South Carolina Mansion built by one of the town founders

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina
Date added: November 09, 2023 Categories:
View from South of building, looking North - main facade (1990)

Lookaway Hall was built from 1895 to 1898 for Mr. Walter M. Jackson who, with his brother James U. Jackson, formed the North Augusta Land Company in 1890 in order to "develop those beautiful hills across the river" from Augusta. They purchased approximately 5,600 acres from the Robert Butler estate for One hundred thousand dollars. James Jackson developed a town plan for a community and resort area, and the Land Company built a bridge spanning the Savannah River from Thirteenth Street in Augusta to Georgia Avenue in North Augusta. This main street for the new community ran up the hill and split to create a triangular property for a city park. Beyond this park Walter Jackson sited his house, making it the focal point of the community. It is still a symbol of North Augusta, used on the city seal and considered a landmark by the citizens. It has many ties, not only to the city's founding, but also to several prominent citizens and to the community's social and economic development. It is an imposing example of the Beaux Arts style with its ornate porch detailing which fronts a simple main building mass.

Mr. Walter M. Jackson was the manager of the North Augusta Land Company which was the development company for the community of North Augusta. On March 24th, 1890, this company purchased 5,600 acres from Mrs. Mattie Butler Mealing and on this property planned roads, lights, and water service. After laying out the town, the company sold lots, marketing the community by building a bridge across the Savannah River, opening a trolley line connecting to North Augusta, constructing an interurban road, and promoting the Augusta-Aiken Electric Railway. They also opened a resort hotel in 1902, which helped North Augusta become one of the "three … leading resort (communities) in the country. The community grew quickly as a residential and resort area and was chartered in 1906 with several hundred residents.

Although Walter Jackson was the less prolific of the two brothers, his impact on North Augusta is still evident. Because he began construction of his home before his brother, he chose the most beautiful lot in the City, centered on Georgia Avenue, overlooking the city park, the main street, the river and Augusta beyond. His son, George Jackson, inherited the home and gave it the name "Lookaway" because of the tremendous 180 view from its porch. James Jackson had intended to build his home on the same lot with his brother, but decided to move the site across Carolina Avenue where he built Rosemary Hall. The office for the North Augusta Land Company, though, was in the side wing of Lookaway Hall, and Walter Jackson managed the development of the fast-growing community from there. Thus the home, focal point of the city even today, was the place where the city really began.

The North Augusta Land Company saw the key to a successful new community to be its easy connection to surrounding communities. James U. Jackson, along with this brother, Walter, aggressively pursued improving transportation between Augusta and the surrounding Carolina communities, all paths flowing through newly established North Augusta. In 1891 they built a steel bridge over the Savannah River at Thirteenth Street in Augusta, bringing traffic into North Augusta via Georgia Avenue (which forked at the Lookaway Hall property). A trolley line was added by the Land Company in 1897, connecting Augusta and North Augusta with public transport. This line was active until 1929 when it was replaced by buses. To expand the public transport system, the North Augusta Land Company constructed an interurban road in 1902, the first to be built in the south. It was 25 miles long and connected Augusta to North Augusta, Clearwater, Bath, Langley, Graniteville, Warrenville and to Aiken, serving a population of over twenty-five thousand. This was supplemented by the Augusta-Aiken Electric Railway completed shortly thereafter. This had evolved through the efforts of James Jackson and the establishment of the North Augusta Electric and Improvement Company. So, in short, the North Augusta Land Company was responsible for the development of many initial transportation routes in the Lower Savannah area, most of which still exist as major traffic routes today. These transportation lines brought North Augusta to life and have kept it an active community.

Among the many investments of the North Augusta Land Company, probably the greatest was the formation of the North Augusta Hotel Company and the construction of the Hampton Terrace Hotel. The hotel, located up the hill from Lookaway Hall, was constructed from 1902 to 1903 for the lofty sum of $536,000. It included an 18-hole golf course (one of the first in the area, predating the Augusta National), tennis courts, riding stables, and a 1,500-acre game preserve, as well as one of the most sumptuously appointed hotels in the country. Almost immediately North Augusta rivaled Aiken and Augusta as one of the most prestigious resort areas in the country. Famous families such as the John D. Rockefellers, the Marshall Fields, and the Harvey Firestones were frequent guests, and President Howard Taft regarded the golf course as "challenging as well as impressive!". When Marshall Field visited the Terrace in 1905, his grandsons stayed at Lookaway Hall with the Jackson family.

Lookaway Hall was in the center of the social high life even after the Hampton Terrace burned in 1917 and was not rebuilt. From 1922 1923 the Detroit Tigers held their spring training in Augusta and stayed at Lookaway Hall. The widow of George Jackson, Walter Jackson's son, sold the home to Dr. and Mrs. Henry Getzen Mealing in 1936, and their family lived in the home for over fifty years. Dr. Mealing was the son of the first doctor in North Augusta, one of the founding fathers; he himself was a highly respected physician and citizen. He taught at the Medical College of Georgia, but was probably best known for his magnificent gardens and greenhouses. He cultivated new strains of camellias and provided orchids for Queen Elizabeth II's wedding. His family sold the property in early 1990 to a development company who, in the resort tradition of North Augusta, plans to turn the home into a bed and breakfast inn.

