Location: 765 N Main St. in Ashburn, Georgia
Date: February 20, 2021
Ashburn’s Historic Driving Tour Stop #6
This home, sometimes known as the McKenzie Home or one of the Shingler homes, was built for Clyde Shingler McKenzie by her father J.S. Shingler, Sr. to celebrate her marriage to G.C. McKenzie. It stayed in the McKenzie/Shingler family until 1980.
It was designed by Macon architect P.E. Dennis of Dennis & Dennis Architecture Firm. He had his hand in designing many of Turner County’s beloved buildings such as the Methodist Church and the Courthouse. The home represents the Neoclassical Revival period. Constructed in 1908, the building originally featured a multi-hipped, red Ludowici clay tile roof. (The roof has been replaced with shingles due to a lack of experienced craftsmen in the area to work on the roof but a similar color was selected to maintain the appearance of the red tile.)
One thing of note is that the porte cochère was enclosed in 1914 to create a “sleeping porch.” The home is evidenced as Victorian with the use of stained glass as well as the generous use of dark woodwork throughout the home. One should also note the large pocket doors and high vaulted ceilings (16 feet high in the study).
The architectural significance of this home cannot be forgotten. As you can see in the original house plans, there is little change from the original design aside from the enclosed porte cochère.
Architectural Plans by Peter E. Dennis of 765 N Main St in Ashburn, Georgia. Courtesy of the private papers of Sandra Ellis.
A private tour was given to the Turner County Project on April 19, 2022. These photos below are from that tour.
The McKenzie Family
Gordon Columbus “G.C.” McKenzie
(February 10, 1885 – February 25, 1958)
“He was wise in business, charitable to all and his gracious manner to all caused him to enjoy the friendship of both young and old… Since the early days of the community, Dr. McKenzie served as a leader in almost every phase of the life of the city giving his time to education, patriotic, business and civic affairs…”
Wiregrass Farmer and Stockman (March 6, 1958)
Although a native of Byromville in Dooly County, Georgia, Gordon Columbus “G.C.” McKenzie was a fixture of Turner County. Born to Henry C. and Catherine McKenzie in 1885 and named after General/Governor/Senator Gordon, despite his namesake and his father’s disappointment, G.C. pursued a medical career. He attended the Augusta Medical Department at the University of Georgia for 2 years but took a 2-year break due to money issues. Eventually, G.C. did a term at South at Suwannee, Tennessee, and ended up at Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons (now known as Emory University) where he graduated with a degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1906.
He moved back to South Georgia to the small city of Arabi, Georgia to practice. On April 24, 1907, he married Beverly Clyde Shingler, daughter of prominent pioneer citizen James Simon “J.S.” Shingler and Emma Baldwin Shingler. According to a 1978 written account from his daughter Emily where G.C. gave the “story of his life,” in 1906, Mr. Shingler and associates had planned to build a cotton mill in Bainbridge, GA and he wanted G.C. to practice medicine there at the mill but it didn’t work out.
Three years after moving back, he left Arabi and turned his sights on Ashburn. He practiced medicine and did the farm loan business on the side. He eventually gave up practicing medicine to do the loan business full time. It was here that his involvement in the community took off. It may be easier to mention what he was not involved in because he had his hands in several pots. In 1912, he launched Shingler-McKenzie Hardware with his in-laws, J.S. Shingler Sr., J.S. Shingler Jr., and Clinton Shingler. In 1919, he sold his portion and went into the automobile business.
But it was his activism with Ashburn that really gave G.C. McKenzie a name. Some of his involvement included:
- Organizers of the Turner County Bank and was president of the said bank for several years from 1912 until ?.
- President of the Ashburn Board of Trade.
- Chairman of the Ashburn School Board of Education for 30 years
- On the Ashburn City Council from 1912 to 1916 when J.B. Bozeman and Mr. Betts died.
- Aided in the creation of Ashburn’s first Chamber of Commerce
- Served as President of the Ashburn Kiwanis Club
- Within Ashburn Methodist Church:
- Maintained an active role on the Board of Stewards; chairman 3 different times.
- Sunday School Superintendent
- 13 years as church treasurer.
- Member of the American Legion; served 2 terms as Commander and was a Charter member and first Commander
- Member 20+ years Board of Tax Equalizers
- President of Chehaw Council Boy Scouts and holder of the Silver Beaver Award
The only disruption of his devotion to Ashburn and his family was when World War I launched. G.C. offered his medical services to the Medical Corps of the United States Army. He left his young children, his youngest being 3 weeks old, and he was commissioned as a First Lieutenant at Yale Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. Due to being hospitalized with a severe case of influenza, he never went overseas. He left for Connecticut in August of 1918 and returned home on Christmas day of the same year.
