Christmas Tour of Homes in Monticello, FL, 2016

Pearl Street in Monticello

CHRISTMAS TOUR OF HOMES in MONTICELLO, FLORIDA

Pearl Street in Monticello

Pearl Street in Monticello Florida

The 2016 Christmas Tour of Homes in the City of Monticello in Jefferson County Florida is on Saturday, December 10, 2016 from 12:00 to 6:00 PM. This event includes a self-directed tour of nine (9) historic venues and is presented by the Monticello Area Historic Preservation Association.

The tour costs $15.00 and you can buy tickets in advance from Monticello/Jefferson Chamber and several other venues in the town of Monticello and Southern Friends Framing and Antiques in Thomasville.

The most fun however, will be to go to the Women’s Club building at 985 East Pearl Street (Monticello’s prettiest street). They not only have tickets for the tour, they have their famous holiday cakes and if you are hungry they also offer a light meal for sale. The sponsors of this event provide a phone number if you have questions – 850-997-6552.

This tour encompasses an area of Monticello that is often overlooked except by local residents. You will see several houses that are truly beautiful as well as interesting historically and culturally.

One other thing you should look for during the tour is the magnificent Monticello Avenue of Oaks. These wonderful trees are worth the tour alone. Ask someone to direct you when you visit the Women’s Club.

The tour sponsor, Monticello Area Historic Preservation Association, works with our Women’s Club, Monticello/Jefferson Chamber, Jefferson County Tourist Development Council and Main Street of Monticello to encourage the preservation of the treasured buildings in this tiny 1827 town.

Monticello’s tree lined streets are full of small and large historic homes, many dating from before the Civil War. They are an expression of the best of our culture and we welcome your visit.

JC #1 347

JC #1 248

Located - Pearl and Jefferson

Located – Pearl and Jefferson

Joseph Neil Reed, Architect in Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida

Built in  frame in 1838, rebuilt in brick 1852, remodeled by J.Neel Reid in 1914

Hidden along the quiet streets of small towns in south Georgia and north Florida are forgotten treasures—unique and beautiful houses and buildings designed by the south’s great architect, Joseph Neel Reid. Atlanta and Macon Georgia boast many Reid buildings, but the tiny towns of Quitman, Georgia and Monticello, Florida have their own examples of Reid’s genius.

Built in  frame in 1838, rebuilt in brick 1852, remodeled by J.Neel Reid in 1914

Built in frame in 1838, rebuilt in brick 1852, remodeled by J.Neel Reid in 1914

Reid is described by author William R. Mitchell, Jr., as a “champion of architecture, gardens, and interior decoration, of fine arts and antiques, a leader of charm and style who helped to establish architecture and landscape architecture as professions in his region.”

A native of Alabama, Joseph Neel Reid began his career as an apprentice in Macon and Atlanta Georgia. He studied architecture at Columbia University in New York and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His first partnership included Hal Hentz of Gadsden County, Florida and G. L. Norman. Adler joined the firm after the first year. Their earliest projects included homes in Colonial Revival style with Reid’s signature classical details and Italianate touches.

Reid redesigned and rebuilt the Jefferson Academy in Monticello Florida in 1914. Built first in the 1930s in frame, the school was redone in bricks handmade by slaves in 1852. In 1914, Reid added east and west wings and integrated them into the building’s new design with the sweep of wide steps and massive neo-classical columns across the front portico. Smaller columns cross the ground level entrance at the back of the building.

Known by many residents as the old Monticello High School, this building sits high above the south side of Washington Street near Monticello’s town center. On a corner, the location offers a clear view of this perfect example of Reid’s eclecticism, a graceful mixture of Greek-Revival and neo-Georgian.

The Turnbull House was designed by Joseph Neel Reid 1918

The Turnbull House was designed by Joseph Neel Reid 1918

A few blocks down Washington Street from the old Monticello High School building is Reid’s T. T. Turnbull house with its long Italianate loggia. This home was built for a representative to Florida’s legislature who later became a representative to the United States Congress. Complete Hentz and Reid drawings for both of these buildings are housed in the Georgia Tech archives in Atlanta.

Rear View of remodeled Old Monticello High School

Rear View of remodeled Old Monticello High School

 

 

Jefferson County Florida Slave Canal

Wacissa River at Goosepasture

My friend Ed Green took me through wilderness of the famous Jefferson County Slave Canal in a small boat. I wanted to take pictures, and he knew I was worried about my camera and believed the boat would provide more stability for me than a canoe.

The canal was beautiful, breathtaking at times, but believe me, it was a kayaking or canoe trip, not a boat trip. Although Ed’s boat was small and light, it was too much for the obstacles encountered along the trail.