The home is a high-style example of the Beaux-Arts style, being built just two years after the Columbian Exposition of 1893 which made the Beaux-Arts and Revival styles popular in America. The home, at the focal point of the new community, was most likely a symbol of the "good life" that North Augusta could provide. The home also demonstrates the crossover from the Victorian Period to the Eclectic Period. Although the exterior holds true to classical detailing, the interior (especially fireplace mantels and light fixtures) is still strongly influenced by the Victorian style. The home is also said to have been modeled after Barrington Hall in Roswell, Georgia, a Jackson family home. It is believed that the floor plan of Lookaway Hail and the adjacent Rosemary Hall are adapted from the plan of Barrington Hall. However, the classical ornate porch and austere exterior details, coupled with the stained glass windows and Beaux Arts detailing at the entry, make it an exemplary turn-of-the-century home. Apart from the additions at the rear of the home, the interior and exterior have both been unaltered.

Building Description

Lookaway Hall, constructed in the Beaux Arts style between 1895 and 1898, is a two-story, wood frame house covered with white painted weatherboard siding. It is set on solid brick piers with lattice-pattern brick infill, has two-over-two double-hung sash windows, and has a hip roof covered with asphalt shingles. A crucial element is the monumental two-story portico with Ionic columns and a Full entablature, including a frieze festooned with garlands.

The siting of Lookaway Hall, on a hill in a fork in the road overlooking downtown North Augusta, adds to its imposing appearance. The site is approximately 1.5 acres. Its plan is a modified "T" shape with octagonal bays at the protruding sides, producing four rooms symmetrically placed around a central hall downstairs. A single-story addition and a two-story addition have modified its appearance at the rear of the building, but the original roof lines and detailing are still visible.

The distinguishing feature of the south facade is the two-story porch which wraps around to the west elevation. Seven two-story fluted lonic columns (Scamozzi capitals at the corners) accent this facade; a total of nine columns wrap the building. They support an entablature featuring a frieze of festooned detailing surmounted by a cornice with dentil moulding and stylized brackets supporting the roof. This cornice detail continues around the entire roof line of the building. The porch itself is flat roofed; the hip roof beyond is highlighted by a dormer featuring a Palladian window and a double pediment. Four brick chimneys with corbelled caps and inset panels punctuate the roof symmetrically. The porch is a full story above ground at this elevation and is accessed by a set of stairs extending the full length of the center bay, flanked by wrought iron handrails. A gable-roofed dormer with a pedimented gable is centrally placed above the facade.

The main entry, centered on the south facade, consists of a recessed pair of doors with stained glass transom surrounded by ornate detailing including two fluted pilasters on each side of the door which frame stained glass sidelights. The pair of doors are fronted by the original screen doors, complete with scroll detailing. The doors are broken into two panels by a miniature entablature moulding and feature oval and circular raised mouldings and medallions in each corner. This circular moulding is also found below the windows; above each window is a square panel with a "wedding knot" motif in raised trim. The door recess is topped by a scrolled keystone bracket which supports a cornice upon which rests a second-story double-hung sash window centered over the door recess. This window with two-over-two lights is also flanked by a pair of fluted doric pilasters supporting a wide lintel. The pilasters are flanked by scrolls with inset sunburst patterns which complete the grandiose effect of the entry.

The main entry is flanked by oversized windows on both floors, the first-floor windows extending to the floor. They feature heavy window heads, undersized shutters, and two-over-two lights. Beyond the east bay, the small office is recessed behind the main building, its first-floor window having been converted to a door with a large transom. Beyond the west side, the porch wraps around the west elevation with two columns, ending where the projecting bay begins. Double-hung sash windows, similar in detail and proportion to those on the main facade, center on each bay on both floors. Similar windows also center on each side of the bay. The roof of the projecting bay is hip-roofed and extends from the main hip roof. This bay marks the end of the original building. From this point, a one-story wood-sided addition extends, with a recessed porch hidden by a decorative concrete block screen wall.

This one-story addition with flat roof spans approximately half of the north elevation where it intersects a two-story wood-sided addition extending beyond it. Both additions, constructed in the 1940s, feature metal windows grouped in threes, pairs, and singly with simple wood surrounds. Above the one-story addition, second-story windows on the original building can be seen, including one of the stained glass windows in the stairwell. The original building facade appears to step out twice - although the cornice detail continues, from the roof it can be seen that these step-outs are later additions, probably for installations of bathrooms. Sanborn maps of 1918 and 1923 show a one-story structure in this area (possibly a porch), but there is no remaining evidence of this in the basement or around the foundations. Centered over the original rear facade is a simple hip-roofed dormer with paired six light double-hung windows.

