Augusta, Ga- Richmond County – Looking at the DeLaigle House today, it’s hard to imagine that it was nearly demolished 20 years ago to create a parking lot! This house has a lot of stories to tell – including an 1875 duel, conversion to apartments, and being the D.A.s Office…
DeLaigle House was built in 1873 for Mary Clark DeLaigle, a 33 year old widow with two small children. She had the house built with the idea of taking in boarders to help make ends meet. Looking at the large scale of this house, it would easily accommodate boarders and still retain privacy for the family. The DeLaigle’s entertained in high style here, and are mentioned often in the Society section of the newspaper.
1875 – A Rumor & A Duel
By 1875, there were rumors that Mary had a romance going with one of her boarders, a young Irishman named Charles Tilley (or Tilly). This was quite the scandal in those days The DeLaigle family was prominent in Augusta. Tilley discovered that a man named George Rafcliffe had been spreading this rumor. He confronted Ratfliffe and demanded to know his source. That got nowhere, so Tilly challenged him to a duel. Dueling was illegal in Georgia, so they went across the river to South Carolina. Charles Tilley was mortally wounded and died the next day at the DeLaigle House.
The family was grateful for Tilley defending the honor of Mary. Charles Tilley is buried in their family plot under a large Celtic cross. Mary DeLaigle left Augusta a few years later.
The Vason & Salinas Years (1880s-1940s)
The DeLaigles may have moved, but the house continued to be the home of prominent residents for several decades. By the late 1880s, the Vason family was living here. Mrs. Anthony C. Vason, also a widow, lived here with her children – Rebie, Mary, and Turner. Rebie married Anthony Salinas, President of the Augusta Cotton Exchange. They lived in the house for many years. By 1920, they had taken in a couple of boarders. I’m sure there was plenty of room for them!
The house was owned by Rebie Salinas until the 1940s. I believe she rented the house out during the 1930s and 1940s, as she and her son were living in North Carolina during this time.
The DeLaigle House Changes (1950s-1990s)
By 1950s, times had changed and Greene Street wasn’t the premier residential street it had once been. In addition, the City/County Municipal Building appeared across the street from the house. In 1950, restauranteur James Sanford had purchased the house. There’s a generation that still fondly remembers Sanford’s Chicken Coop Restaurant! It was located a few blocks up the street from the house. He lived here a few years, and big changes were coming.
DeLaigle House was converted to 12 apartments in the 1950s, and called the Virginia Apartments. It operated as an apartment house for about 15 years or so. Then a really big change…it became the District Attorney’s Office! Remember, the Municipal Building is just across the street.
These years were tough on this house. The old house needed a lot of upkeep – and the structure got into such bad shape, the District Attorney moved to a new location. So, it’s 2002 and we have a vacant building that’s in bad shape. And there’s talk to demolish the house to create additional parking. Things are looking grim.
News of the potential demolition got people’s attention. Through the efforts of Historic Augusta, the building was sold and rehabilitated. Today it’s been divided into offices, and here are a few inside photos:
Thanks so much for hanging on through the story of the DeLaigle House – there was quite a bit to unpack here! Hope you enjoyed learning more about this house, and it’s being saved from demolition. Appreciate you reading the blog, thank you for your time.