History

The Spier House was once a grand Antebellum plantation house surrounded by acres of farmland.  It was built in 1851 by Allison Spier, a successful politician and planter.  Destroyed by fire 20 to 30 years ago, all that remains of it today is an archaeological site of three granite chimneys, a stone and brick-lined basement, a well, and the ruins of three outbuildings.  

The site was first identified in 2001 when the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) proposed to form a new four-way intersection at Graham and Fayetteville roads and Oakley Industrial Boulevard near Fairburn, Georgia.  In late 2003 and early 2004, GDOT carried out archaeological testing and historical research of the Spier House Site, recorded in the Georgia Archaeological Site Files as 9FU411.  On behalf of GDOT, New South Associates of Stone Mountain, Georgia conducted a more in-depth archaeological investigation and an architectural historical study.

The Spier House ruins contain some unusual features for a 19th century house in Georgia, including:  1) a basement, 2) a stacked hearth chimney in the basement and floor above, and 3) the chimney masonry style.  Constructing a residence with a basement was extremely rare in rural Georgia.  In addition, most early Georgia houses did not contain a chimney with stacked hearths.  Chimneys built with cut granite were not unusual, but the immense size of the slabs and exquisite craftsmanship of the Spier House chimneys is quite distinctive.    

Therefore, the Spier House site is filled with many interesting mysteries.  Why was a basement built, and what was the basement used for?  Was it a living quarters?  Did they prepare food in the basement?  Why were some the basement walls made from granite and others brick?  Where did the granite for the chimneys come from?  Did the masonry reflect a regional style, an ethnic background, or the mason’s individual design?   Were there practical reasons for the basement and chimney types?  Or, was Spier showcasing his wealth and status?  The answers to these questions have come from gathering all the pieces of the puzzle and putting them together using architectural history studies, local and oral histories, Spier’s life history, and archaeology at the Spier House site.

Architecture

Archaeology

Methods/Links