Personally, he was a frequent traveler taking trips to England and Cuba with his wife, his kids, and his wife’s siblings. A few months after returning from a trip to Cuba with Clyde and their daughter Emily, Clyde passed away on June 30, 1934. He mourned Clyde for several years but eventually remarried Idoline Shealy on October 14, 1939.
On February 25, 1958, G.C. McKenzie suffered a heart attack. However, he managed to drive himself to the Turner County Hospital himself. He became critical after that and died the following evening.
Beverly Clyde Shingler McKenzie
(November 15, 1887 – June 30, 1934)
Daughter of prominent pioneer citizen James Simon “J.S.” Shingler and Emma Baldwin Shingler, Beverly Clyde Shingler McKenzie was held in high esteem by all who knew her. She attended public schools and completed her studies at Virginia College in Roanoke, Virginia. She was very prominent in local clubs and the Methodist Church.
Simon Shingler McKenzie
(September 23, 1908 – December 22, 1908)
The infant son of G.C. and Clyde McKenzie was born in Arabi but died a few months later at the Shingler home “Sparrow’s Nest.”
Emily Clyde McKenzie Reyher
(December 17, 1912 – January 13, 1994)
Emily Reyher was the devoted eldest living child of G.C. and Clyde McKenzie. Her obituary in the January 19, 1994 edition of The Wiregrass Farmer noted that she traveled extensively with her husband while he was serving in active duty in the Air Force and she was a devoted member of the Ashburn Methodist Church where she served as a church trustee and other leadership positions. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and she was chapter regent. She even volunteered for the American Red Cross when they were in town for blood mobile.
She was a ”delightful friend and devoted to her family, sharing her compassion and concern at all times.”
m. Franklin Keith Reyher (May 22, 1911 – 1996)
- Janie Clyde Reyher (1941-1942)
- Franklin Keith Reyher Jr. (born 1946)
- Gordon Kimball Reyher (born 1949)
Katherine “Kitty” Beverly McKenzie Monroe
(March 14, 1916 – February 5, 2000)
m. Billy Green Monroe on December 29, 1937 in Ashburn, GA.
- Beverly Clyde Monroe North (born 1938)
- William Greer Monroe (2/21/1940-11/25/2007)
- Katherine Emily Monroe (born 1943)
- James Gordon Monroe (8/10/1945-1/6/1965)
- Minnie Greer Monroe Brown (born 1948)
Gordon Columbus McKenzie Jr.
(August 8, 1918 – September 20, 1991)
There is suprisingly not much found on G.C. McKenzie Jr. except what was listed in his obituary in the Setpember 25, 1991 edition of The Wiregrass Farmer:
- He served in the Army during WWII
- He was active in the Methodist Church while he and his family lived in Ashburn
- They eventually moved to Scottsdale, AZ and he was employed as a regional representative for the Potts Leghorn Leather Company.
m. 6/6/1939 Virginia Douglas Wright (Nov 11, 1919 – Feb 10, 2000)
- Virginia Sue McKenzie Tuck (born 1941) lived in Birmingham, AL
- Barbara Ann McKenzie Reed (born 1944) lives in Rebecca, GA
- Gordon C. McKenzie III “Ken” (1950) lived in Scottsdale, AZ
Henry James “Pok” McKenzie
(October 6, 1922 – August 12, 1992)
m. 6/28/1942 Frances Caryl Bell (1/31/1924 – 8/12/1992), divorced 1975
m. 8/2/1978 Barbara Lewis Van Horn
- Henry served two years in the AUS during WW II with rank of T/4 serial # 44039391
- Dealer of Ford Motor Company in 1954
- James “Jim” Gordon McKenzie (born 1943)
- Marylu Caryl McKenzie (born 1948)
- Lee “Buddy” Marshall McKenzie (11/1/1949 – 3/28/1958)
- Jenny Lynn McKenzie (born 1960)
The McKenzie home eventually reverted back to the Shingler family by a family exchange quitclaim deed. It eventually went to Clinton Felder Shingler, Jr. and was the childhood home of one Leila Elizabeth Shingler better known to us as Betty Talmadge, wife of Georgia governor Herman Talmadge. Her tumultuous marriage is another story for another time.3
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