Folks who work in the tourism marketing field are often curious about how the visitors who come to their destination, first heard about it. My answer to this query, in the case of Thomasville, Georgia, is "word of mouth". That is because during a visit with two sisters who were Georgia Tree Farm owners, I mentioned that I was scheduled to be driving from the Florida panhandle, up through Georgia, on my way back to Arkansas. I mistakenly assumed they would tell me about panhandle attractions, when I asked what would be an enjoyable place to visit along my route. Instead, they said their favorite spot along my proposed route, would be the town of Thomasville, Georgia. I had never heard of Thomasville, Georgia, but I read up on it via the Internet, and planned to make a slight detour on my route, so I could visit it. As my friend and I drove along the highway leading to the town, I was in awe of the acre-after-acre of pecan trees! Although the ladies I met grew pine trees, it was readily apparent this area had the necessary climate and soil conditions, to grow some mighty fine TREES!
However, the plantations of pine trees and pecan trees, do not garner even a tiny portion of the public's attention, as does THE BIG OAK TREE! This is probably the most "historic" tree in the entire Thomas County area. Taking up almost an entire city block, this incredible tree boasts hundreds of visitors on a regular basis. Because of its gigantic size, and visitors' desires to have their photo made with it, arrangements have been made such that visitors can stand beside the sign describing the tree, press a certain "technology button", and a camera mounted on a telephone pole, very high up across the street, will snap your photo! Then you can see the photo on the Thomasville, Georgia website www.ThomasvilleGa.com! Perhaps the need for such an elevated camera was made obvious, whenever President Eisenhower came to see the tree, and "trespassed" on a home owner's porch across the street, in order to capture the entire circumference of the tree in a photo! (Photos from that first trip to Thomasville can be seen in this blog's archives, on the post dated April 19, 2016)
Very close to The Big Oak, one can take a tour of a most unusual historic home. It had more corners in it than any house I have ever visited! I notice corners because, when involved in building our first home, my father advised us that the two-story hexagon room we had planned, to take advantage of a beautiful mountain view, was a bad idea, because every time you added a corner when building a house, you increased the cost of the construction by hundreds of dollars. He would have been "aghast" at the number of corners in the Lapham-Patterson House!! However, the original builder of the home was involved in the timber industry, and wanted the house to be a "showcase" of wood construction---so the more corners, the better! Learn more about the Lapham-Patterson House at www.thomascountyhistory.org
This is the first home I have ever visited, that had a staircase above the fireplace. Plus, as you can see from this photo of our guide standing beneath the staircase balcony, such a design required that there be TWO chimneys leading from the fireplace---another example of the extravagance of the original builder. Also, notice the triangular design made on the floor, by using especially cut wood , and different varieties of trees.
There are so many scenic spots in Thomasville, that regardless of the direction you point your camera, you can find a picturesque vignette. The one in this photo is a "pocket park" in the downtown area, ideally suited for husbands who prefer to "sit a spell", rather than tag along behind their shop-a-holic wife!
If you check Trip Advisor, you will see that a restaurant in downtown Thomasville that has excellent reviews, is Jonah's www.jonahsfish.com Our guide told us that the place is so popular, that there is usually a bit of a wait to get a table, especially if you have a large group. However, the Thomasville CVB rep had prevailed upon the management to come up with a plan that would get our group seated and fed, in a timely manner, since we were on such a tight schedule.
We only waited a very short time, which I found totally enjoyable as it gave me an opportunity to check out the location, the menu, and take photos!
The section of the menu shown in this photo is "upside down", because "upside down" is the direction the owner's life took at the time he started this restaurant. He tells the story of how he was sitting in church, listening to a sermon, based on the Bible story of Jonah. He realized, that , like Jonah, he had been "running" from what God was calling him to do. He prayed for direction, and the result was the restaurant we were dining in! That is why it is called "Jonah's"!! I am using this image as a visual aid for my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verse that says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:16) The success of Jonah's Restaurant, and all their downtown partners, shows that this Georgia man's humble prayer was both powerful and very effective!! ( Another "God-moment coincidence" occurred when I opened up the Bible devotional app on my phone during my time in Thomasville, and yes, it was based on the Old Testament Bible story of Jonah!) This "right side up" photo shows that the founder of Jonah's is doing what the memory verse says---confessing sins, praying, and receiving the powerful, effective healing that God's Word promises!
I like to include lots of salad greens with my entree, so when the waitress brought this delicious-looking piece of salmon on a "bed of lettuce", I was delighted !
After lunch, our group traveled to Pebble Hill Plantation, on the outskirts of Thomasville, to walk off a few of those calories we had for lunch, and to do so in a gorgeous Southern venue!
This photo shows the approach that visitors to Pebble Hill Plantation would have used, during the estate's early beginnings, when travel by horse and carriage was prominent.
A more recent addition to the property includes a brick serpentine wall, modeled after the one designed for the University of Virginia campus, by former American President Thomas Jefferson. (See a previous blog, dated April 6, 2017, I wrote about University of Virginia architecture)
The Visitor Center and Administrative office complex opens up to a lovely courtyard, that is often scheduled for weddings and other special events.
A water feature provides the pleasing sound of a babbling brook to the serenity of the courtyard.
Giant spheres of twinkling lights, hang from the massive oak trees in the courtyard, and make for a romantic atmosphere during the twilight hours.
Inside the historic home, the visitor will get to see numerous rare, original Audubon prints. The previous owners of Pebble Hill Plantation were friends and contemporaries of the Audubon family, which accounts for their prominence throughout the home.
This long passageway, with vaulted ceilings and symmetrical archways, leads to another addition to the original living space.
One of the guestrooms in the home, as well as the bed that is in it, is famous and historic, because it is the bed used by American President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when he was a visitor to the plantation, back in the last century. If sleeping on the same plantation grounds used by a former U.S. President is something you would like to do, please note that overnight lodging is available at Pebble Hill Plantation, in addition to its availability for wedding venues, and other special events. Check out their website www.PebbleHill.com for more details.
Our group was treated to a wonderful tasting experience at Pebble Hill Plantation, that was made possible by the founder and owner of Sweet Grass Dairy ( www.SweetGrassDairy.com ) of Thomasville. The family that started this business, wanted to establish a "back to the earth", sustainable, artisan cheese creamery, and their efforts have been very successful! Yum!
I want to recognize some of the folks who made this outstanding experience in Thomasville, Georgia, possible. They are an example ofthe power of partnerships, and I hope you will check out their websites for more information. ExploreGeorgia.org www.thomasvillega.com www.sweetgrassdairy.com www.grouptravelleader.com These ladies represent an area of the South that provided a very beneficial familiarization tour, and gave all of the participants "MILES OF SMILES"!! Tricia