Community History

Meadow Garden uncovers new details amid preservation projects

Meadow Garden exterior. Photo courtesy Meadow Garden Facebook page.

Key pieces of Meadow Garden’s history are being unveiled as it undergoes a multi-step preservation and restoration project.

One of the area’s oldest structures, Meadow Garden was built by George Walton, one of the youngest signers of the Declaration of Independence. The founding father represented Georgia in the Continental Congress and was also one Georgia’s early governors.

Built in 1791, Meadow Garden has stood in Augusta through four centuries. For over 12 decades, the Walton home has been open as a house museum, showcasing the residence’s historical value since 1901.

Ransom Schwerzler, director of Meadow Garden, said that as current restorations are underway, there is much to learn about the house from the house itself.

“We’re sort of like a lab for preservation at the moment,” she said.

Ransom Schwerzler talks about some of the findings uncovered in the restoration process. Rakiyah Lenon/Augusta Good News

With open walls and original hardwood floors displaying the foundational structures of the house, experts and the public alike can see the historical significance of the house.

“People are often really excited to see things in progress, and we’re excited to talk about the way that progress works,” she said.

Schwerzler emphasized the importance of taking the time to understand what each part of the house means. She said they have approached the restoration process with caution and attention to ensure historical accuracy.

“So much of this is them putting together little clues,” she said. “It’s like we find this clue, that clue and the other clue and try to put that together to try to tell as much as we can about the property, the people and everything. We always try to do that.”

Schwerzler added, “Every little clue kind of gives us another piece of what the house was like.”

Preservationists saw how a staircase was present in the original home. In the 1800s, that staircase was removed. During the restoration project, Schwerzler said this discovery was supported by evidence the preservationists were able to see when looking at wood in the home. See more here.

“They could see the ghost line of the wood going down,” she said. “They saw the outline of the steps… the stairwell curved down to a certain extent and they could see the thickness of each step.”

One of the most interesting discoveries was a piece of original plaster from when the home was built in the 1700s.

Ransom Schwerzler shows some of the items found during the restoration. Rakiyah Lenon/Augusta Good News

“That is one of most important things in the entire house,” Schwerzler said, referencing comments from one of the preservationists. “They’ve defined that that’s original to 1791. It survived a long time.”

As a preservation company continues to work on the home, they uncovered a number of items and artifacts from inside the walls of the house as well.

Schwerzler said as they discover more details, it helps them to better understand the lives of the people who lived there.

“Every time we learn more things about the house, it affects how we work to interpret the house,” she said. “The history of the house informs the history of the people, and the history of the people informs the history of the house. It all works together.”

Schwerzler said various restoration projects are planned that will continue to ensure the house remains in great condition, though they are waiting for permits to resume some work. Part of preserving the building will involve maintaining constant temperature and humidity levels, which will prevent the house from shifting as time goes on.

Meadow Garden is open, despite area road closures due to ongoing road work on 13th Street.

Meadow Garden is located at 1320 Independence Drive in Augusta. Tours are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday tours are available by appointment.

Correspondent Rakiyah Lenon is the editor-in-chief of Augusta University’s Bell Ringer. Subscribe to the Augusta Good News’ newsletter here.

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