National News

Gwinnett preparing to save historic Hudson-Nash House

Posted August 22

— If modern day Gwinnettians want to find a story that weaves county, state and U.S. history together, they don't have to look much further than Thomas P. Hudson.

Hudson was a local postmaster and general store owner as well as a state legislator in the mid-19th century. He also played a role in Georgia's transition from being a member of the U.S. to being a member of the Confederacy just before the Civil War.

"He was just so significant to our history because of everything he did for our county and the state," Gwinnett Historical Society Co-president Betty Warbington said.

More of Hudson's story will soon be open to the public for viewing because the house he had built in about 1840, now known as the Hudson-Nash House, on Five Forks Trickum Road has been donated to Gwinnett County for preservation.

County officials plan to move it across the street to the Yellow River Post Office property where it can be restored and preserved and help fill out the post office's story.

The donation is an important move considering The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation placed the house on its Places in Peril list last year. The property was placed on the list, the Trust said, because it was threatened by developments that were encroaching on it.

The news that the house was going to be saved and preserved as part of the park was welcome news to Georgia Trust President and CEO Mark C. McDonald.

"The Georgia Trust is pleased that a preservation solution has been found for the Hudson-Nash House," he said. "We will continue to work with Gwinnett County to assist them with their efforts to further enhance the Yellow River Post Office historical park."

Warbington said the house is one of three major properties the historical society has been working on in recent years. The others are the Fort Daniel site at Hog Mountain and the Promised Land property in far southern Gwinnett. Both of those properties have also been acquired by the county in recent years so they could be preserved as well.

"The historical society has been working on this property for about 20 years," Warbington said. "We knew after all that with all of the development that was going on around it, there was a chance we could lose the house. But, with Charlotte Nash as chairman, she's really been working on preserving a lot of the county's history."

When county officials accepted the donation in April, Nash told the Daily Post, "I am excited about the family's decision to offer this house to Gwinnett County as a donation and look forward to its relocation across Five Forks Trickum Road to the property where the historic Yellow River Post Office is located.

"Fortunately, we have been able to preserve a number of historic properties around Gwinnett County and are happy to add the Hudson-Nash House to the group."

History of the house

and its occupants

The house is named for the two families that have owned it for much of its existence. The more recent owners, the Nash family, are the ones who donated it to the county.

The Gwinnett Historical Society lists the house on its tour of important sites from Gwinnett's early history that the group feels visitors should see on a driving tour around the county. The entry gives a little bit of historical perspective on Hudson's story.

Hudson operated the Yellow River Post Office as both a post office and general store from the 1840s until his death. He was also a member of the Georgia General Assembly off and on from 1853 to 1862, when he died. In 1845, Hudsonand two other men were picked to serve as road commissioners tasked with laying out a stagecoach road from Stone Mountain or the railroad station in Decatur to Lawrenceville.

The road went by his home, a precursor to what is now Five Forks Trickum Road, and National Register records indicate he became postmaster not long after he was asked to pick the road's route.

"Of course, him having a store in that area, he made sure the road went by his store so people would certainly have a stop," said Kim Hudson Hall, Thomas Hudson's third-great-granddaughter.

His place in U.S. history, however, comes from the fact that he was one of three delegates who represented Gwinnett County during the convention in 1861 at which the state voted to secede from the United States. Hudson voted to stay part of the Union rather than secede.

"Although he opposed secession, once the war began he supported it wholeheartedly," the historical society wrote on its website, www.gwinnetths.org.

Hall said Hudson was loyal to Georgia, which is why he supported the state during the Civil War despite not wanting to break with the U.S.

"Once the state moved in that direction, he did what I guess he thought was right, during the time period, to support the state," Hall said.

The Georgia Trust said Hudson "allowed a local guard group to practice on his property and provided his community with food and necessities during the Civil War." The annual Living History Event at the Yellow River Post Office echoes that history by giving visitors a chance to learn what it was like to join the Army and go through training during the Civil War.

The Nash family became owners of the property in the 1870s when Lewis Nash - who was also a former state legislator from Gwinnett - bought the house. It then become the property of William T. Nash, who added the house's gabled rooms and porch, in about 1880, according to the National Register's records.

