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  • Writer's pictureHistoric Columbus

Ghosts of Grandeur: Glen Lora

SOURCES: Ghosts of Grandeur: Georgia’s Lost Antebellum Homes and Plantations by Michael W. Kitchens, 2012. Columbus on the Chattahoochee by Etta Blanchard Worsley, 1951. Vanishing Georgia, photographs from the Vanishing Georgia Collection, Georgia Department of Archives and History, 1982.


Proceeding westerly towards the turn onto Stagecoach Road (Talbotton Road), touching the area that would later be called "Rose Hill," one came to beautiful Glen Lora, one of the earliest homes in Columbus. It was built in 1834 in the Federal style by Randall Jones. Jones and his wife, Anne Catherine Boykin Jones, the daughter of Dr. Samuel Boykin, lived in the home for twenty-three years.

Image courtesy of Columbus State University Library.

The couple enjoyed entertaining and in 1854, they welcomed President Millard Fillmore to their home shortly after he left the presidency. They also celebrated Columbus’ own Augusta Jane Evans after her marriage to Col. Lorenzo M. Wilson. Mrs. Jones was a great admirer of the "rising young authoress" Augusta Evans, who had written "Inez" at the age of fifteen and "Beulah" at eighteen. With what pleasure all Columbus society gathered at "the celebrated ball" given in honor of the young novelist of whom the whole town was proud! She would go on to write seven more novels (including “St. Elmo”) and became one of the South’s most prolific and successful antebellum authors, male or female. Years later when this frail beautiful woman died, May 9, 1909, the Enquirer said: "In the death of Mrs. Augusta Evans Wilson which occurred suddenly early Sunday morning at her home in Mobile, Alabama, there passed away perhaps the most widely known person Columbus has had the honor of giving to the world." (Augusta Jane Evans Wilson is pictured below.)

In 1858, Absalom Harris Chappell, born in Hancock County, Georgia, moved to Columbus from Macon, after having served a distinguished two-year term in Congress, and being elected twice to the Georgia Legislature, once to the House, and once to the Senate, of which he became President. His wife was Loretto Rebecca Lamar. She was sister of L. Q. C. Lamar, a judge and father to a US Supreme Court justice, and Mirabeau B. Lamar, founder of the Enquirer and former President of the Republic of Texas. Third brother, Thomas, became a prominent physician in Macon, and still another brother, Jefferson, was one of Georgia’s most successful planters of the late antebellum period. Loretto, too, was a woman of action. During the Civil War, she was the first president of the Soldier’s Aid Society in Columbus. This organization made clothing and undergarments to send to soldiers in the field. Members also help tend to the sick and wounded at hospitals in Columbus.

1914 Map of Columbus The Chappell property (Glen Lora) is located to the north of Linwood Cemetery and the block labeled New Hospital.

Soon after moving to town, the Chappell family bought the stately Randall Jones home. It was then it became "Glen Lora." The home they purchased was a twelve-room mansion with spacious chambers. Its central hall boasted of a “flying” spiral staircase beautifully built of mahogany. Glen Lora once possessed one of the finest gardens in the area with broad grounds shaded by ancient trees and brightened by flower gardens, including a rose garden with an iron sundial. Adding to the color and sound of their home were peacocks, whose plaintive calls could be heard for blocks. The beautiful estate housed succeeding generations of the Chappell family for 75 years.

Absalom Chappell had four sons. Lucius Henry was one of Columbus' most prominent citizens and was elected twice as mayor of the city. Joseph Harris Chappell, author of "Georgia Stories," became the first President of the Georgia State College for Women, His third and fourth sons were Thomas J. Chappell, a prominent Columbus lawyer, and Lamar Chappell. Pictured Left to Right: Lucius, Thomas, Lamar, and Joseph. The photograph was taken in the 1890s.

Two of the granddaughters of Absalom H. Chappell were married in this beautiful home and descended the spiral stairway. They were Mrs. Withers Burress (Virginia Chappell), wife of Major-General Withers Burress, Commandant of Fort Benning, and Mrs. Percy W. Clarkson (Kent Chappell), wife of Major General Clarkson, in command of the Third Division, U. S. Infantry at Fort Benning (1949). Another granddaughter, Loretto Lamar Chappell, daughter of Lucius H. and Cynthia Hart Chappell, inherited the literary talent of her grandfather, the understanding of her mother, and the administrative ability of her father, to become an accomplished Columbus Librarian.

Office of Lucius Henry Chappell, Columbus, 1897. Chappell, shown seated at his desk, was in the real estate and insurance business. He was elected mayor the year this picture was taken. Elected in 1897, Mr. Chappell retired from office in 1907, but, at the request of his fellow citizens, he was again Mayor from 1911 to 1913. During Mr. Chappell's tenure of office, assisted by an able board of Aldermen, the first real program of street curbing, paving and parking were done; a full-paid fire department was established; the movement was inaugurated to build the municipal water works plant; the first reinforced concrete bridge was built across the Chattahoochee; a public library building was erected; city jail, municipal building, fire stations and public schools. He has been rightly called the "Father of Modern Columbus."

Columbus, 1898. Home of Lucius Henry Chappell located at 1430 Third Avenue, which he occupied after being elected mayor. Standing left to right: Jennie Hart, Mr. and Mrs. Chappell. Seated left to right: Loretta Lamar Chappell, Bentley Chappell.

Glen Lora’s prime location near downtown made it appealing as a location for commercial development. Around 1940, the home was purchased and torn down. Once the historic old house was demolished, the site became the Nurses Home, and later the site was used as the Muscogee County Health Department. The property is now a part of Piedmont Hospital.

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