A Victorian Beauty
Article and Photos by Kathleen Walls
People are talking about a certain Victorian beauty in Rome Georgia. She may be up in years a bit but she is certainly not over the hill. This charming Victorian Lady is coddled and pampered by the McHaggee family, Chris, Holly Iris, their three cats, Loki, Desil and Trey, and a few chickens. Iris has fallen in love with the white chicken.. Actually Chris and Holly do all the coddling and pampering, not to mention the hard work, while three-year old daughter Iris and the three cats just offer their considerable charm.
As might be expected, such a beauty has quite a history. She was completed in 1882 after three years of work by Hamilton Yancey and his wife Florence. Hamilton was from Macon: Florence Paterson was from Athens but they moved to Rome because its infrastructure was not as devastated from the War between the States.
For the three years of its construction, the Yanceys lived in a tiny cottage still in use in the rear of the mansion. It was worth the wait. The new home, named Claremont for Florence's favorite cousin Clare De Graffenried, was the perfect example of Gothic Second Empire Victorian. It features the classic Mansard roof, Red and gray slate tiles in five different shapes. gothic arch over the door, shallow bay windows, a cupola and turret and dormer windows that all lend an air of elegant mystery. It was only the fifth house built in East Rome and just a gorgeous today as it was when the Yanceys moved in to it.
It was a showplace as well as a home. it had 14 foot ceilings, rich heart of pine woodwork and 14 inch crown moldings, an indication of the great wealth of the family. There were 11 coal burning fireplace to keep it warm and a safe that would be the envy of Donald Trump.
The Yanceys owned all the land around the house which they planted mainly in wheat , and Hamilton practiced law until the flood of 1886 ruined his law library and he changed professions to become well respected in the insurance field. Like any family they had to face life's ups and downs. They raised eight children, three boys and five girls, in Claremont House's spacious rooms.
One of the girls, Julia, died when she was only four. It is said that her spirit still plays in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Their youngest daughter was also named Clare, for her aunt. The elder Clare worked for the labor department in Washington , D.C. She would visit the factories and mills and write essays about the work conditions.
In later years, the house passed to Hamilton Jr., called Ham, the third son and his wife, Nell Junkin Yancey. When Nell died, Ham sold to house to another lawyer. It passed out of Yancey hands. Over the years other owners came and went with the house finally becoming a bed and breakfast in 1982. It still changed hands about every three years. That is until Chris and Holly bought it in 2003. Once again it seems to have found its place in society.
Those who visit cannot help but fall under its spell. It has even drawn in movie producers. Tears of Bankers and All Hollows Eve- Lord of the Harvest have both been filmed partially in the Claremont House. If True Blood ever features the King of Georgia, I am sure he will want to live in the Claremont House.
When you visit, you will be drawn in by the charm and atmosphere––not to mention the scrumptious breakfast the McHagges serve. The ball and claw tubs and high Victorian beds will transport you to an more elegant time. You could wander the halls, rooms and grounds for weeks and still find new hidden treasures to brighten you stay. This elegant old lady still knows how to charm a guest.
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