The property continued to be used for farming, both by the Nash family and sharecroppers, well into the 20th century.

Gwinnett's plans

for the house

The county was initially hesitant when it came to talking about donation because they wanted to secure the house before they made an announcement.

That has changed now that a fence has been put up around the house. Officials are now opening up more about the donation and what it means for Gwinnett.

Charlotte Nash and Deputy County Administrator Phil Hoskins highlighted the donation as they discussed the county's efforts to preserve historical structures during an interview with the Daily Post in July to discuss plans for the county's upcoming bicentennial.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the (Nash) family for being able to donate that house to us," said Charlotte Nash, who isn't related to the family who donated the house. "Most of it is in amazingly good condition. I mean ironically, it's the later additions to it that are in worse shape than the original house was.

"We're very grateful to the family for making that decision. That made it easier for us to make the decision to pay for the moving of the house - and it's nice that we have property just across Five Forks Trickum for it."

Preserving the house at the Yellow River Post Office park is a unique opportunity for the county to preserve another piece of the story of someone who had a front row seat to the buildup to the Civil War.

In addition to being highlighted by the Georgia Trust, the Plantation Plain-style house was also placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The register's report on the house says its design was common in national folk architecture, and a one-story addition to the front of the home was added in about 1911.

"The Hudson-Nash house is significant in architecture because it is an excellent example of an antebellum Plantation Plain type house in its central core as well as later adaptive changes which reflect a Vernacular Victorian style influence," the register's report states.

"Both architectural classifications are important individually, however, together they form an ensemble of a typical plantation house that has been in continuous use for over 150 years. The house not only illustrates the two design stages but also reflects the style preferences of Thomas P. Hudson and William Nash."

The house is the latest historical site around Gwinnett that county leaders have taken over so they can be used to teach the public about the area's history.

Since only the house is being donated - not the land it sits on - county Community Services Director Tina Fleming said that is why it will be moved across the street to the Yellow River Post Office site.

County officials first wanted to secure the house, which is why there is now a chain link fence around it. County spokesman Joe Sorenson said the move could happen early next year.

Once it's on the post office site, which the county already operates as a historical park, it will be restored to its 1840s appearance.

"It will be (used for) interpretive - historic interpretive learning," Fleming said. "It fits right into the same time frame."

News of the donation as well as the county's plans for the site have been welcome news for local historians and history aficionados who feel the Yellow River Post Office site would be a good place for it. Residential developments are encroaching on the house's current site to the point that it is surrounded on about two sides by a construction site.

"That's going to make story complete down there at the Yellow River Post Office," Gwinnett Historical Society Co-president Beverly Paff said.

Hall she is happy that the house will be preserved because it allows a bit of her family history, as well as history from the area, to be shared with future generations of Gwinnett residents. She said the Hudson family, during the Civil War particularly, took on a role of caretakers for other families in the area, making sure people had food at a time when some commodities were scarce, as well as news about what was going on with the war.

Those are lessons modern-day Gwinnett residents can learn from, she said.

"It's a really good thing that the county is willing to take on historical properties and maintain those for history purposes because for a long time, they weren't interested in preserving history in our county, and I think it's important because we learn from those things," Hall said. "I think one of the things that Mr. Hudson and his family did, that we've learned, is that they took care of each other and their community.

"When someone was hungry, they gave them food, such as chicken or eggs from their farm, or vegetables."

Donation came

ahead of upcoming

milestone birthday

While there is a lot of history in the house's story, there might also be a deeper historical significance - both in terms of 18th century and modern history - of the timing of the donation.

For starters, it came on the heels of the county's acquisition of the Promised Land property at the end of 2016. County officials are working on plans to use the Promised Land property, also known as the Maguire-Livsey House, as historical education site, but Charlote Nash and Hoskins said a decision has not been made to which period it will be restored.

The bigger modern day significance of the Hudson-Nash House donation and the Promised Land acquisition, however, is that it all comes as the county prepares to celebrate Gwinnett's bicentennial in 2018. County and community leaders are eager to use the occasion to recognize two centuries of local history.

"It just shows the importance of all of these sites, and the importance of Gwinnett's history, that we've got all of these places here in the county," Warbington said.

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