Historic Beauty that is Closer than You Think

By WILL SONGSTER

In the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains lies a historical site that once had a grand manor surrounded by beautiful gardens. Today the ruins and gardens remain along with some modern amenities as Barnsley Resort.

The historic ruins and gardens at Barnsley Resort.
The historic ruins and gardens at Barnsley Resort.

Barnsley Resort is located just northwest of Atlanta. While there are many modern amenities that people from all across the South come to enjoy, there is a historical mansion that dates back to before the Civil War. Many people come for the resort’s many luxurious rooms and activities but few know the real story of this resort.

The resort can trace back its history to the 1840s.

“There is so much for families and couples to do at Barnsley, from the spa, golf course, horseback riding, canoeing, shooting range, and various yard games. The resort has cottages for the guests to stay in as well as two restaurants,” said Michael Gordon, the general manager of Barnsley Resort.

Along with the many amenities that the resort offers there is also an historical side to it. Clent Coker is the Barnsley Resort historian and museum director.

“The museum is a good highlight of the unique Barnsley story, and believe me, there are a thousand stories here,” Coker said.

The land was originally purchased by Godfrey Barnsley who was from Liverpool, England, but moved to the United States and made a large fortune in the cotton and shipping trade. Barnsley designed a grand manor and created the gardens and the rest of the ground after the works of renowned architect Andrew Jackson-Downing. The cottages that the guest can stay in on the property are also inspired by Jackson-Downing’s works.

During the Civil War, 29,000 Union Army troops occupied the land and, while the manor was not burned down, it was ransacked by some of the troops. It left more than 100 people who called the area home and the family almost destitute.

Once the final member of the Barnsley family died in the 1940s, the estate was auctioned off and eventually fell into disrepair and ruin. A German prince named Hubertus Fugger purchased in 1988 originally just for the timber, but he was persuaded by Coker to clean up the land and reopen the grounds.

The project took two years and in 1991 Barnsley Gardens opened up as a historical attraction. In 1997 the golf course and the resort opened and paved the way to the Barnsley Resort that many know today.

Coker finishes with this on the historical side of the resort; “If you want to see the great treasures of Antebellum America, this is the place to come.”

General Manager Michael Gordon says, “Once you turn left off of the road to enter Barnsley, you automatically decompress and you feel so special that you are able to experience Barnsley.”

Now you know there is place that can trace its history back to before the Civil War and offers a wide variety of amenities that will satisfy any person in your party, whether it is just the two of you or the entire family.

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