Slave Canal dug by slaves in 1850s to connect the Wacissa and Aucilla Rivers

Slave Canal dug by slaves in 1850s to connect the Wacissa and Aucilla Rivers

We slid under fallen trees, pushed over big sunken logs and made portages. Someone had done some cutting of fallen trees to open the trail, but they were obviously providing for a small canoe or Kayak not even a boat as small as ours.  I’d go back any time, but I would have to go in a kayak or a small canoe. I’ll just buy a waterproof camera so I don’t have to worry about it.

We put the boat in at Goose Pasture. The sky was brilliant blue and the clouds were mysterious snow white shapes. We had to push through heavy grass just under the surface of the water as we moved the boat along the Wacissa toward the turn to the canal. There are signs where the trail branches off, but you have to watch carefully, it would be easy to lose your way. I was thankful to be with someone who knew the turns.

Wacissa River at Goosepasture

Wacissa River at Goose Pasture

 

I started taking pictures immediately. Shots from the shore alone were worth visiting Goose Pasture landing. As we drifted along the river every scene we passed seemed to be waiting to be photographed. Thank goodness for a digital camera. I would have been sick under the constraints of film.

As we entered the actual Slave Canal Ed pointed out areas of Indian mounds explaining that in this area many of the mounds are very ancient, some even Paleolithic. It was very quiet. We began to see water birds and an occasional gator. There were two or three places where it would have been easy to take a wrong turn, but we managed to stay on the trail.

Great piles of stones, many probably two feet square line one part of the canal. These were piled along the waterway by the hands of men working in this humid, jungle-like environment in the 1850s. It is an impressive sight, worth making the trip through the canal.

We came to the Aucilla along a stretch of water bordered by banks of wildflowers then the cabins and houses of Nutall Rise came into view and we were out of the wilderness.

 

The Secret Treasures of Jefferson County Florida

SECRET TREASURES IN JEFFERSON COUNTY FLORIDA

by Anne Haw Holt

Monticello is our county seat. Eight miles away, give or take a few steps, you find Lloyd, Wacissa, Waukeenah, Lamont, Aucilla and a couple of villages that are only a place name today, such as Ashville and Fanlew. The eight mile distance is easily explained. A horse or mule and wagon with a farmer and his family sitting atop produce or perhaps simply riding along could easily make a sixteen-mile round trip to the county seat on Saturday or Court day. Early Indian scares required an active militia, men who easily made the eight-mile trip by horseback on Thursday afternoons to drill under the Meeting Oak that still shades the south porch of our beautiful courthouse.

Jefferson County Courthouse, Florida

Jefferson County Courthouse, Florida

Jefferson County is about the 12th or 13th Florida county created in 1827, but settled earlier. A Mr. Robeson or Robertson kept a trading post here from the early 1820s.  Some think a Spanish mission was located on this site. The town that grew up around the trading post was called Robeson’s Corners. The town’s name was changed to Monticello in 1827 and as with the county name, honored Thomas Jefferson.

Our treasures are simple, and easily overlooked until you stop and study a while. High ground, hammock to wetland, our land rolls sweetly and is covered in as many shades of green as the fields of western Ireland. This was the favored land of the Apalachees, rich farmland where they grew their sustaining crops.

Old Bellamy Road and fields off Avalon Road in Jefferson County, Florida

Old Bellamy Road and fields off Avalon Road in Jefferson County, Florida

The Apalachee’s farming practices included burning to keep the fields clear. From the time the United States acquired the territory in 1819 these rich open fields were called “Old Fields” and avidly sought by settlers for their plantations. Men came to the area ahead of their families to select and stake out patents that included cleared and rich “old fields” that would allow them to plant a crop immediately. The first-comers didn’t have to spend a year or more clearing away thick stands of pine and oak before plowing.

Jefferson County forests are still thick and dark green, full of shadows, formidably dense. The extensive flatwoods of the south part of the county are secret to all but hunters and timber men seeking stands of towering cypress—formidable and forbidding forests. Tales abound of bears, panthers and other wildlife lurking in the scrub.

Jefferson County's Flatwoods search for the Florida Volcano

Jefferson County’s Flatwoods search for the Florida Volcano

There is an ancient legend of a volcano told and re-told by Native Americans and area settlers. Parties searching for the volcano tell of finding a strangely shaped hill deep in the flat woods. Huge stones are scattered about the hill. Some speculate that this hill may be the site of a peat burn or an underground gas fire. Then again, searchers may not yet have found the true site of the volcano.