The Jewell House
Truly one of Georgia’s hidden jewels, this remote event venue offers rustic charm amid the beauty of nature
By LINDSEY PILCHER
Originally built by Daniel Jewell for his daughter, Harriette, the main home on the Jewell Village Greens remains much the same as it did in days gone by. This house has gone by many names given who has lived in it, but most know it simply as The Jewell House.
Today, this magical 40-acre property, nestled alongside the Ogeechee River, is a gorgeous wedding venue that belongs to Wayne and Suzanne Barnes with their family.
Both Wayne and Suzanne grew up in the Seattle area and raised their family there. In 2000, Wayne started working for a company based in Atlanta, which eventually led to the family relocating and living in Reynoldstown, a historic neighborhood in Atlanta.
Suzanne was not working at the time and got interested in some of the plantation style homes outside the city. The couple had investigated operating a Bed & Breakfast venue in Washington, but were unable to do so. However, in Georgia it seemed much more realistic to be able to open a profitable venue. After looking at many different properties, Suzanne found The Jewell House. The circa mid-nineteen century house is a registered historic landmark located in the small town of Jewell, Georgia. Wayne was skeptical, but once he walked the property, he was ready to buy it before he had even set foot inside the house.
As far as staff goes, the Barnes have had a lot of different workers over the years to help run the events. They did most of the maintenance and upkeep over the years themselves; though this year, Wayne has been in Ohio working and they have leaned much more on a retired contractor to do the house maintenance and a friend, Carlos, and his son, Eric, to keep the landscaping beautiful.
The ladies from the Warrenton Garden Club, of which Suzanne is a member, do most of the floral arrangements for events. They are paid a flat rate which goes into the Garden Club funds and saves the club from having to do fundraisers. Plus, they get to play with lots of lovely flowers that they didn’t have to buy, Suzanne says. Truly a win-win!
Various friends of Suzanne have served as the “lady in waiting” to tend to the needs of the bride throughout the wedding day, which is a blessing to have on such a special day in such a special place
“In 1895, Daniel Jewell, who lived across the street from our home, funded the building of the Jewell Baptist Church, the schoolhouse, and our house,” Suzanne said, noting that everything was constructed from local heart pine which had been carefully dried. “The house is really built like a ship,” she added. “Very strong, big beams, everything is overbuilt by today’s standards.”
The longest occupant of the house was Harriet (Hattie) Jewell Cody, Daniel’s daughter, who taught at the schoolhouse and gave piano lessons in the front parlor of the house. The house has had some interesting owners over the years, including William Ivy Hair, author and professor at GCSU. Hattie Cody and William Hair are both buried in the cemetery behind the Baptist church.
When the area became the center of town, the Methodist church, which was originally constructed in 1840, was dismantled and reconstructed nearby around 1896. That church is now owned privately by Alan and Judy Shapiro, who have had it lovingly restored to original furnishings, but with modern conveniences like air conditioning. “The church has wonderful acoustics and several weddings have been performed there with receptions afterwards in our barn or pavilion,” Suzanne said.
When the Barnes purchased the home in 2014, their oldest daughter was engaged so there was a deadline to get something ready in time for her March 2015 wedding. Some issues relating to the real estate transactions caused a delay in the closing, but they finally moved in just before Christmas. They managed to get the pavilion built and ready by the middle of March. Later that year, a restroom facility by the pavilion was constructed and completed in time for the new venue’s second wedding, which took place in November of 2015.
Construction of the Riverwalk barn started in March 2016. All of the siding on the barn is from pine trees that were harvested and milled on site. The determined couple rushed to meet their commitment to the John Hancock Academy so the school’s 50th Anniversary Gala could be held at the barn on June 4th of that year.
In 2017, they added The Nave, the ceremony site overlooking the pond. All the facing materials on the front are reclaimed from an old mercantile store in Norwood that was dismantled a few years ago.
Today, the 40-acre venue offers an array of options to accommodate all styles of weddings as well as other events. The most popular facility is the handcrafted Riverwalk Barn, with its raw pine siding, reclaimed tin wall, and four massive barn doors that open to reveal the breathtaking country scenery. At over 2,500 square feet, the Riverwalk Barn seats 250 guests.
The Little White Church, nearby in the town of Jewell, features original hand-carved pews and flooring, and seats 150 guests.
The Forest Pavilion allows you to experience Mother Nature’s beauty outdoors with all the comforts of the indoors. The pergola entry, soft lighting and wood-burning fire pit made of river rock create a unique ambience for up to 150 guests.
For a setting in the beauty of nature itself, the Pecan Orchard provides a ceremony site among rows of centuries-old, stately pecan trees. This true-forest site can accommodate up to 250 guests.
The Nave, the charming ceremony and reception site overlooking the pond, can accommodate any number of guests and features real wedding bells that ring out the joyful sounds of celebration.
And the crown jewel of the venue is its namesake, the Jewell House. The spacious Victorian manor provides lodging for wedding parties, corporate events and private retreats. It sleeps up to 12 guests and features a formal dining room, wraparound porch and roomy, Southern-style kitchen.
As far as future construction goes for the venue, Wayne and Suzanne would like to add cabins to the property to offer more lodging options. They are also interested in doing some organic agriculture south of the pond, but don’t have a full-blown plan for that yet.
The Jewell House and property are truly magical and have been lovingly brought back to operation so people from all over can experience and cherish life long memories.
Find out more about the Jewell House by calling Suzanne at 888-399-9007, visiting its Facebook page, its website www.thejewellhouse.com, or visiting in person at 79 Hamburg State Park Rd., Jewell, Georgia, 31045. l