In the late 1870s, at the peak of the American Aesthetic Movement, a wealthy businessman named Legare H. Foster purchased a rural 11-acre lot in Madison, Georgia. The property was the former home of the Georgia Female Academy, which burned to the ground during the Civil War, leaving only the foundation. In 1883, Foster built a 5,000 square foot mansion atop the foundation of the burned college.
The home was considered by local newspapers to be the most elegant country home in Georgia. Each of the eight main rooms featured 14-foot ceilings and a fireplace. The first floor features black walnut built-in cabinets, stenciled ceilings, and wainscoting. The downstairs pocket doors open to reveal the library. In 1889, Robert Usher Thomason purchased the Foster-Thomason-Miller House. Thomason updated the color scheme throughout and repainted the exterior. In 1916, he added indoor plumbing and electricity. It was also the first house in Madison County to have a gasification system. For the next ninety years, Thomason descendants occupied the home. In 1978, the Millers purchased the mansion from Thomason descendants and immediately began restoring the house to its original glory.
The meticulous restoration garnered awards and was recognized by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation in 1986. The Millers collected antique furnishings to recreate the American Aesthetic Movement interior. The house was the only home in Morgan County ever to win such an award. The photos below are from after the last renovation.
In 2001, a fire significantly damaged the rear addition of the house. The central portion of the house suffered primarily smoke and water damage. The Foster-Thomason-Miller House has sat vacant ever since. Even in its current state, a majority of the gorgeous 133-year old interior remains intact. The house was listed for sale in 2015 for $459,000. By 2017, the house was off the market and in dire need of stabilization.
With no plans for renovation, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation put the property on its 2018 ‘Places in Peril’ list, which raised the profile of the home and attracted the attention of conservationists. In May of 2018, the house and an adjacent lot were sold to the Madison-Morgan Conservancy, a local non-profit aiming to protect historical sites. The Friesens also offered to sell the house to the non-profit Madison-Morgan Conservancy, a proposition that the Georgia organization duly accepted. Following this, the Madison-Morgan Conservancy carried out work to stabilize the home’s structure to get it ready to sell on to a private buyer. The property was listed on the condition that the new owner restored the exterior and interiors to an exacting standard. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it eligible for significant tax credits.