Hardman Farm

Hardman Farm house

This week when we didn’t have guests or chores that needed our immediate attention we decided to play tourists and took a short excursion (33 minutes) to the Hardman Farm State Historic Site just south of Helen, Georgia. A guided tour of the restored and furnished main house, outbuildings, and grounds took us back in time.

Situated on the historic Unicoi Turnpike, the farm was actually occupied by three different families with the Hardmans being the last family to own the property. In 1999 it was donated to the State of Georgia and as of this writing it is the newest Georgia State historic site. Our tour guide shared the rich history of the estate and its influence on the area.

The Nichols Family- The First Residents

Confederate Captain James Hall Nichols of Milledgeville, GA purchased the property and built many of the original buildings as a permanent home for his wife Kate and daughter Anna Ruby – namesake of Anna Ruby Falls. The main house called West End was built in the early 1870s using an Italianate design. It is identical to his brother-in-law’s home in Milledgeville with a few innovative exceptions to make the home more comfortable. Captain Nichols added a cupola or solar chimney on top for cooling and a larger wrap around porch to take advantage of the mountain breezes from any direction as well as beautiful views of Mount Yonah. He also made his own acetylene gas on the property that produced lighting in the home. The now iconic gazebo on top of the Indian mound across the road from West End was also built by Captain Nichols as a picnic spot inadvertently saving the mound from destruction – several other mounds in the area were leveled to create farm land.

The Hunnicut Family

The Hunnicuts of Atlanta purchased the property from James Nichols in 1893 for $22,500. Calvin Hunnicut, like Captain James Nichols, was active in the Civil War but became impoverished after the war. He formed a plumbing and stove company in Atlanta to make his fortune. Unlike the Nichols family who used the property as their full time home, the Hunnicuts only came to the farm for summer getaways. They enjoyed the Atlanta social life too much to leave Atlanta for too long.

The Hardman Family

Dr. Lamartine Griffin Hardman best known as Governor of Georgia between 1927 and 1931, purchased the property in 1903 renaming it Elizabeth on the Chattahoochee for his mother. The farm was just one of his many properties and an opportunity to practice innovations in farming, dairy farming, the use of electricity and more. The grist mill just around the corner from the main house was part of the purchase and renamed Nora Mill in memory of his sister and used to produce electricity for the home – much safer than the acetylene gas originally used on the property. Hardman married Emma Griffin of Valdosta in 1907 and they raised four children who enjoyed their summers at the farm as did their children.

The Hardman Farm has 15 structures that you can see including several that you can tour. You must purchase a ticket for a guided tour if you want to tour the main house most of the year. During the Christmas holidays the farm is decorated and docents in period dress share the history of the farm with visitors. Farm to table dinners are offered from time to time using fresh produce from the gardens. For special event dates, check the site below.

Also make sure to hike the Hardman Heritage Trail which starts at the farm and follows the Chattohoochee River to Helen. The hike is flat and easy on a concrete trail. Informational signs posted along the trail explain the history of the area. You can hike the trail even when the farm is closed and see Nora Mill from a different perspective across the river.

For more information on the Hardman Farm and tour information visit https://gastateparks.org/HardmanFarm

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/ZtWDsqwkqmn7VS8a6

Gold Rush Festival- A Survival Guide

gold rush festival

Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Festival happens every year the third weekend in October. The event is the largest festival of the year in Dahlonega and probably the largest festival in the North Georgia mountains. Ranked as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast by the Southeastern Tourism Society, you should come and experience it at least once.

It has been estimated that over 200,000 people attend the event over the two day weekend so festival goers need to be aware of crowds. This article will provide tips on surviving the festival with all of those people. Come and enjoy the festival atmosphere and work around the crowds unless you like crowds.

The Gold Rush festival does not begin until Saturday morning but you will see evidence of the coming event if you travel downtown Friday afternoon and evening. The Historic Dahlonega square is blocked off with barricades to vehicular traffic Friday evening and the East-West streets are closed from the UNG campus near El Jimodor restaurant to Pueblos Restaurant on the other end. Then the 300 or more vendors move in to set up their booths that will be displaying and selling everything from art to jewelry to hand made furniture. Many festival food vendors will also be setting up to sell drinks, bratwurst, pork rinds, funnel cakes and more.

The Gold Rush Festival also has a great small town parade on Saturday from the Walmart intersection to the square with a grand marshall, festival king and queen. Check the timing if you’re there or plan on driving that way.

Timing is Everything

If you are staying with us for the festival weekend we recommend you enjoy dinner in Dahlonega Friday night before the Gold Rush festival begins. If the streets are blocked the parking areas around the square are a short walk away from the restaurants.

Saturday morning after eating your scrumptious breakfast at the inn plan to head to town by 10:00 am to check out the Gold Rush Festival before the afternoon crowds arrive. Finish up by noon or 1:00 pm and head out of town to one of the five wineries in the area that are mainly located north of town not too far from the inn. For lunch and/or dinner choose one of the wineries (see related blog post below) or the Riverside Tavern at Turners Corner north of the inn.

Getting back into downtown Dahlonega Saturday afternoon can mean a long wait in traffic – at least by our small town country standards. Make your plans accordingly.

Most of the waterfalls, hiking trails and wineries are north of town away from the Gold Rush traffic. These can keep you busy for the rest of your Saturday and Sunday as well. If you want to stop by the festival after breakfast to see if that special item you wanted on Saturday is still there, Sunday morning is a great time to head back to town. Crowds tend to be light until after 12:00 noon.

