Georgia Travel Articles
A Brush with Destiny
by Kathleen Walls
Then it was the beautiful home of Dr. Fielding Ficklin, his wife Frances and their children. Dr Ficklin had bought a house in Washington to bring his family when they wanted some respite from the loneliness of his plantation. It had been a modest, two-story Federal plainstyle home when he bought it in 1837 but Dr. Ficklin had had his plantation home, also a Federal plainstyle structure moved the seven miles from the plantation and attached it to the front of the original home. He added an elaborate entrance portico facing Alexander Avenue. Litttle did he know then that his home had a date with destiny.
The home was a beautiful showplace for the wealth provided by the Ficklin's plantation and his practice as a doctor but Washington was filled with similar beautiful homes. The event that has given the Ficklin home its place in history occurred in May (probably 4th or 5th) 1865. Dr. Ficklin's youngest son, Boyce, then in his early teens, wrote an account many years later of the arrival of the home's most famous visitors.
Thus in a few well chosen words, this witness to history sums up Mrs. Varina Davis's last refuge during the War Between the States. History moved on and Jefferson Davis, the one and only Confederate president, was captured a short distance from Washington near Fitzgerald Georgia.
The Ficklins' home had become Holly Court Inn Bed and Breakfast but the room Mrs. Davis occupied is preserved much as it looked when she must have tossed and turned on the high four poster bed worrying about what lay in store for her little family.
I was thrilled to have a chance to visit Holly Court Inn and stay in that historic room. It's in places like this that history becomes personal. It's not about a great historic event but more on human basis. Varina davis was a wife and mother here not a historic figure and her thoughts were probably not with what would happen to the South now. They were more likely, things like It's so kind of that Ficklin boy, Boyce, to distract Jefferson by taking him fishing . And Will little Winnie sleep well in this strange bed? And probably uppermost What will happen to Jefferson? Will they imprison him? Kill him?
Aside from its brush with history, Holly Court Inn is everything anyone could desire in a bed and breakfast. Innkeepers, Phil and Maggie Rothman, have maintained the historic integrity of their inn, which is also their home. From the moment you enter the door you feel like a welcome friend of the family. The homelike atmosphere is furthered by their son, Aaron, and the family dogs, Tyrone and Pepper.
There are four lovely rooms, Holly Heights, Garden View, Serenity and my person favorite, Varina Davis Room. All have romantic four poster beds, period correct furniture and private baths. All but Serenity have cozy gas burning fireplaces to complete the illusion that you have stepped back into the 19th century. The grounds are a wondrous garden that help create the illusion of a more leisurely time.
Breakfast is a special time. Aaron is a trained chef. Maggie is not far behind and Phil makes up for his culinary lacks with superb conversation. He did tell me he succeeded in preparing a special feast for some guests that requested it at the last moment.
This is the kind of place that can work magic on frazzled nerves caused by 21th century hustle and bustle. It's pure 19th century except for all the modern conveniences including WiFi.
An excursion into the town of Washington helps keep the feeling of 19th century life alive. (just squint at automobiles and telephone lines and ignore them) Washington is filled with more antebellum homes , per capita, than any other city of its size in Georgia. Among them, the Robert Toombs House Museum and the Washington Historical Museum. A visit to nearby Callaway Plantation continues the 19th century illusion.
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