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  • Writer's pictureHistoric Columbus

Ghosts of Grandeur: The Redd House

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.


Early settlers to Columbus who could afford to build grand dwellings tended to adopt Grecian, Roman, Tuscan, or Italian elements into their homes. Columbus and its surrounding area were dominated by Greek Revival plantation manors, town homes, and country estates bedecked with imposing columns, such as the Fontaine, Illges, Nuckolls – Ingram, and Hoxey (The Lion House) houses, as well as Sherwood Hall, St. Elmo, and The Woolfolk House. During the last fifteen years of the antebellum period, Italianate structures were added to the landscape with notable examples found in Five Oaks, Hilton, Dinglewood, and the Rankin House. However, when Albert Gresham Redd (1822 – 1888) decided to build a country manor home on his Rose Hill estate, he cast aside the Greek Revival and Italianate forms used by his contemporaries and chose instead to build an English Gothic-styled home unlike another other in the state.

Albert Redd came to Columbus from Greene County where his father, Charles, owned a large Federal home known as Paradise Hill in Greensboro. Albert married Henrietta Daniel of Greene County in 1849, and the couple moved to Columbus to be near the large plantation they owned in Chattahoochee County. The couple lived for years in a modest home built amidst a seventeen-acre estate in fashionable Rose Hill outside of Columbus.

1914 Map of Columbus The Redd property is outlined and is adjacent to the Comer and Gunby property.

In the early days of Columbus, Rose Hill, through the southside of which the Stagecoach Road passed, was one of the loveliest of suburbs, with only ten or twelve large estates. For a long time, Rose Hill had been considered a part of the city but had not been formally included. In 1887, the city council took the matter into consideration and after the proper legislation this section was incorporated. Rose Hill was so named by Mrs. James Carter Cook who lived on Twentieth Street. The Cooks had lovely rose gardens, as was the case at other large houses near her, and on account of the profusion of these flowers. Mrs. Cook, who was Mary Louisa Redd, planted beautiful rose gardens, and a hedge of Cherokee roses, which extended around the point of the triangle formed by Talbotton and Hamilton Roads. Others followed her example, and she named the neighborhood "Rose Hill," calling her own house "Rosemont."

As their family and wealth grew, the Redds retained local architects Barringer and Morton to design and build a new manor home. The Redds were familiar with the quality of Barringer and Morton’s work since the firm had recently completed Dinglewood, the Italianate villa, for Joel Early Hurt in Wynnton. However, the English – Gothic residence they built for the Redds was not a design completely of their own imagination, for its basic design and layout is a close facsimile of Design XXXI, a “Villa in the Pointed Style,” from A.J. Downing’s Architecture of Country Homes (pictured above and in the floorplan below). Completed in 1859, The Redds’ country palace was a two-and-a-half story brick structure with enormous proportions. The brick was covered in russet-hued stucco, which contrasted sharply with the elaborate dark brown exterior woodwork. Festooned with finials at its roof peaks, crenelated parapets, iron cresting, oriel windows, and clustered chimneystacks, the Redd house did not lack for exterior ornamentation.

Centered on the front façade was a projecting gable tower. The bottom level of the tower formed a pavilion with three open sides leading to porches. The fourth side of the pavilion held the unique Bohemian glass front doors that opened by sliding into the walls (pocket doors) rather than swing open on hinges. On either side of the tower were one-story porches supported by octagonal columns joined by Gothic arches with open spandrels. The colored glass front doors opened onto a spacious octagonal hall with four walls dominated by doorways and the remaining four walls with niches occupied by life sized statues: The Hunter, The Fisher, The Porte Flambeau, and the Irish Immigrant (as seen in the next two images of the entrance hall). A brilliant crystal chandelier hung from the center of the hallway illuminating the intricate details of fine plaster cornices. On either side of the hallway, sliding doors opened onto a parlor on the left and a drawing room on the right. Both rooms were finished with highly detailed plaster cornice molding and white, carved Italian marble mantels. The central hall’s rear doorway led to a commodious stair hall with a massive, unsupported mahogany staircase spiraling to the third floor. To the side of the stair hall was a large dining room with deeply recessed windows and a pink, carved Italian marble mantel.

Near the back of the house, Redd built a gas plant which all of the lighting fixtures in the residence could be fed for constant illumination. He also installed a water pump system by which those enslaved on the property could pump water into an attic cistern, which supplied gravity-fed water to various indoor rooms. Indoor plumbing made it possible to fill a zinc-lined bathtub made of cypress, an exceptionally rare item on the interior of any home of the period. The third floor of Redd’s Gothic wonder was an enormous hall designed to be used as a ballroom. However, the room was seldom used as intended. When finished, the home had seventeen rooms plus the ballroom and unfinished rooms in the gables of the third floor.

During the Battle of Columbus at the end of the Civil War, the Redds were keeping several guest cousins from Greene County and a friend from New Orleans – Captain Isadore Guillet - at their home. After several days of battle, Captain Guillet was killed and buried in the Redd family burial plot in Linwood Cemetery. Captain Redd and Jeff, the enslaved man who joined him, were captured and taken to Macon to be imprisoned. The women and old people of Columbus had anxiously watched during the battle over in Girard, which looked like a sheet of flame along the Chattahoochee. They stood on the tops of houses and on the high points of surrounding hills – including Rose Hill. Hastily, they had concealed jewelry and valuables and buried their silver. They put it under mattresses, sent some of it to plantations, and some silver, as in the case of the Redd's, was buried in Linwood Cemetery.

After Albert Redd died in 1888, the home was owned and occupied by Redd descendants for a few more generations. The last Redd descendant to occupy the house was Albert Redd Turner, who lived there until 1944 when it was sold to James Edward Humes. Humes intended to establish a music conservatory, but instead turned the home into a piano repair shop for his music store. After Humes died in the early 1950s, this unique home was demolished. The site became a parking lot for the Rose Hill Baptist Church. NEXT WEEK: We will uncover more Columbus stories from Ghosts of Grandeur!

The Redd House by Norman Rothschild

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