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  • Writer's pictureHistoric Columbus

The Martin J. Crawford House: An Uptown Evolution

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. Jno. A. Pope National Register Nomination.


Martin Jenkins Crawford was born in Jasper County in 1820. By the age of nineteen, he had studied law and gained admission to the state bar by a special act of the Georgia General Assembly. He then moved to Hamilton, Georgia to establish a law office. There he met and married Amanda Reese in 1842. They had four children. Soon, Martin and Amanda moved to the larger city of Columbus to begin his legal career here. Upon arrival in 1849, Crawford moved his family into a home at 209 Thirteenth Street. He formed a partnership with Porter Ingram several years later, and the firm experienced great success. His skills as a lawyer brought notice from many men in the city and resulted in his appointment as judge of the Superior Court of the Chattahoochee Circuit by Governor Herschell Johnson in 1854.

The home at 209 Thirteenth Street was built in the early 1840s. Its lower level was built with thick, brick walls more than a foot deep and were stuccoed on the exterior. The upper story was built with timbers sided with clapboard. Sixteen brick piers along the bottom floor supported sixteen round columns with simple Doric capitals. They would form a gallery around three sides of the home. Each column was built of pie-shaped bricks and covered with stucco to give them the appearance of stone. Porch railings on the second-floor verandah were simple with crisscrossed patterned balusters. The first floor of the home held all of the bedrooms and the upper floor contained the living spaces – parlor, dining room, and drawing room for entertaining guests.

Judge Martin J. Crawford

In 1855, Martin Crawford was elected to the U.S. Congress where he served two terms. Crawford was still representing his Georgia district in Congress when Georgia succeeded from the Union on January 22, 1861. Martin Crawford resigned from congressional service on January 23rd. He was a staunch secessionist. After resigning the U.S. Congress, Crawford was elected to the Confederate Provisional Congress, serving from January 1861 to February 22, 1862. Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed Crawford as a special commissioner to the United States in Washington, D.C. Martin J. Crawford then organized the 3rd Regiment, Georgia Cavalry in May 1862 operating with the Army of Tennessee. Under Crawford's command the 3rd Regiment saw combat, fighting in Kentucky with General Wheeler. The next campaign at New Haven saw most of the regiment taken prisoner—the retreating contingent fought at the Battle of Murfreesboro—then reconstituted under Colonel J.J. Morrison. (Related information of note: Dr. John S. Pemberton was a Captain of Company I of the 3rd Georgia Calvary under Colonel Martin Crawford. Crawford and General Henry L. Benning were in-laws. Benning’s daughter (Augusta) married Crawford’s son (Reese). Their grandson, Henry B. Crawford was City Manager in 1922 and then 1926 – 1933.)

Near the end of the Civil War, Crawford returned to Columbus where he hosted a meeting of Jefferson Davis’s Confederate Cabinet at his home. Known to have attended this session were Robert Toombs (Confederate States Secretary of State), Alexander Stevens (Confederate States Vice President), and other prominent men of the Confederate government. Many believe Jefferson Davis was also present. Consequently, many historians have speculated that this meeting was the last of the Confederate Cabinet. However, other towns have also believed the same. The Georgia 3rd surrendered on April 26, 1865, with the Army of Tennessee —surrendering field officers were Colonels Martin J. Crawford, Richard E. Kennon, and Robert Thompson; Lieutenant Colonel James T. Thornton; and Majors Daniel F. Booton and Hiram H. Johnson. After the Civil War, Crawford once again became judge of the Superior Court of the Chattahoochee Circuit on October 1, 1875, to fill a vacancy. He was reappointed in 1877 and served on that bench until he resigned on February 9, 1880. The next day, he was appointed to a vacant position on the Supreme Court of Georgia and served on that court until his death in 1883. He is buried in Linwood Cemetery.

The Crawford home would later become four apartments and by 1949, it was slated for demolition along with five other homes on the block to become a car dealership. During the demolition process, the contractor remarked about the homes’ sturdy construction. Posts measuring ten inches square were still as straight as metal girders and fitted together with mortise and tenon secured by pegs shaped by hand.

The contractor also commented on the large proportions of its rooms, and the staircase that arose from two sides of the hallway to a single landing before making the turn to the second floor. The staircase was removed intact. A room was also found with barred doors in the basement.

In the mid-to-late 1800s, 13th Street was the southern tip of what was called, “High Uptown,” an affluent neighborhood of beautiful Victorian homes. By the early 1900s, Columbus began to develop commercially, and 13th Street became a new hub of commerce at the center of a growing city. There were four homes that faced Thirteenth Street on this block between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue. They were all demolished about the same time for the growing commercial needs of the downtown. This end of the block would become a car dealership with the sections immediately behind it becoming apartments to buffer the remaining homes on the 14th Street side of the block. John A. Pope was born in Box Springs, Georgia and came to Columbus as a boy finding his way very early into machine and auto repair shops. After several years of exposure to working in the automotive industry, he and a partner formed the Patterson-Pope Motor Co. in 1928. This venture lasted 10 years and Mr. Pope went on to start the Jno. A. Pope Motor Co. in 1938. That business initially operated at 1216 Front Avenue until this property at the intersection of 13th Street and 3rd Avenue was acquired and the building was completed in September 1949.

The 1949 John A. Pope Motor Company building is a rare surviving example of the Modern movement and Art Moderne architectural style located in Columbus. This was the first Art Moderne styled auto dealership in the greater Columbus area known to have been built. Designed by preeminent Columbus-based architectural firm James J.W. Biggers and Associates, this project cost $350,000.00 in 1949 was the most modern automotive establishment in the city at the time. The materials used in the construction of the building are typical of the area, the primary material being red brick. Cast stone accents are found in linear treatments along the 2nd story window header line and between the bottom sills. Fluted cast stone treatments are also found on the south and east facades at primary entry points into the building. Consistent with the Art Moderne style, the building features a large, curved portion of the exterior wall at the southeast corner facing the intersection. In keeping with the curved storefront, the building has a curved metal canopy over this corner storefront arrangement. This area was a part of the showroom for the facility, allowing large open expanses of storefront glass to display vehicles for sale visible to the street and pedestrian traffic.

This end of the block continued its transition to more commercial use to include banking and further automobile uses. Today, the property continues its evolution. Columbus-based real estate and investment firm, The Cotton Companies, is bringing Highside Market, an urban infill and adaptive reuse mixed-use development. It is a blend of new construction while preserving the character of the historic building on the site to create a place, space and experiences that nurture a more vibrant, diverse, and prosperous community. Generations later, Highside Market is restoring life to this corridor and piecing together a central connection point for Columbus and all of her people.

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