Ashford Manor: A Watkinsville Treasure
Turn of the Century charm! The Ashford Manor Estate property consists of the Manor home, adjacent cottage, terraced gardens, all on over 4 acres of property presiding over Main Street downtown Watkinsville. Built in 1893, this Queen Anne Victorian home, fondly known as Ashford Manor, was originally built for Alexander Woodson Ashford and his family. The house maintains much of the original character envisioned and executed by well-known architect, Nathanial Richardson – elaborate exterior moldings, trims and gable fans as well as 12 foot ceilings, heart pine floors, numerous fireplaces and 13 triple sash window/doorways that open to the wrap-around veranda. A rich and historical property, today the home is one of Watkinsville’s beloved landmarks which has played host to thousands of visitors in the past as it was recently operated as a popular bed and breakfast and event facility. Now, this historic home can be your family homestead or a special haven to house your business in the bustling downtown of Watkinsville.
For more information on Ashford Manor:
History of Ashford Manor
In 1881, Alexander Woodson (A.W.) Ashford purchased the land where Ashford Manor now sits from Asa Meeks Jackson, who was the court ordinary and probate judge for Clarke County.
Meeks was the father of 21 children, and the son of Hartwell Jackson, a large landholder in Clarke County in the early 1800s. Meeks married Evaline Harden, daughter of Dr. Robert Harden and Rose Marie Antoinette Claudine Josephine Gauvain Harden. Dr. Harden owned much of the land in this area, giving Harden Hill Road, where Ashford Manor is located, its name. It’s likely he gifted this land to his daughter when she married Meeks. The Meeks lived on the property in the 1850s, then rented it to William Woodis before selling it to A.W. Ashford.
Woodis was a shoe manufacturer, conveniently located near the Tan Yard on Tan Yard Branch (the creek just below Ashford Manor).
The Queen Anne-style Manor house and church were designed by James McCulloch in 1893. He lived in Athens and was a civil engineer. He was in partnership with W[escom] Hudgins in 1869, and ran his own firm in Athens (engineering & architecture) from at least 1886-1893. McCulloch is still being researched, but it is believed that he designed the following buildings in Athens:
- Emmanuel Episcopal Church (Prince Avenue, downtown Athens)
- Michael Bros. Building (at the corner of Clayton & Jackson Streets, downtown Athens)
- Lucy Cobb annex (Milledge Avenue, Athens)
- Houses for the Cobb family*
- A. B. Marks Building (at the corner of Broad & Wall Streets, downtown Athens)
In 1893 A.W. was enjoying financial good fortune and it was at this time that he built both Ashford Manor and The Ashford Memorial Methodist Church. The Victorian home and the Gothic style church were built by Nathaniel Richardson, who is credited with building many Watkinsville homes.
About the Home
The interior of Ashford Manor is bright and airy. Those are two words that describe the entire home, but especially the foyer and entry/sitting room. The custom designed curved room enhances the unique characteristics in the home and provides a soft touch to this side of the estate. Completed by a pristine and crisp white fireplace, this area of the offers that first touch of charm as you enter. As you move out of the foyer, the main floor is completed with a large parlor/living room as well as the banquet sized dining room that has a beautiful soaring ceiling with large medallion which highlights the formality of this room. And the fireplace adorned with original custom tiles adds to the magic of the home.
About the Rooms & Baths
The 6 bedroom, 6 bath home has a nice layout of the bedroom suites – a main floor Garden bedroom suite with a queen Murphy bed, a bedroom suite accessed on the back patio, 4 additional bedroom suites on the 2nd floor. Accessed from the back of the home is a set of 3 half baths and there is an additional half bath that comes off of the back patio. This home features unique and generously sized rooms that are all fully equipped with full baths and closets. Each space has its own personality and is ready for the furnishings that will make each room shine.
Ashford Manor Ambiance
The entire home is full of custom features. Like the original commissioned tiles on the dining room fireplace depicting the three Ashford daughters of the original Ashford owner. And the ornately carved trim on the staircase with finials on the banisters as well as mirroring finials hanging below the stairwell ceiling. Along with a stained wood spire that catches your attention as you go up the stairwell to the Penthouse Suite. There are details all throughout the property that show the amount of attention that was given to making this home a true showpiece.
In addition to the Manor, the 1860s built Georgian Revival cottage with Craftsman accents boasts 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, a large renovated kitchen, large deck with awning, covered front porch that runs the full length of the home, and a quaint English pathway around the front and sides of the home that lead to the terraced gardens. One of the bedrooms and baths has been used as an efficiency apartment recently and has a kitchenette built in. It has a separate side entrance with patio area for private entertaining space. Built over a cellar basement, the cottage sits perfectly on the beautiful property surrounded by stunning mature trees. And the views of the terraced gardens to the side are just priceless.
The grounds of the Manor cannot be rivaled. Stretching over 4 terraces, the gardens feature open lawns surrounded by custom floral and greenery beds, a stunning pool terrace with a bubbling water feature/koi pond, and brick terrace walls that feature built in porticos as you descend. The professionally cared for grounds are cocooned with vibrant mature foliage that offers a “Secret Garden” feel to the property. And yet, you are in the heart of a bustling downtown. It’s truly the best of both worlds.
Ashford Manor Location & Community
The grounds have mature landscaping that has been lovingly maintained. And a feature not to be missed is the gazebo that predates the 1893 construction of the home, which was used as a cover for the builder and the house plans as the property was being built.
Watkinsville is now a mix of restaurants, shops, art galleries, churches, museums, bakeries, wine shops, coffee houses and more. There is also a 6 acre nature park (Watkinsville Woods) with a wooded walking path that leads you through groves of native trees, a historic spring, planted dogwoods and a wildflower garden. It is the only park of its kind in a city of its size. Walk out of this magical secluded property into a thriving town or a nature preserve. There is something for everyone.