Howard Melville Hanna made a gift of Pebble Hill to his daughter Kate Hanna Ireland in the early twentieth century. Kate grew the property to the nearly 10,000 acres which the third Hanna family owner, Elisabeth Ireland Poe (Miss Pansy), inherited in 1936. Kate and Pansy both leased out a few small one and two horse farms on the backside of the property, but none of those farming operations are still in existence. Pebble Hill Plantation is today comprised of 3000 acres, much of which is in pole pine forest. The heart of the plantation consists of roughly 75 manicured acres that contain all of the major buildings. This is the portion of the plantation open to the public.
Kate was Pebble Hill’s great builder. Her first undertaking was replica dog-trot log cabin built as a school for her children (1901). As her needs increased and the building projects increased in size, Kate retained the talented Cleveland architect Abram Garfield. A strong friendship and warm working relationship developed between Kate and Garfield that continued throughout the building of Pebble Hill’s major buildings. The majority of these main buildings were designed by Garfield in the strong red brick neo-classical revival style that was extremely popular in the early twentieth century.
Visit the Main House (1914 & 1936), the Stables Complex (1928-1930), the Main House Garage (1920-1922), the Plantation Store (1911), the Pump House (1929), the Fire Engine House (1929) which also contained the Nurse's Station and the Wood Shop, The Dog Hospital and the Waldorf (1929).
The clapboarded Overflow Cottage (1916) was where Kate would accommodate extra guests when the crowd grew too large for the Main House. Would you like to stay at Pebble Hill? The Overflow Cottage is available for rental. Read More
The Main House
The Main House is a combination of 1914 and 1936 construction. In 1850, Julia Ann Mitchell, daughter of Pebble Hill’s original owner, commissioned noted architect John Wind to build a lovely large plantation house at PHP, known as the Wind House. When Howard Melville (Mel) Hanna bought the property in 1896, the somewhat neglected Wind House was still the primary residence. Mel gave Pebble Hill to his daughter Kate Hanna Ireland Harvey in 1901. Kate updated, enlarged and totally renovated the Wind House and in 1914 employed her good friend and favorite architect, Abram Garfield, to add a 100 foot long loggia, 3 bedrooms and a large sitting room to the structure.
In 1934 a disastrous fire totally destroyed the Wind House. However, the loggia wing was saved, as the story goes, by a bucket brigade dipping water from the swimming pool. Kate called Abram Garfield back to Pebble Hill and together they planned an elegant Main House rebuild and completed construction by January 1936. The new structure attaches to the Loggia Wing and provides for a total living space on two floors of 26,000 square feet.
The magnificent neo-classical structure is filled with fine art, antique furniture, fine china, crystal, silver trophies and so forth which were collected by both Kate and her daughter, Elisabeth Ireland Poe (Miss Pansy). Pansy inherited Pebble Hill upon her mother’s death in 1936 and continued to purchase fine art, in particular Sporting Art, and other praiseworthy objects. Everything in the house is original. All of the items on exhibit were in the house at the time of Pansy’s death in1978. Read More
The Stables Complex
In 1928, Abram Garfield designed this brick complex as a home for Kate’s Jersey herd. The part of the complex used today as the Visitor Center was originally a working dairy. Milk was pasteurized here, cheese made and butter churned. Other areas of the complex included a cow barn, bull pen, maternity barn, calf barn, and milking area. Two three-bedroom homes were built as part of the complex; one was for the manager and the other for the dairy boys. Today these two houses serve as PHP’s executive offices and as a rental unit for small parties. During the period from 1928 to 1936, dairy shows and auctions were held in the center courtyard. When Pansy became Pebble Hill’s mistress, she remodeled about half of the Stables Complex to accommodate her horses.
The Carriage Room, located in the southwest corner of the complex, is home to the plantation’s outstanding collection of carriages and wagons. Of particular interest to patrons not from this area, are two wagons used for bird hunting “southern style.”
The Tack Room contains interesting saddle racks and harness hooks made by PHP’s resident carver Gene Pullen. Pansy was an ardent collector, and her collection of miniature saddles can also be seen in the Tack Room.
Main House Garage
One of the most interesting buildings, from the standpoint of architectural design, is the Main House Garage, 1920-22. The garage was designed to hold the family’s fine automobiles. Over the years this included Packard’s, Pierce-Arrows, Bentleys, Cadillacs, Jaguars and more. Today you will find the 1964 Plymouth Valiant Pansy used to drive herself into town and a couple of station wagons used by staff members when the household moved to one of Pansy’s other properties.
The u-shaped structure has 9 bays, areas for storing parts and supplies, and an antique gas pump. Additionally there are two kitchens on the main floor and two living areas which were common spaces for staff members who lived in apartments on the second floor.
This building is the earliest of Abram Garfield’s red brick neo-classical structures, 1911. The white classical details reflect the Doric style of Greek architecture. It is in this store that products from the Pebble Hill Dairy were sold along with staples needed by families living on the plantation. Large cold storage lockers were also included in the structure for storing game and other meats served in the Main House.
One of several building projects underway at Pebble Hill in 1929 was the Pump House. The very attractive building housed two large boilers that provided heat to buildings across the plantation. Additionally, two water wellheads, wells drilled into the Florida Aquifer, are located here. One of these wells is still providing water for the plantation. This building is beautifully restored and is open for guests to explore.
