Columbus, GA – The Lion House (also known as Hoxey-Cargill House) dates to the 1840s. The history of this house – it has it all! There’s a secret tunnel, ghosts, and gold found in a window during renovations. I couldn’t wait to learn more about the history of this stately home.
Built c1840 for Dr. Thomas Hoxey, this home is considered an Egyptian take on Greek Revival. Where did it get the name Lion House? For the 2 Nubian lions that have always graced the front of the house – one awake, one not. Dr Hoxey, a well known physician, had a Philadelphia architect design this home. It was built to impress, nearly 200 years later it still impresses in a commercial area of Columbus.
The Egyptian details on the house are also inside – originally the floors were painted red in the downstairs hallway. And interestingly – gold was found in the house! It had been hidden in a window casement, and was found during renovations shortly after the Civil War!
The area where the home is located began to evolve from a residential area to a more commercial area. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, the house still showed its former grandeur. This March 1934 photo shows the intricate details around the door.
There are so many interesting stories on this house – let’s start with the secret tunnel. Located under a starway to the basement, it’s been filled – so we can’t go exploring! There are several theories on why the tunnel and where it went….many say it went to the Chattahoochee River, others say it went to a nearby hotel. Most agree it was used as an escape during times of danger. It’s said that late in the Civil War mules were hidden here!
There’s ghost stories too – one that I found more about were the ghosts of Creek Indians who were buried in the back yard of the house. Dr Hoxley led attacks on Indians back in the 1830s so anything’s possible I suppose!
Over the years the house slipped into decline – at one point being carved up into 9 apartments! This photo from 1971 shows Lion House when it was an apartment building – see the vacancy sign on the on the base of the far right column?
Back in 1986, things looked grim for this home. There was a fire on the second floor, and the roof was destroyed. Thanks to a lot of efforts from local preservation, and later being sold and restored, this beautiful home shines again!
Lion House is just one of many amazing homes in Columbus. There are a couple of posts on Columbus homes that I have published before:
Thanks so much for reading the blog – I appreciate it! If you use Instagram, I post photos there daily @oldgeorgiahomes.