Robert Taylor

Born in Ireland in 1787, as a child immigrated with his family to Savannah, GA, in the 1790's.  Taylor grew up to become a wealthy cotton merchant and planter, and his family would often spend summers at their plantation in Morgan County.  Around 1844, he built this Greek revival mansion as a summer home in Athens.  When his three sons entered the University of Georgia, the Taylors became permanent residents of Athens.  Taylor was commissioned a Brigadier General in the Georgia Militia, and although he resigned his commission in 1845, he was always addressed as "General" Taylor.  He died in 1859, the owner of over 17,000 acres throughout Georgia, and his estate was valued at more than $450,000.

 

Henry Grady, Courtesy of Special Collections & Archives , Georgia State University Library.

Henry Grady, Courtesy of Special Collections Archives , Georgia State University Library.

The portrait of General Robert Taylor hanging in the Taylor Grady House.

The portrait of General Robert Taylor hanging in the Taylor Grady House.

Henry W. Grady

Henry Grady as born in Athens in 1850.  His father, Major William S. Grady, bought this house from the Taylor family in 1863 while on furlough from the Confederate Army.  Because renters were living in the house at the time, Major Grady went back to the war without moving his family and was later killed at the Battle of Petersburg in Virginia.  Henry Grady lived here from 1865, while he attended the University of Georgia, until 1868 when he graduated.  He once referred to the house as "an old southern home, with its lofty pillars, and its white pigeons fluttering down through the golden air."  Grady eventually became managing editor of the Atlanta Constitution and was known as an impressive orator.  

In December, 1886, he delivered his "New South" speech at the New England Club in New York City, whose members included prominent financial figures J. P. Morgan and Charles Tiffany.  He began his speech with a quote from fellow Georgian, Benjamin H. Hill, "There was a South of slavery and secession; that South is dead . . . a South of union and freedom; that South, thank God, is living, breathing, growing every hour," and his listeners responded with wild applause.  He became a national figure overnight, stressing in his speeches and writings the need for reconciliation and economic development.  At the age of 39, Henry Grady died of pneumonia in Atlanta.

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