For more information visit https://goldrushdaysfestival.com/

Dahlonega Wineries for Lunch (Frogtown and Montaluce also serve dinner) https://www.georgiamountaininn.com/2019/09/04/dahlonega-wineries-for-lunch/

Success from Our Perspective

Guests visiting our inn often comment that we appear to be living the Good Life and have achieved success. They’re right!  We enjoy what we do, make ends meet, and don’t have the pressures of most people who still have the daily grind at the office with long commutes and endless meetings. We were once in that mode as well , so we feel their pain when they share their work/ life frustrations and climbing that ladder to success.

Many years ago I wrote an article about success after we opened our bed and breakfast inn. It was titled “Success: A Lengthy Journey or State of Mind. ” It is still applicable in today’s world so we thought we would share it below. We are practicing “right livelihood” and enjoying our life of inn keeping as we have done for the last 16 years.

Success: A Lengthy Journey or State of Mind

In today’s society many baby boomers are searching for something that is illusive and difficult to obtain.

They search long and hard to not only find it, but to feel the satisfaction that finding it may bring. This search takes them on a journey through life that has a profound effect on their relationships with others as well as their overall happiness and well being. What they are searching for is Success. How Do We Create Our Definition of Success?

The baby boomer generation’s definition of success began forming at an early age. As children they watched their fathers and mothers work hard to achieve success through home ownership, a good paying job and the obtainment of material possessions. Some moved to bigger houses and their parents purchased more expensive cars as spendable income increased.

At Christmas time they may have found that the presents got more expensive and numerous as well. In receiving all of these things many found that their working parents spent less time with them as children. Now they know that time is what they most cherished.

Some baby boomers grew up in a family where their parents worked hard but never seemed to have anything. The house was small and the car was always old and in the mechanics shop. Material possessions were never abundant. Children raised in this type of situation may have formed their definition of success from other successful people, society and the media. Not having the trappings of success made them more determined to achieve it in their adult life. They were going to be “more successful than their parents.” In the final analysis were they?

As a baby boomer I followed my parents’ example after high school and attended college hoping it would lead to a good career. Like many I found that it was difficult to land that perfect job after graduation and I became frustrated that success was still out of reach. After a period of job moves searching for that “perfect position” I reached the pinnacle stage of my career. Like my friends I worked to purchase the biggest house, nicer cars, better clothes and other material possessions to validate my success. Each year the debt levels increased that required a higher salary. The additional debt caused me to feel “handcuffed” to my job. In our north Dallas neighborhood there were many of my neighbors that purchased expensive homes but did not have the money for furniture. They created an illusion of success on the outside of their stately two story homes. If success was the accumulation of material things were these people successful? Almost everything they owned of value was actually owned by the credit card companies and the mortgage holder. What price were they really paying for success?

How Do We Evaluate Success?

There comes a time in everyone’s life when one starts evaluating his or her success. Part of the evaluation is spent looking at the sacrifices made along the way and what is there to show for all the effort, blood, sweat and tears. In essence what was the price for success in tangible and intangible terms? An example might be the many moves a family had to go through for the father/mother to get the promotions and higher salaries. The impact on children frequently changing schools and making new friends. Stresses caused by increased responsibility with each new position and the effect that stress had on the family’s happiness. Once the evaluation is completed many individuals question the value of “success” even if material possessions and the money is abundant. Some realize that the price paid to reach success was too high. They yearn for the happiness, true fulfillment and peace of mind they never had.

Did I Ever Achieve Success?

I am one that followed the course of success established by my parents. As a baby boomer societal influences also had an impact on my definition and striving for success. I climbed the career ladder knowing that when I reached the top I would achieve success and fulfillment. I found out I was wrong.

A comment that my supportive and loving wife of 23 years made to me several years ago during my hectic corporate days really made me think about what I was doing. One beautiful evening while walking the dog she said “ Fred, you know we were the happiest when we first started out. You didn’t make much money. We had that rental house, the old furniture and the old car.” Another comment made by my oldest son when he was 16 was “dad when I grow up I don’t want to be like you, you don’t like your job and you never seem happy.” When you receive this kind of input you know something about your path to success isn’t quite right. I have also learned that many children of baby boomers are not defining success the same way my generation did.

I Finally Found Success

I gathered up the courage and gave up the high paying corporate job in north Dallas. We moved to a small Colorado town for a year of college teaching. I remember the reactions I received from family and coworkers. My wife and children were ready for adventure but my mother thought I was going through a mid life crisis. I was jumping off the “success train” established by her generation. Colleagues at work either thought I was crazy or were actually envious of my new life change.

One corporate officer said that he wished that he could do something like I did, but he was afraid his wife and children would be upset to give up the big house and all of the possessions. I’m sorry to say that I think he is still searching for success. I quickly found that giving up the corporate politics and business suits was easy. So was the two-hour daily commute to my office in north Dallas.

In Colorado I walked across the street to work and wore sport shirts, khaki pants and hiking boots. Currently I am living with my family in a small college town in the North Georgia Mountains. I work at home. My wife is a schoolteacher. I have reached success at 46. I only wish I could have reached it sooner.

My New Perspective on Success

What I now realize is that success does not have to be a lengthy journey. Unfortunately most of us have to learn this by going through life striving for career achievement and paying the price. True success is based on how we view things relating to our life and career. Success does not mean obtaining material possessions or career status. I learned from friends we met in Colorado that some people with little money are successful. We had college teaching friends that did not have a great deal of money but enjoyed simple things like making biscotti, buying a good bottle of wine, listening to jazz at the coffee shop or exploring the mountains. They had more than I ever had when I was using society’s definition of success.

True success is genuine satisfaction, happiness and contentment with yourself and the world around you. Truly enjoying life, family, friends, work, hobbies and all that life has to offer.

I invite you to find it and enjoy it.

To read more about our background prior to inn keeping visit meet the innkeepers.