains of the three-story hydro-electric plant may still be seen at High Falls. This was a terrific innovation – most people, including experts like Edison himself, thought it would be impossible to carry electricity so far. When the power line from High Falls to Griffin was completed in 1904, it was the longest in the world at slightly over 14 miles. The hydro-electric plant was eventually bought by Georgia Power Company and was operated until 1954. The grist mill that Captain Grantland built on Broadway just across the railroad tracks was the first electrically powered mill in the world. Grist mills no longer had to stand on riverbanks!
The location of the Bailey-Tebault house was near the old Plank Road leading to Flat Shoals (now called Meriwether Street). In 1847 prominent businessmen in Griffin organized the Griffin and West Point Plank Company, which was to build a road between the two towns and eventually connect them to New Orleans. The name New Orleans Street remains on the stretch of road behind Special Occasions, and Meriwether Street continues to follow its path. Griffinites chose to build this road in preference to the second railroad, which would have gone north to Atlanta. The Plank Road was finished to Flat Shoals, but its operation was not successful very long. For a number of years the road from Griffin to Greenville in Meriwether County was called the Plank Road. In 1849, 49,000 bales of cotton were brought into Griffin, most of it by wagon from the area west of Griffin from as far away as Alabama, and the majority of the cotton traveled over Plank Road.
The stage line over the same route, The New York and New Orleans Mail Line, was one of the best mail routes in the country. The stagecoach carried an average of ten passengers each way daily, and the contract for carrying the mail was $6,000.00 per year. With such a grand stage line, who wanted a second railroad? Besides, residents thought the noisy trains might disturb their sleep. So the decision was made for the railroad to by-pass Griffin and instead stop in Marthasville, which became Atlanta, the important rail center that General Griffin had envisioned for his town when he founded it in 1840.