Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chief Vann House Will Display Historic Maps ~ Spring Place, Georgia

The Chief Vann House Historic Site will display a collection of historic maps, all during the month of March. This month also begins new hours for the Vann House: it will be open Thursday through Sunday from 9 to 5. Previously, the historic site had been closed on Sundays.

Most of the maps on display are from a historic collection donated by Ivan Allen, Sr., of Atlanta, years ago. Among the maps are originals and historic reproductions of maps going all the way back to the days of Spanish occupation and French claims to what is now Georgia, from the 1500's, up through the early 18th century.  A few of these maps were acquired by Mr. Allen during visits to Great Britain. Some have titles like "Carta Geografica Della Florida" and "Carte de la Louisiana et du Mississippi."

Other maps on display are a 1776 image entitled a "General Map of the Southern British Colonies" which includes North and South Carolina along with East and West Florida as well as Georgia.  A highlight is a 1795 Georgia map which shows "Vann's Town" here before the current house was even built!  Rounding out the Allen portion of the display are maps of the Cherokee Nation ~ East and West ~ from the 1800's.

Over the years the Vann House has accumulated a variety of maps, but has no permanent display area for them. This is a rare opportunity for map lovers to see all the maps together. To round out the exhibit, the Vann House will also display copies of maps showing Indian trails and stagecoach routes across north Georgia (when Spring Place was a "mission station") as well as an 1890's Murray County map which labels the Vann House as "Goins Hill", reflecting the many changes in ownership the house endured over two centuries.  Completing the display are copies of the original 1832 Murray County Land Lottery surveys from the Georgia Archives.

Biographical Sketch of Ivan Allen:

Allen was a prominent businessman, civic leader, and philanthropist. He was quite instrumental in the purchase and restoration of the Vann House in the 1950's. He also gave the land to start Fort Mountain State Park. Ivan Allen's connections to Murray County, Georgia, go back to the days of Cherokee Removal when his maternal ancestors moved from Tennessee to the frontier town of Spring Place and opened the Chester Inn.  The Chesters later moved to Dalton where Mr. Allen was born and grew up.  Besides the map collection, he also donated funds toward the purchase of the property as well as several pieces of furniture--some of which had been used at the Old Chester Inn in Spring Place in the 1840's!

Mr. Allen's son, Ivan, Jr., was well-known as mayor of Atlanta during a time of tremendous growth and change. The younger Mr. Allen was an integral part of the creation of the Friends of the Vann House group in the 1980's.

The Allen maps and other maps in the Vann House collection will be out for public viewing in both the Robert E. Chambers Visitor Center and the Vann House itself for the next few weeks.

Remember the new Vann House schedule, beginning in March: 9-5 Thursday-Sunday, as announced by Georgia Department of Natural Resources management recently. For more information about the historic map exhibition or the Chief Vann House State Historic Park and Museum, call the site at 706-695-2598. Chief Vann House Historic Site is located at 82 Hwy 225 N, Chatsworth, Georgia, in Spring Place, a historic community several miles west of downtown Chatsworth.

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