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Harris-Pearson-Walker House

Ezekial Harris House Photo 1

Pearson-Walker-Harris House
Rebecca Rogers

The architecturally distinguished Harris-Pearson-Walker House was the first house built in the Village of Harrisburg near Augusta and the residence of its founder, Ezekiel Harris, from 1797 until about 1807. The Pearson-Walker family then owned the home from 1809 until 1873. When the house was built, tobacco was the primary cash crop in Georgia. Liberal land grants and rich soil attracted tobacco planters who had depleted their farmlands farther north. Towns sprang up around the tobacco inspection stations and warehouses.  Ezekiel Harris came to this area of Georgia from Edgefield County, South Carolina, to establish his own tobacco warehouse. In 1794, Harris bought 323½ acres of the White House Tract and built his home in 1797. On the rest of the land, he laid out a village he named after himself – Harrisburg. He hoped that this new village would rival Augusta in the tobacco trade.

The house is a rare example of the Georgian style of architecture popular in the 1700s, with elements of the transitional style between Georgian and Federal popular after the Revolutionary War. Structural evidence suggests that the house was constructed in two stages, with the eastern side of the building erected later than the western side. The most striking architectural feature is the front entranceway with a design similar to those in Palladio Londonensis. The door is flanked with fluted pilasters on pedestals supporting an entablature ornamented with a pulvinated frieze. More subtle architectural features are the beaded clapboards and chamfered porch supports, expensive decorative details that indicate Mr. Harris had considerable wealth.

The gambrel roof, as seen in English handbooks after 1733, extends to form the roofs of the front and rear porches. The low 68°-slope is characteristic of this period, when the tendency was to lower roof heights. Unusual in southern Georgian style, the gambrel roof was predominately seen farther north in the Virginia and Delaware areas.

The design of the interior represents the fashion of the late 18th century for plaster walls rather than the earlier paneled ones. The trim itself preserves the academic forms typical of the pre-Revolution period. The large room on the west, the parlor, is enriched with dog-ear motifs on the mantle and doorway. The mantle has a pulvinated frieze and dentil molding, and the breaks on either side of the entablature are simplifications of the end consoles illustrated in Swan’s British Architect, a popular builder’s guide of the period. Another unusual feature is the arched ceiling of the hall and differing wainscoting on the first floor rooms.

Plan your visit

The Harris-Pearson-Walker House, now known as the Ezekiel Harris House, is located at 1822 Broad St. within the Harrisburg—West End Historic District.  The house is open Tuesday through Friday by appointment only and Saturday, 10:00am to 4:30pm. Call 706-737-2820 or visit the website. The house has been documented under the name, White House, by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.

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