Augusta, GA – There are so many beautiful old homes around Augusta!  The William T. Wheless House caught my eye, and I had to find out more about this grand home.  These old houses have a story to tell, and this one is no exception!

Built around 1872 for William T. and Fannie P. Wheless, this elaborate home shows their status in Augusta.  It’s especially impressive as this was just a few years after the Civil War, and times were tough.

Wheless House – the roof was altered around 1890 to it’s current appearance

Learning about William T. Wheless, it’s amazing the number of businesses he was involved in.  Most well-known as a Banker, he was also a cotton merchant, director of a large mill, etc.  He owned a large cotton warehouse on Reynolds Street, and served as President of Sibley & Wheless Cotton Merchants.  He started up several banks in Augusta, including Manufacturer’s Bank (1873) and City Bank of Augusta in 1881.  He’s most well known for his time as President of Commercial Bank of Augusta.  A prominent citizen would want a home to reflect this!

1870s Interior (not Wheless House, but gives us an idea)
Another 1870s Interior sample. More is more!

One of my favorite features of the home is the small 1 story part on the left side of the house.  It’s most likely a later addition, just love these details.

Wheless House, the 1880s

Wheless House has seen a lot of history – if only walls could talk!  Mr. Wheless was part of the original group of investors who built Sibley Manufacturing Company, a huge textile mill on the Augusta Canal (and it’s still standing).  He chaired the original meeting in 1880 to decide if there was interest in building the mill.  It took 2 years to complete this massive structure.  Here are some older photos of it from Library of Congress.

Wheless House, the 1890s

A lot of change occurred here in the 1890s.  William T. Wheless passed away at age 57 in 1892. His widow, Fannie, and their 3 children remained in the home.  A big change that occurred during the 1890s was changing the roof to its current appearance.  The mansard roof is not one we see many of here in Georgia.

Trying to research more about Fannie Wheless, I was surprised to stumble on a published letter of hers.  Back in 1893, she wrote a letter to her Insurance Company President and thanked him for their prompt payment on a $5,000 Insurance Policy.  That’s about $140,000 today.

The 1900s to Today

There were many different residents of Wheless House throughout the 1900s.  The house was rented for a period of time, and fell into decline as this area fell out of favor.  Lucky for us, the house was restored in the 1970s and repurposed as a lawyer’s office.  I put this into a graphic and figured it would be easier to follow all the changes in the 1900s:

This is just one of the Augusta homes I will be featuring on the blog.  Historic Augusta has information on many homes and preservation efforts in Augusta.  Thanks so much for reading the history of the Wheless House, I sure appreciate it!

 

Resources:

Library of Congress, Sibley Manufacturing Photos

Historic Augusta – Walking Tour

US Census – 1910

“The Insurance Economist”, Volume 16, No 112 P. 24

Augusta Social Register – 1920

Augusta City Directory – 1937

 

 

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