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Life on a Shooting Plantation Part 3
A Gilded Age Adventure for the Powerful and Prominent

Kate Benedict Hanna Ireland Harvey
Mistress of Pebble Hill, 1901 thru 1936

In 1901 Howard Melville Hanna, Mel, gave Pebble Hill Plantation to his daughter Kate Benedict Hanna Ireland, the wife of Robert Livingston Ireland and the mother of Elizabeth (Pansy) Ireland Poe and Robert Livingston Ireland, Jr. (Liv). Pictured below are Kate, daughter Elisabeth (Pansy), and son Livingston (Liv).

Kate, Pansy & Livingston

When Mel purchased Pebble hill in 1896, he began making major repairs to the property and by the time Kate received the plantation the beautiful Wind House was restored to much of its original beauty. Pictured below is the Wind House after 1900.

The Wind House c. 1901

Like all women with a new home, Kate focused on the interior of the house and enthusiastically redecorated in the latest and most popular fashion.  Kate primarily chose furniture in the English Empire style, a style particularly favored for main houses on southern plantations. She chose patterned wall coverings and floor coverings that reflected popular taste at the end of the Victorian period.

Lavendar Room and Sitting Room

Kate began construction in 1901 on the first of many structures she would build at Pebble Hill.  She is the builder responsible for all the plantations major buildings.  She was actively involved in the design of these buildings and leaves her creative imprint on all of them.  The first building was a replica southern dogtrot log cabin that served as both school and play room for her children while they were in South Georgia during the winter months.  The room on the right was the school room where a tutor spent time each day keeping Kate’s children and other visiting youngsters up to date with their lessons. When the children weren’t doing school work, they could play in the room to the left.

Log Cabin School

Kate became very interested in developing a herd of prize winning Jersey Cows.  She even went to the Isle of Jersey to select some of her breed stock.  The herd grew, individual cows won the highest honors at livestock shows, and the residents of PHP as well as many neighbors from Thomasville enjoyed the fine milk, cream, butter and cheese produced in the Pebble Hill Dairy. Pictured below is the Cow Barn c. 1910.

The Cow Barn c. 1910

One of Kate’s earliest building projects was the Plantation Store. Completed in 1911 as a retail outlet for the dairy, the building was designed by Abram Garfield.  Abram Garfield would go on to design all the plantation’s major buildings.

The Plantation Store

In 1914 Garfield designed the Loggia Wing of the house which includes the 100 foot long loggia, Kate’s bedroom, a two bedroom suite and the Big Sitting Room.

Loggia wing

And how did Kate and her friends spend their time at Pebble Hill?  Activities were very much the same as those enjoyed during Thomasville’s Hotel Era. Gentlemen smoked good cigars while talking politics and horses.  Women talked about everything, and interestingly, as shown in this photo, took on the role of amateur photographers.  Everyone enjoyed a good picnic.


Riding and hunting were favorite activities. In the photograph below Kate is taking guests for an outing on horseback.  She is riding the light horse on the right. Note that she is riding sidesaddle.

riding group

The most popular style of hunting on the plantation utilized a mule drawn hunt wagon outfitted with a cage for bird dogs, water, hay and a gun box. Kate’s employees on horseback managed the hunt. Additionally, a PHP employee was assigned the duty of wagon driver so hunters could concentrate on shooting.

hunting southern style

Automobiles were part of the PHP scene as early as 1905.

1905 automobile

Activities popular during the Hotel Era continued to be enjoyed at PHP.  Baseball and lawn tennis were always popular pastimes at PHP. Friendly games were played by family members and guests.

friendly games

Visiting the smaller town of Tallahassee, Florida, continued to be regular outing for PHP family members and guests. Pictured below is a group from Pebble Hill on a visit to Tallahassee in 1908.

visiting Tallahassee

 Trips to the gulf coast, particularly to St. Marks, were taken regularly. The way to St. Marks was not a four lane paved road in 1908, so sometimes things didn’t go as well as Kate would have preferred.

Stuck in the mud

For a change of pace, Kate would take her guests to “the Club.” In Thomasville “the Club” means Glen Arven Country Club founded in 1892. The club house was built in 1904.

At the Club, 1905-1910

Kate’s children, Liv and Pansy, loved being at Pebble Hill. They loved playing outside, getting dirty, and having fun, just like all children. These photos were all taken before 1910. Pictured left is Liv playing cowboy. In the center Liv and friends enjoy a romp on a sandy beach along the Ochlockonee River. The picture on the right shows Liv taking Pansy for a boat ride.

Children at play

Children’s activities were sometimes more formal. All were dressed up for Pansy’s birthday party. Liv is in a white sailor suit, popular attire for boys at the time, and sitting at the far right. Pansy sits next to her brother closest to the camera. This picture is c. 1901.

Pansy's birthday party c. 1901

A production of Alice in Wonderland kept the children busy for several weeks. Note the building created to be part of a set. The performance took place outside with different locations provided for different scenes. It was quite a production!

 Alice in Wonderland production

Kate began the tradition of having a huge Easter Party every year for all the people who lived, worked or were visiting Pebble Hill at Easter time. She also began the tradition of a wonderful Christmas celebration that, again, included everyone that was a part of the PHP community. Picture is c. 1906.

Easter Party c. 1906

In the nineteen teens, Kate’s children grew up. Pansy developed into an accomplished equestrian and got her first car, a 1918 Packard.

Pansy horseback and in Packard

Liv went off to Yale, became one of the Navy’s first pilots during WWI, and got married. The photo shows Liv’s wedding – Pansy is the bridesmaid shown far right.

Liv's wedding

One of Kate’s greatest legacies to Pebble Hill is the collection of beautiful brick, neo-classical buildings she commissioned for the property. She chose Cleveland architect Abram Garfield, a personal friend, to design and manage the construction. Kate was a very “hands-on” client who worked closely with Garfield. Among the many buildings Kate built are the Plantation Store, the Pump House, the Waldorf and the lavish Cow Barn (today called the Stables Complex).

Building group 1

Partial views of Cow Barn exterior and interior courtyard

Kate’s personal life changed too. After her children are grown she divorced Robert Livingston Ireland and married Perry Harvey in 1923. Pictured below are Kate and Perry Harvey under the pergola at Pebble Hill.

Kate & Perry

In 1934, the old plantation house designed by John Wind burns. Only the 1914 Loggia Wing, designed by Abram Garfield, remains.

After 1934 fire

Kate and Garfield set about designing and then building the new Main House at Pebble Hill. The house was finished and Kate moved in early in 1936. The new house attaches to the older Loggia Wing providing 26,000 square feet of living space on two floors.

Main House construction

Kate enjoys her new home for only a few months before passing away in May of 1936. Kate and Perry Harvey are buried in the Pebble Hill Cemetery. 


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