Butler Plantation was once one of the most extensive plantations in the South. The story of the plantation is a fascinating one, beginning in the 1790s when Major Pierce Butler planted rice on the Altamaha Delta. In 1838, the major’s grandson, Captain Pierce Butler, married Fanny Kemble, a famous British stage actress. Kemble, who was not familiar with the reality of slavery, immediately became very opposed to the treatment of slaves. She eventually published a book called “Journal of a Resident on a Georgia Plantation,” which some say helped persuade the British to oppose slavery and the Civil War.
Colonel Tillinghast L’Hommedieu (T.L.) Huston, nicknamed “Cap,” was born in Buffalo, N.Y. on July 17, 1867. His father, an Irish-immigrant, was a civil engineer and his mother was a school teacher. His early years were spent in Cincinnati before he became an engineer alongside his father on the Louisville and Nashville railroads. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Huston served in the U.S. Army as a captain of the 16th Regiment of Engineers during the fighting in Cuba. His first Army stint is where Huston earned his nickname, ‘Cap.’ He remained in Cuba after the war, establishing his fortune by helping the newly liberated country rebuild and improve its infrastructure.
In 1913, Colonel T.L. Huston partnered with fellow Colonel, Jacob Ruppert Jr., and purchased the American League Baseball Club of New York. Two years later, they bought a lowly Yankees team from Frank Farrell and William Devery, who were responsible for bringing the franchise to New York City. Under Ruppert and Huston’s ownership, the New York Yankees won two pennants, quickly becoming one of the nation’s favorite baseball teams. As owner of the Yankees, Col. Huston was instrumental in signing and retaining Babe Ruth, at the time considered “The Deal of the Century.” He also supervised most of the $2 million construction of the original Yankee Stadium which was completed in 1923. Huston dubbed it “The House that Ruth Built.”
In 1922, Huston retired and sold his share of the Yankees to Ruppert for $1.50 million. In 1926, he purchased the Butler Island property and built the house the following year. He converted the property into a dairy farm and attempted to raise cows. Locals proclaimed Huston’s Dairy produced the best milk east of the Mississippi. However, the dairy farm proved to be a challenging endeavor. Huston hauled off the cows in 1932 and found success using the land to grow iceberg lettuce. Within a decade, Butler Island became one of the largest iceberg lettuce farms on the east coast. On March 29, 1938, Col. Huston suffered a heart attack and died instantly while at his desk. Tobacco heir R.J. Reynolds purchased Butler Island after Huston’s death. By the 1970s, all operations on the grounds had ceased.
The Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division currently owns Butler Island Plantation which is open to the public for picnicking, fishing and bird watching. However, the Huston House is currently vacant and is not. There are no long-term plans for use or maintenance of the home. Changing climate conditions and recent hurricanes have exposed the house to the elements. Without a plan in place, these threats will lead to the continued deterioration of the home. In 2019, the Huston House was placed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Places in Peril” list.
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I have been reading all about all these abandoned Mansions, and I would not want just anyone in my home. But I’ve also been reading about all the homeless veterans the Americans that fought for America to keep our Country safe. And alot of them went into the service because they had no family so they made us their family. Unfortunately they were not as lucky coming home as they were going in, some lost one arm, a arm and a leg or both legs or came back blind. And some gave their all, their life. But the ones that are disabled and have No family to help them at all when they get out of the Hospital. What happens to them no one will hire them because they can’t do the job as good as the healthy person behind them. So many of them even with their little bit of disability the Government pays out it doesn’t pay rent,power, heat ,food car, and insurance all the things you need to just to get by. Seventy-five percent of them have no choice but to live on the streets.
Wouldn’t it be great if even one of these places that the owners have no intentions on selling the Mansion or doing any fixing up if they would just talk to some of these men and if these men would use there little Government checks to pay to power bill and their own Groceries. And I’m sure alot of these men are good carpenters so if something wears our they can fix. Look the owner is paying the taxes to let it set there and do nothing with. Now I’m only talking about like the Colonels Mansion and ones like it that are in good living condition.
It’s something I think the owner could consider, if you decide No it’s No its Your personal property to do with what you like.
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Well, that’s a point, Penny
Do you mean what’s your point? Because if that’s what you’re asking I thought I made it clear to help these men that gave us our Country their all. And at the same time they would not be hurting these homes that these people have no interest in selling or leasing. They could actually keep these places from going to the bad and fixing them up. That would be their jobs just take great care of the homes for the owners. I just thought it would be a great thing if someone had a place like that and would use it to help these men. I really don’t think it will ever happen. People just don’t care about other people any more like they did 100 years ago. I can not understand why in the world why when this Country has in California alone over 500,000 homeless people but they are still letting people come into this Country that have nothing expecting us to take care of them. When Our Country is NOT taking Care of Their Own People! It makes me sick.
I just thought it would be a great thing if someone had a place like that and would use it to help these men. I really don’t think it will ever happen. People just don’t care about other people any more like they did 100 years ago. I can not understand why in the world why when this Country has in California alone over 500,000 homeless people but they are still letting people come into this Country that have nothing expecting us to take care of them. When Our Country is NOT taking Care of Their Own People! It makes me sick.
Wow the 1790s – 1838, plantation – reminiscent base ball, steamships, France and Cuba. I most love that third – floor bedroom the most. Thank you for sharing of both your talent and presenting such unique and delightful ghostly establishments.
I so do love the fine solid hard wood interiors’ the designs a smooth and the colors were perfection in the era of the establishments, homes and mansions. And even peeling paint has its unique feel of artistic character. Mint or sea green color wall tiles, but it’s the wood grains and stains that are so alluring of eye.
I must say that I do have my favorite though; it’s the eye and imagination catching images of ‘The Foster – Thomason – Miller House. Stunning even in its suffrage of fire damages. But those tall wooden doors, and raised ceiling, the entirety of it, must definitely be home to such spirits of yesteryear. If there was a vote it should make first page and book cover honors.
What a shame–that is a gorgeous house.
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It’s a shame about the house. It looks like it is very salvageable. Great article.
That made me cry. I hope that house can be preservepreserved. It is so beautiful. God bless you for bringing these places to peoples attention.
Great work throughout your project. I’m down a rabbit hole doing some research and came across it. Thought I would share this image from Vanishing Georgia of the Butler Island Dairy truck no. 131: http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/vanga/id:gly065
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I loved the house,and all the storage sheds,and that big old barn, somebody walked away from a great thing !!!!
I hate seeing beautiful homes such as this just sit vacant and abandoned when they can be so useful to loving families. It breaks my heart to see such beauty goes to waste, ruin and rot.