Commerce, Georgia – Jackson County – The Shankle House is the second oldest house in Commerce, and home to one of the pioneer families of the city for over 100 years. Seaborn Shankle was a merchant, building a store across the street from this house – and there’s a family cemetery on the property. Lots of interesting history here!
Seaborn Shankle (1825-1885) built the house in 2 stages. Around 1840, a simple one story cottage was built. In the 1870s, the 2 story part of the house we see from the street was added. This 1979 photo shows the 2 parts of the house:
Seaborn Shankle operated a mercantile store, and the business grew a lot in the 1870s once the railroad came to Commerce – the house got the big addition at the same time. There store was located close to the railroad, and close to the train depot.
Seaborn Shankle passed away in 1885, and his widow, Victoria Park Shankle (1841-1917) took over running the mercantile business. This was a bold move back in those days, when few women ran business! She did such a good job with the store and other investments, that the family was even more prosperous. The local newspaper had a front page article when she passed away in August 1917:
Inside the house, there are 4 rooms over 4 rooms with a wide hallway. The downstairs rooms have plaster ceilings and crown molding, where the upstairs rooms do not. This was normal in those days – spend the money on the “public” parts of the house, and keep the family areas simpler.
The house continued to evolve over the years. Victoria Shankle added the side porch to the house. Famous author Olive Ann Burns, who wrote “Cold Sassy Tree” grew up here.
The house was divided into apartments for a period of time in the 1940s. This happened a lot, there was such a housing shortage after the end of World War 2 in 1945. The house didn’t stay as apartments long, and was converted back to what we see today. In 1979, the house became the first property in Jackson County to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Shankle House is in an old map of Commerce – and you can see below the buildings that no longer stand.
Lucky for us, the Shankle House remains as part of the city’s heritage! I always enjoy seeing this house decorated for Christmas – thanks so much for reading the blog!