The Elisha Winn House Grounds
Facing the Winn House from the front you see a recreation of the original appearance of the house as it was in 1818. The width, depth, and height of the original porch, as well as the pitch of the porch roof, were discovered through archeological studies and from internal bracing within the structure. The Winn House chimney to your immediate right bears two dates that are difficult to read.
The original barn was torn down and its timbers and lumber were used to build another barn in 1945. The barn was wired for electricity in 1982. The second barn completely collapsed in 1997.
The original barn stood in the open area in front of the location of the later barn and was used as Gwinnett County's first courthouse. Superior Court trials were held on the third floor in 1819. It was a very large structure, about 32 feet square, with wooden floors and was probably used to store feeds and equipment rather than house animals. It had two floors and an attic and was set on a foundation of red field rock. Rocks partially buried in the area are remnants of the foundations of the original building.
In October 2005, a seven-mule barn from another county was relocated to the Winn House grounds. The barn was originally built in 1917.
*NOTE* For your safety please do not enter barn area.
Corn Crib/Shed - This structure is original to the property, but was built during later ownership and was used to store corn and other grains.
Clack Blacksmith Shop
Donald S. Bickers, M.D., donated this structure in 2000. The building was built about 1910 by his grandfather, Alfred R. Clack, who used it into his old age, dying in 1948. Dr. Bickers kept the setup intact. When donated, the building needed only a 110-pound anvil, stone foundation, and stone forge. The blacksmith shop was moved to the Winn property from Alfarminda Farms on West Union Grove Circle in Gwinnett County.
Dr. Bickers donated this structure in 2001. It is believed that farm workers stored cotton bags and tools in this building overnight to keep them from being exposed to the elements. The building was moved to the Winn property in 2002. The floor was leveled to adjust for sagging in the middle of the floor in March 2004.
Walnut Grove School
This one-room 1875 school originally sat near Walnut Grove Church on today's Highway 124 (Braselton Road) near the Methodist Campgrounds. When it was no longer used as a school, the Davis family who had donated the original building materials had it moved in 1911 to their farm on Highway 124 near Lendon Lane and Highway 316, where it was used for a gristmill, carpenter and mechanic shop, and then a storage shed. Hamilton Davis donated the building to the society in 1985. In 1986 the society undertook its relocation and restoration to its 1875 appearance.
Members of the Gwinnett Historical Society made the school benches and wall pegs used for coat hooks. The teacher's desk, bell, old slate, school books, and outdoor bell were donated. Larry Mabrey donated the rocks used for the chimney.
One teacher instructed seven grades in the single room. The students brought their lunches from home and created their own games at recess time. The girls used an outhouse and the boys used the woods. Students walked up to three miles each way to attend school.
The school was opened for tours in 1988, and was dedicated on April 17, 1994. Restoration costs through 1992 were about $10,000.
Travis Gunter Brown donated an outhouse in 2001 which Society member Spence Roberts used as a model to recreate the existing version. He completed the present building in July 2004, using some of the wood from the donated outhouse. The original building was badly damaged from termite infestation.
When Gwinnett County was created, the Elisha Winn House was used as the courthouse until something else could be built. The first sessions of court were held in a barn out back of the Winn house and the temporary jail was built for use in connection with that court.
The one-room structure, built either in late 1818 or early 1819 out back of the Winn home place, was about 8 feet by 12 feet, with one door and one window. It was made of logs with knots and weather boarded over the logs. The door had a heavy iron bar lock and was about 30 inches wide. The inside was sealed with wide boards similar to the inside of the Winn house. It had one window with bars inside the knotty logs. The window was right at the top of head level. It was used until early in the year of 1820 when the first temporary Gwinnett courthouse was completed by Isham Williams for $56.00 at the intersection of what is now Crogan Street and Old Norcross Road, about a mile from the current courthouse.
That old jail stood for around 115 years and was torn down in August 1933 by Jack Sims and Amos Hutchins. Mr. Sims owned the Winn House at that time and Amos Hutchins worked for him. Amos Hutchins was born in a cabin on the Winn Plantation and lived most of his life on the property. The original jail had been converted to the storage of cotton seed by the Sims family by sealing the front door and using a sliding door on the roof through which to store and retrieve the seeds.
The log jail currently on the Winn House property was built in Lawrenceville in the 1820s and was originally located just off the square on Pike Street. A jailer or "turn key" lived nearby and was paid 50 cents or a dollar to feed, clothe and provide blankets for prisoners. Usually his wife did the work but sometimes the jailer would do the sewing, cooking, or looking after the prisoners.
The logs are locked together in tongue-and-groove style. It originally sat directly on the ground with no floor, making it cold in the winter and damp all the time. The window is latticed with metal bars. Every square inch of the walls is covered with home-made nails that go all the way through the walls from inside to outside, making it impossible to escape. The roof, which was added to the jail by the Historical Society, is peaked. The original roof had heavy logs laid across the walls to form a roof. These leaked when it rained and only those under four feet tall could stand upright in the jail.
It was in such terrible shape that the local newspaper wrote articles about how awful it was and that it needed to be replaced. After it was used as a jail, Oscar Moon moved the structure to his property on Moon Road in the 1930s and used it as a corn crib. Mr. B. C. Bagby bought the property in 1943 and donated the building to the historical society in 1986. The Gwinnett Historical Society is very thankful he allowed us to move the old jail to its present location on the site of the original county jail. This jail is similar in size and construction, based on recollections and archaeological evidence, to the original jail.
The most famous prisoners ever held in this jail were Moravian missionaries who refused to get permits to live in Cherokee territory across the Chattahoochee River. They were charged in Gwinnett's Inferior Court for "living in Cherokee Territory and digging for gold" and brought their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, they were housed in the jail which proved to be too small so they were sent to Walton County and eventually served time in state prison in Milledgeville. Georgia's governor pardoned them after 18 months.