Our Mission and History
The mission of the Griffin-Spalding Historical Society is to preserve and share the history of Griffin and Spalding County, and to promote the preservation and use of their historic places.
The Griffin-Spalding Historical Society, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, was founded as the Griffin Historical and Preservation Society in 1969 by Seaton Grantland Barnes, John Henry “Jake” Cheatham, Jr., and John Hunter Goddard, Jr. They envisioned an organization which would acquaint local residents with the history of the City of Griffin and Spalding County and inspire the community of the need for and desirability of preserving local historical and interesting residences, places, and sites which were still in existence.
The first headquarters of the Griffin-Spalding Historical Society was located in the Lewis Mills House at 406 North Hill Street. The Greek Revival house, built c. 1852 by the Reverend Obediah Gibson, was bought by William Hammond and his Mother, Mrs. Emily Lewis in 1853. During the Civil War it served as a Confederate Hospital. John and Lavonia Mills owned the home from 1901 to 1936. When the Society bought it in 1970 for $25,000 had been divided into four apartments and was in complete disrepair. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and has been the law offices of Galloway & Lyndell, LLP since 2002.
In August 1987 the Society moved its headquarters to the Bailey Tebault House at 633 Meriwether Street. David Jackson Bailey built the house, on 14 acres, near the plank road to High Falls between 1859 and 1862. He was a Butts County attorney and member of the Georgia Legislature. He had also served in the US Congress in 1850. The Greek Revival home is considered an exceptionally fine example of this style and its curving staircase unusual for a home of the time. Reportedly construction was delayed in part by the confiscation of millwork en route from Philadelphia during the Union blockade. A family story recounts that Mr. Bailey’s extensive library was scattered from Griffin to Jackson by Federal troops. The first commercial phone call in the City was made by the central telephone office to Col. Bailey who was its manager on May 1, 1889.
Mr. Bailey’s wife, Susan, lived in the home until her death in 1897, six months after her husband’s. Their eldest child, Sallie Bailey Tebault, who lived in New Orleans, inherited it. On September 6, 1903, the home opened as Griffin’s first hospital and first school for nurses. The home passed to other family members following Sallie Bailey Tebault’s death in 1926 until James Rawls bought it in 1971. He had lived there since 1941; it became a funeral home in the early 1940s; a use that continued until the Society bought it on May 1, 1987. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Much of the interior detailing is intact and original outbuildings and carriage barn remain behind it.
The Mary Smalley Garden at the rear of the home was established by The Garden Club of Griffin in her memory. The Club, founded in 1923, became one of the first clubs in The Garden Club of Georgia when it was established in 1928.