Although an imposing structure for its day, the inn was anything but luxurious. The Joe Brown room, named for for Joseph E. Brown, who was Georgia’s Governor from 1857-1865 and a U.S. Senator from 1880-1891, offered the inn’s most luxurious accommodations. Brown and his new bride spent their honeymoon in this room and probably paid about $1 per night – which would equate to about $100 per night today. Despite their status, the renowned guests endured much the same rough conditions as the common travelers. The only heat in winter cam from fireplaces and the inn had no running water, so guests had to use the pitcher and basin on the washstand to clean up. A chamber pot in the Joe Brown room was available if nature called in the middle of the night, but guests in the other rooms had to trek to the outhouses.
Most travelers who stayed at Traveler’s Rest were men; they spent the night in the common room, which was furnished with four beds. Here, for 25 cents, they could have half a bed! Visitors often had to share a bed with a complete stranger and hope for a good night’s sleep. Among the authentic furnishings found in this room is a bootjack – a device that helped men take off their high leather boots, since lying in bed with boots on was prohibited. Visitors are encouraged to touch the straw and feather-filled mattresses on display. Most Georgians of the time preferred to sleep on straw in the summer and feathers in the winter, although if the straw was not been replaced regularly, they ran the risk of being bit by bedbugs.
Unlike most nineteenth century kitchens, which were located outdoors in order to minimize the risk of fire burning down the house, the Traveler’s Rest kitchen was in the basement. Slaves who did the cooking climbed up and down an outside staircase to serve guests. The bathtub was also located in the basement, as it was the only place hot water could be provided, but this was rarely a problem since most people only took a bath once a month.
Traveler’s Rest was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Nearly 90% of the heart pine used in the original construction is still in place and a good portion of the furnishings on display are the original pieces from the 1800’s, many of which were hand-crafted by Caleb T. Shaw, a renowned furniture maker from Massachusetts.
Hours of operation appear to vary seasonally; so it may be wise to call 706-886-2256 to check the current schedule. According to the website, starting July 1, 2009, Traveler’s Rest Historic Site will only be open the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults. $3.50 for seniors (62+), and $2.50 for youths under aged 6-18 (children under 6 free).
Photos courtesy of Barbara Weibel
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