Huston House

Butler Island Plantation was once one of the largest plantations in the South, located just south of Darien, Georgia across the Darien River on what is now US Highway 17. The story of the plantation is a fascinating one, beginning in the 1790s, when Major Pierce Butler planted the land on the Altamaha Delta. The area provided the perfect conditions for growing rice. In 1838, the major’s grandson, Captain Pierce Butler, married famous and beautiful British stage actress Fanny Kemble. 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.

Huston House
Huston House on Butler Island

Huston House

Colonel Tillinghast L’Hommedieu (T.L.)Huston, nicknamed “Cap”, was one of seven children born on July 17, 1867. His father, an Irish-immigrant, was a civil engineer and his mother was a Kentucky school teacher. His early years were spent in Cincinnati before he became a civil engineer alongside his father on the Louisville and Nashville rails. He served as a Captain (where he got his nickname) of Engineers in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Later, Huston was a member of the Sixteenth Engineers during World War I, where he rebuilt roads and railways near the front lines throughout France. He first came to wealth when he remained in Cuba after its independence to rebuild infrastructure and improve their sewer system.

Huston House
Col. T.L. Huston’s House is set back from the highway, behind the remains of the 19th century rice mill.

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 America’s favorite baseball teams. 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. When the stadium was completed in 1923, Huston dubbed it “The House that Ruth Built.”

Huston House
A commemorative program from Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.

 

Huston House
A view of the Huston House from the back near the dike and canal system.

Huston House

Huston House
The old chimney ruins from the 19th century steam-powered rice mill is visible out of a window.
Huston House
A first-floor parlor room

T.L. Huston retired in 1922 and sold his share of the Yankees to his partner Ruppert for $1.50 million. He purchased the Butler Island Plantation in 1926 and constructed the house the following year. Huston converted the former rice plantation 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 difficult endeavor. Huston hauled off the cows in 1932 and found success using the plantation to grow iceberg lettuce. Butler Island became one of the largest iceberg lettuce farms on the east coast within a decade. On March 29, 1938, Col. Huston suffered a heart attack and died instantly while at his desk. After his death, Butler Island Plantation was purchased by tobacco heir R.J. Reynolds, Jr. All operations on the grounds ceased by the 1970s. Today, the Butler Island Plantation is owned by the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division.

Huston House
The Huston House on Butler Island was visited by numerous famous baseball players, including Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb.
Huston House
The first-floor staircase
Huston House
The home was last used as offices for the Department of Conservancy.

Huston House

Huston House
The second-floor hallway

Huston House

Huston House
A third-floor bedroom
Huston House
An upstairs bathroom

Butler Island Plantation is open to the public for picnicking, fishing and bird watching. The Huston House is currently vacant and not open to the public. It was last used as offices for the Georgia Nature Conservancy. 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 continued deterioration of the home.

Huston House
In 2019, the Huston House was placed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Places in Peril” list.
Huston House
The old Huston Diary Barn dates back to 1929.
Huston House
The main house and the dairy barn are the only two original surviving structures.
Huston House
The overgrown dike and canal system behind the Huston House.

 

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5 Replies to “Huston House”

  1. 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.

    Like

  2. 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.

    Like

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