Sparta, GA – Hancock County –  Sparta has so many amazing old homes, and this one has a great story.  The Harley-Harris-Rives House was built around 1845 as a wedding gift!  This 6,000 sq ft home on a raised basement has been fully restored to its original grandeur.  Home to several prominent Sparta families, there’s some interesting history here – both in the old days, and today.

Harley-Harris-Rives House
Harley-Harris-Rives House, fully restored

The Harley Years (1845-1870)

Around 1845 this home was built as a wedding gift for William Isaiah Harley and his wife Mary Battle of nearby Powelton.  Her father had the house built for the newlyweds.  William Harley, a Baptist minister, hailed from South Carolina.  He and Mary met at a Baptist Association years earlier, and when he moved to the area, they married.  We visited Powelton Baptist Church earlier this year, site of the first Georgia Baptist Convention.  Mary Battle came from a distinguished family, with her uncle William Rabun served as Governor of Georgia (Rabun County is named for him).  They lived in this home until William’s death in 1870.

A Period of Decline (1870-1896)

After the Harley family, the house began to decline once it became a rental house.  In fact, one tenant kept their cows in the basement of this house!  Luckily the house was purchased by the Harris family, who owned the house for about 50 years.

The Harris Years (1896-1947)

Moses Wiley Harris bought the home in 1896 for his family.  They had a farm outside of town, and wanted to be closer to schools for their 9 (yes, nine!) children.  Mr. Harris was a Banker, and shareholder of Georgia Railroad & Banking Company.  It took a long time to repair the house from 25 years of neglect, but the house was brought back to it’s original splendor.  The Harris family were known far and wide for their gracious hospitality.

Harley-Harris-Rives House, 1950s to Present Day

George and Sarah Rives lived here many years and were well respected around town.  They were great custodians of this historic home.  The house went into decline after changing ownership, and at one time was owned by a pair of house flippers.  They decided not to take on the project, and the house was later sold to Robert and Suzie Currey in 2002 – you may remember him as the founder of Storehouse Furniture that used to be in several cities.  The house underwent a multi-year restoration, and it took 4 years before the Currey’s moved in.

Early 2000s (photo from old Sparta Tour brochure)

The Currey’s have been very active in the area; in fact a couple of businesses have started around the property. When the Curreys decided to try and grow vegetables year-round behind the home, this grew over time as more became involved in the project.  It’s now known as Elm Street Gardens.   Nearby, an old cotton warehouse has been repurposed, now the home of Sparta Mushrooms.

Thanks so much for visiting the blog and the history of the Harley-Harris-Rives house in Sparta!



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