Pebble Hill Plantation is a unique experience because the last owner left it to a foundation that opened it to the public just a few years after she died. The original family furniture and collections are in pristine condition, and every building and its contents, and the grounds, are beautifully maintained.
PHP shows the care of two remarkable women -- Kate Harvey (owner 1901 - 1936) and her daughter Pansy (Elizabeth Ireland Poe, owner 1936 -1978) who invested a great deal of energy and care in the design and upkeep of the entire property. PHP was never a slave plantation; it was originally a family farm and then a 'vacation plantation' for the wealthy Cleveland family of Howard Melville Hanna. His fortune started in groceries and grew to diverse investments in oil, tobacco, and steel. He left PHP to his daughter Kate, and she to her daughter, Pansy, who created the foundation to make PHP a public museum after her death in 1983. They also bred hunters and racing horses, and kate built a world-class herd of Jersey cows. Both women were philanthropists, gracious hostesses, active in their community, and generous, considerate employers. And Pansy played a mean game of polo -- with male teams, mind you.
You will be delighted as you drive in by the oaks and the Georgia Pine forest, and the sight of the gracious brick buildings. The Visitor Center is situated in what has to be one of the most beautiful cow barns and stables I've ever seen, built around a charmingly designed courtyard. The carriage house holds a number of specimens with information (I found out what a fifth wheel is, and enjoyed the photograph of Dwight Eisenhower in one of them, signed "Thanks for the buggy ride!").
There is historical information on the walls of the Visitor Center, and an informational video. From there you're taken to the Main House for a 45-minute tour of the first floor -- sitting rooms, family bedrooms, kitchen -- all with original furnishings intact. Up a beautiful spiral freestanding staircase is the art gallery (originally guest rooms). Kate and Pansy collected sporting paintings -- a genre I've never been interested in because I thought it was just one retriever dog and horse after another. But a closer look shows a real energy and love of nature, and the strong bond between people and their animals, as well as a lot of humor; one painting of three dogs howling was titled "The Ladies Chorus". A set of four paintings in what was Kate's bedroom show a woman taking a cage of hens to market but happening to run into a hunt in progress -- delightfully energetic funny. There are dozens of Audubon prints, and lovely representations of south Georgia flora and fauna. I never thought of wild turkeys as beautiful before. There's also an exhibit of vintage cameras, still and movie, owned by the family, along with original photographs of and by the family.
Other delights on the grounds are the kitchen garden, now growing flowers, the nursing station (public health nurses had a station here -- the posters on the wall are interesting), and the tennis court/family cemetery, which are always mentioned together, which made me laugh. But they do adjoin. It's a charming little cemetery, with all the main family members resting in view of the main house.
It cost me $16 for admission and the tour -- well worth it several times over. Go on a lovely, cool spring or fall day and you'll think you're in heaven. The staff is knowledgeable and very gracious. You can bring food in and picnic by the pond (watch out for gators, though), Snacks and soft drinks available at the Visitor Center.
If you own or manage Pebble Hill Plantation, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.