Janet Batchelor, left center, and Butch Allen, center right, unveil a National Register of Historic Places plaque for Stately Oaks Friday. Batchelor and Allen are descendants of the home’s builder, Whitmill Allen. Also pictured is fellow Allen descendant, Carol Allen Dial, left, and Butch Allen’s wife, Maria Allen. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
JONESBORO — After 42 years on the National Register of Historic Places, Stately Oaks Plantation finally has something to show for it.
The 1839 plantation house, which has operated as a living history museum since the 1970s, received the plaque that shows it is part of the register during a short ceremony Friday morning. The plaque was presented to Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc. officials by Janet Batchelor, a descendant of the house’s builder, Whitmill Allen.
Batchelor and other descendants of Allen bought the more than $600 plaque on behalf of Historical Jonesboro. She was one of four descendants who attended the presentation ceremony.
“There’s just an emotional connection for us,” said Batchelor. “We can’t be here physically as often as we’d like to be. We could be docents if we lived nearby, but we wanted to have some connection that was visible and that would allow future generations to know about the house.”
Allen was the home’s builder and original owner, but he is only one of the many residents whose stories are told by Stately Oaks docents. Many of the tales Historical Jonesboro docents tell about the house are tied to the McCord family, which owned the house during the Civil War, and the Orr family who deeded the building to Historical Jonesboro.
Stately Oaks is one of the few buildings in Clayton County that survived the Civil War and the destruction caused during the Battle of Jonesborough in 1864.
Stately Oaks was originally located near the present-day location of the intersection of Tara Boulevard and Mt. Zion Road, said Historical Jonesboro President Barbara Emert during the ceremony. It was moved to its current location, 100 Carriage Lane in Jonesboro, in the early 1970s.
The new plaque lists the house’s name, when it was built and that it was donated by Allen’s descendants.
“It’s custom,” said Emert. “A lot of them just say this property is on the National Register of Historic Places and don’t say what the property is or anything like that. But this has all of the names on it, so that really makes it special.”
The register was created by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and is maintained by the National Park Service, according to the register’s website. It is intended to be “the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation,” the website states.
The register shows Stately Oaks was added March 16, 1972, and is one of five Clayton County locations listed in its rolls. The other sites are Rex Mill in the Rex village, the Crawford-Dorsey House and Cemetery near Lovejoy, the Jonesboro Historic District and the Orkin Early Quartz Site near Fayetteville.
Earlier this week, Emert said the cost of a National Register plaque can be costly which is why Historical Jonesboro had not bought one on its own.