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Stately Oaks to receive long awaited ‘National Register’ plaque

“Rhett” and “Scarlett” embrace each other on the lawn of Stately Oaks Plantation in Jonesboro on the cover of the 2014 Georgia Travel Guide. Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc has scheduled a ceremony for Friday to receive a plaque recognizing its place on the National Register of Historic Places. (File Photo)

“Rhett” and “Scarlett” embrace each other on the lawn of Stately Oaks Plantation in Jonesboro on the cover of the 2014 Georgia Travel Guide. Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc has scheduled a ceremony for Friday to receive a plaque recognizing its place on the National Register of Historic Places. (File Photo)

JONESBORO — Stately Oaks Plantation has a secret that many people may not think about when they visit its manicured grounds and walk between its grand columns.

The Jonesboro attraction — which plays into the city’s Civil War history and ties to “Gone With The Wind” — has been on the National Register of Historic Places since at least the 1980’s, said Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc President Barbara Emert.

It’s a fact that goes unnoticed because the property has no sign which shows visitors that it has such a distinction. Although Historical Jonesboro, which operates the site, was able to get the distinction for the house, Emert said the group didn’t make raising money to buy a “National Register” plaque a high priority. Regular maintenance of the house and grounds were more important, she said.

“They range from $100 on up to $500 which is a lot for us,” said Emert. “We’ve got a lot more important [needs to address] than putting something on the house.”

But a benefactor has stepped in to cover the cost of recognizing Stately Oaks’ place on the register. Emert said Janet Batchelor, a resident of Texas, bought a plaque for Historical Jonesboro and is bringing it to the house, which is now a living history museum, later this week. It will be presented to the organization during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday, at Stately Oaks, 100 Carriage Lane in Jonesboro.

Batchelor has deep ties to Stately Oaks. She is a descendent of Whitmell Allen, who helped build the two-story plantation house in 1839 at its original location north of Jonesboro.

“She just wanted us to have a plaque so she purchased it on her own,” said Emert.

Although Historical Jonesboro officials don’t tout Stately Oaks’ place on the register, Emert said having the plaque on the house will mean something to eagle-eyed tourists. Once a building is on the register, the people who own and operate it cannot make significant changes to it without the blessings of National Register of Historic Places officials, she said.

“We don’t tell people, ‘Welcome to Stately Oaks, we’re on the National Register,’ but if we have that plaque, people who travel a lot will recognize the symbol so they’ll be able to look at that and say, ‘OK, this house has some significance nationally,’ ” said Emert.

Visitors who attend the plaque presentation are invited to a reception afterward in the plantation’s Bethel Schoolhouse. Stately Oaks is open for tours from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for senior citizens and military members and $6 for children ages 5 to 11.