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Friday, October 1, 2010

Five Generations of Wedowee Fun

Home on the Lake
by Kelly Caldwell


When Duke and Lynn Blackburn began planning their retirement home on Lake Wedowee five years ago, the most important thing was to honor their family.

Lynn grew up visiting her grandparents in Wedowee, who were from the area.

“My grandparents were born here,” Lynn said. “Actually my grandfather's family had a 300-acre farm here, but lost it during the Great Depression.”

Archie and Carrie Satterwhite Hurley moved to Atlanta, where Archie cut hair on the streets until a barber took him into his shop.

“He ended up owning his own shop and a block of College Park in Atlanta,” Lynn said. “My grandparents moved back 30 years later and bought 70 acres of land. People use to say that they left Wedowee, but Wedowee never left them.”

The Hurleys returned in the 1950s and the land adjoined the Little Tallapoosa River, and when Alabama Power Company came calling about securing the land for what is now known as Lake Wedowee, Archie Hurley didn't want to hear it.

“He wasn't real happy about the lake coming,” Lynn said. “We had paradise out there. We had an apple orchard and a garden...We loved river life.

“My grandfather would pole us up the river to islands to go swimming and we just loved it. To this day I miss the smell of the river.”

According to Lynn, her grandfather was one of the last to sell his land to Alabama Power and even went to court about it.

“He was probably one of the highest paid,” she said. “They tried to say he was speculating when he bought the land in the 1950s but that was nonsense. There had been talk of a lake coming here since he was a child.”

When the lake was impounded in 1982, only seven acres of the Hurley's land remained above water.
“My oldest son is the only one of my three children that even remembers what it was like before it was Lake Wedowee,” Lynn said.

She inherited her grandparents land in the early 1990s and the family built a modest one bedroom, one bath cabin with a carport.

“We didn't even have a kitchen, we had a refrigerator in the carport and that was it,” Lynn said. “Duke traveled a lot during that time so the boys and I would come down here, spend time with my parents (who built their lake home in 1981) and stay at the cabin.”

The Blackburns began serious talks of building their home on Lake Wedowee about five years ago, knowing they wanted to move here when Duke retired from state law enforcement in Georgia.

“We had 20 years to sit here and think about how we wanted things,” Duke said.
Construction began four years ago and it was not a fast-moving process.

“It was a definite hurry up and wait type deal,” he said. “We knew we wanted the old craftsman style of post and beam framing and were going to do it with new wood, but after I ordered the wood, I heard of an old mill being torn down near Newnan.”

The mill, built by Blackburn's grandfather, operated from 1926 to 1966 under the name of Arn-Co Manufacturing which was a joint partnership of R.D. Cole and the Arnall family.

“R.D. Cole Manufacturing began in 1854 and its very first job was repairing confederate wagons,” Duke said. “One thing led to another and they did a lot of railroad work and built homes in Newnan. They also built the Historic Greek Revival Courthouse in Coweta County, Ga. along with the Central Baptist Church in Newnan, which is where we got the idea for our great room.”

The Blackburns bought 53 Heart Pine Timbers from the old mill and used them in numerous ways in their home.

“What we didn't use for structural timbers in the house, we used for paneling, flooring and handrails,” Duke said.

They were interested in the old world craftsman style construction and found Holder Brothers Framers out of Monroe, Ga. to frame their home.

“This wasn't a throw it up there and nail it together job,” Duke said. “We wanted to use Timber Framers and were really impressed with Gabel and Whit Holder. They do a lot of restoration work in Charleston, S.C. and are members of a woodworkers and timber framers guild,” Duke said.

The octagonal great room is framed with antique heart pine timbers using hammer beams and arched braces and the shape has family significance as well.

“I laid out water tanks for my dad when I was younger and every one of them had eight legs,” Duke said. “Most of the Cole tanks did, so I wanted to incorporate that into our house too. It was significant to us, and we liked the aesthetic look of it.”

Local builder Brian Stephens took over construction after framing and according to the Blackburn's he said, he probably would never work on a more interesting job...every aspect has some historical value and history.
The home also embraces the Blackburn's Scottish heritage with the use of rock work in the fire places and outdoor areas.

“We really wanted to embrace where we came from in the design of the house,” Duke said. “We also planned it with entertaining and comfort in mind.”

The home overlooks 1,250 feet of waterfront and has three docks and a gazebo. The Blackburn's original cabin is now a guest house with an extra bedroom and bath added in 2005 when the garage was enclosed and converted to a kitchen and living area.

The Blackburn family has expanded greatly from the days of the one bedroom, one bath cabin. Now, Duke and Lynn have Cole, 36, his wife Susan and four children Cason, Colson, Maddie and Molly; Will, 27, his wife Jovanka and daughter Isabel and Ben, 20, that all come to enjoy Lake Wedowee.

“Our family really loves to come here and we all have a place to stay and relax,” Lynn said. “And, because of the age difference in our children, we will have little ones to come play on the lake for years to come.”

To view more pictures of this home, visit our website at www.lakewedoweelife.com

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