Fire Engine House
Another 1929 building project is a multipurpose structure that takes its name from its most exciting resident, the Fire Engine. The Pebble Hill engine is a hand-pulled chemical wagon, c.1925, which occupies the central bay of the building. Displayed along with the wagon is other fire fighting apparatus and a detailed description of how the engine actually works.
The Nurse’s Station is located to the right of the Fire Engine. The Visiting Nurses’ Association was located at PHP, and their office and a clinic for treating Pebble Hill employees were located here. The nurse had an apartment on the second floor of this building. On the left side of the building is the woodworking shop where talented finish carpenters have been working constantly to keep Pebble Hill beautifully maintained from 1930 until today.
The little building next to the Fire Engine House has a series of small rooms where, when needed, dogs could be quarantined. Two outside runs are attached. A veterinarian from town would come out to treat the dogs as necessary.
The Waldorf, again 1929 construction, was also a multipurpose building. Primarily, the building housed the plantation laundry. Washing machines were located on the first floor. A dumb waiter was available to take wet items to the second floor for drying on rainy days. The iron clothesline poles are still in place behind the building where clothes were dried on sunny days.
A kitchen was located on the first floor where meals were prepared for most employees and a dining room for serving them. Members of the house staff ate in the Main House’s staff dining room. Additionally, bedrooms were available on the second floor of the Waldorf for unmarried women.
The two-story white clapboard house to the west of the Main House overlooking the Kitchen Garden is called the Overflow Cottage. Abram Garfield designed the cottage in 1916 to accommodate Kate’s guests when there too many to fit comfortably in the Main House.
Would you like to stay at Pebble Hill? The Overflow Cottage was completely renovated in 2008. The Cottage consists of 3 bedrooms, 3½ baths, gourmet kitchen, breakfast nook, living room, dining room, and gun room/office. It is luxuriously furnished to make your stay a comfortable and memorable one. Read more
Points of Interest
In 1917 Abram Garfield designed a handsome brick wall to surround the sloping plot of land in front of the Overflow Cottage. The area was terraced and the beds outlined in brick to provide spaces for growing vegetables. In winter the beds were fitted with cold frames and fresh produce was grown year round for Pebble Hill’s kitchens.Garfieldalso fit a charming potting shed into his plan.
Today the garden is planted with flowers during the summer months and is one of the most beautiful spots on the plantation.
The Roman Pool
In keeping with Pebble Hill’s elegant design schemes, the swimming pool planned by Abram Garfield in 1920 is an elegant Roman shape with brick decking and a detailed brick and wrought iron fence. Just to the north of the pool is Garfield’s attractive Pool House where separate areas for men and women are joined by an eye-catching barrel vaulted roof.
Gardens and the Pergola
Kate was particularly interested in the gardens surrounding the Main House. Plantings that bloom in the winter season when the family was in residence were selected. Brick walkways, meander through camellias, azaleas, magnolia trees and magnificent live oaks on the front (south) side of the house. The hedge maze and jasmine covered tunnel date from c.1935 and are still particular favorites with visiting children.
The lush plantings continue around the house and on the back side the plantings are interspersed with a beautiful pergola, reflection pool, sundial and fountains.
Family Cemetery and Lawn Tennis Court
In 1915 Garfield was again called on to design the lovely brick wall that now encloses the Family Cemetery. The older Mitchell family graves are in the front area separated from the newer Hanna section by an interior brick wall.
The wall continues on to surround a lawn tennis court. The court is slightly depressed to separate it from a wide raised border built to accommodate spectators. The raised area is appointed with beautiful marble lawn furniture, a fountain, and appropriate plantings.
Picnic Area by the Pond
A clay road exits the parking area heading east and leads down to a picnic area by the pond. Picnic tables on concrete pads are provided along with grills for use by our patrons. This area can be reserved for a private party. (Call Lori Curtis, 229 226-2344.)
On a cool day, the walk to the picnic area is quite enjoyable; on a hot summer day you will probably want to drive.
As you head down the road to the picnic area, you will have no trouble recognizing the Ark. Stop and go in as it is always open. The interior mural of Noah, his wife and all the animals was created by J. Clinton Shepherd, the artist who painted the two lovely murals in the Main House. Note the details. Each species is represented by a male and female and appropriate food is provided for all.
Log Cabin School
The Log Cabin School is the oldest building on Pebble Hill today, having been built in 1901. Mrs. Harvey’s children, Livingston and Pansy, were tutored here during the winter months while the family stayed at Pebble Hill.
One side of the building is the schoolroom. A tutor from Cleveland accompanied the family to teach the lessons. If there were guests here who had school-age children, the children could continue their studies with the tutor during their visit.
The other side is the playroom. Toys that belonged to Livingston and Pansy are on display here. This area provided a dry place for the children to enjoy on rainy days. Read More
Baby Big Oak
In the field beyond the pond you can see a small tree protected by a wooden fence. This tree is growing from one of the last acorns produced by Thomasvill'e famous "Big Oak." We hope that in two hundred years it will be as magnificent as its much honored ancestor.
What is the Pebble Hill connection to Thomasville's "Big Oak"? Many years back when the tree was in danger of being cut down, Miss Pansy bought the land, had the tree stabilized and then gave it to the City of Thomasville so all of us can continue to enjoy its beauty.