The east elevation is similar to the west, featuring a three-sided projecting bay. The bay is topped by a gable roof and pediment featuring brackets in the pediment. The two-story addition dominates this elevation with randomly placed and sized windows. At this elevation, one has the best view of the full basement which extends under the original house as well as under the addition. In the addition, light wells reveal basement windows, and a set of stairs leads down to a basement door. At the original building, smaller basement double-hung sash windows with two-over-two lights are centered under each window in the bay. Paired windows are centered under the windows of the office. Beside the porch, a retaining wall has been used to provide a drive to a service entry under the porch with two separate doors to the basement.

Finally, the site itself adds to the character of the building. Having once been the gardens and nurseries for a previous owner, the site features open spaces, sunken gardens, and a large variety of specimen trees and plants. It is surrounded by a brick wall which varies in height around the property. A two-story brick garage apartment is adjacent to the north elevation of the addition, and a small brick utilitarian building is just west of the main house. The main facade overlooks Calhoun Park, a city-owned park with a fountain and memorial obelisk, and beyond that the main street of North Augusta, the Savannah River, and Augusta, Georgia.

The first-floor plan of the original building consists of a central hall flanked by two rooms on each side. The central hall features a rosemary pine wainscot and a pair of Ionic columns framing the stair. The stair, beautifully detailed in rosemary pine, is U-shaped and runs along the three walls at the back of the hall. The stair is finished with rosemary pine paneling, including the underside of the third stair run. Three stained glass windows with wood surrounds highlight the stairs located at each landing and at the central flight of stairs. A door to the basement is also under this main stair flight. At the front door, curvilinear benches are placed under the stained glass windows that flank the door. The pilaster walls and ceiling are finished with wallpaper.

Each of the front rooms are accessed from the hall by a pair of large, paneled pocket doors. Another set of paired pocket doors opens from the east front room into the east bay room which served as the dining room. Adjacent to the east front room is a small office that features a corner fireplace. The fireplaces in the front rooms seem to be altered, with open fireplaces, brick hearths, simple Georgian mantels, and unfinished surrounds. The remainder of the fireplaces in the home feature ornate metal coal stove inserts, tile hearths, and Victorian mantels. All fireplaces with one exception protrude into the rooms. All rooms in the home feature quarter-sawn pine floors, simple baseboards, and picture moulding. The rear first-floor rooms are distinguished by large bays at one end. They are accessed from the central hall by single paneled doors with classical surrounds featuring corner rosettes. They each contain a large fireplace. The fireplace at the west rear room is flush with the wail, protruding to the exterior. The new additions are accessed through a single door in the dining room (east bay room). A large modern kitchen and eating area extends the entire length of the first floor of the addition, and a large bedroom suite is accessed through the kitchen. A bathroom in the addition is between the eating area and the west bay room.

At the second floor, a hall extends the length of the original building from the east to the west with three bedrooms opening off of it to the front of the house and a bedroom at each of the bays. The bedroom doors have classical surrounds with corner rosettes and large transoms. A bathroom adjacent to the stair opens into the hall. All bedrooms (except for the one at the front center) have fireplaces with Victorian detailing. At the east end of the hall, an open stair with details similar to the main stair leads to the attic. Adjacent to the stair is a hall accessing the new addition which contains a bathroom that serves the east bay bedroom, two other bedrooms and two baths. The floor elevation of the addition is approximately three feet lower than the original second floor, requiring stairs in the hall.

The full attic consists of three spaces. The central area under the main hip roof is lit by the two dormers and includes two large closets at the south end. Doors at each side of this space lead to separate full-height spaces over the bay rooms. The main room and east room have finished floors; the west room does not have a finished floor. The walls between the three spaces are finished with wood siding. None of the spaces have finished ceilings.

The basement is broken into a series of small apartments, three in the original building and two in the addition. These include small bathrooms, kitchens, and windows that look out under the porch. The walls are masonry, with the footings exposed at the bays and around the fireplaces. The ceilings are low with boxed-out ductwork. The floors are concrete. The basement was most likely finished as a renovation.

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from South of building, looking North - main facade (1990)
View from South of building, looking North - main facade (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from west of building, looking east, side elevation (1990)
View from west of building, looking east, side elevation (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from northwest of building, looking southeast - rear elevation (1990)
View from northwest of building, looking southeast - rear elevation (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from northwest of building, looking east - rear additions (1990)
View from northwest of building, looking east - rear additions (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from east of building, looking west - side elevations (1990)
View from east of building, looking west - side elevations (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from south of building, looking north - house with surroundings (1990)
View from south of building, looking north - house with surroundings (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from east of building, looking west - house with gardens (1990)
View from east of building, looking west - house with gardens (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from west of building, looking northeast - garage apartment (1990)
View from west of building, looking northeast - garage apartment (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from foyer, looking south - main entry (1990)
View from foyer, looking south - main entry (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from foyer, looking north - main staircase (1990)
View from foyer, looking north - main staircase (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from southeast parlor, looking west - foyer and twin parlor (1990)
View from southeast parlor, looking west - foyer and twin parlor (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from south end of foyer, looking northeast - southeast parlor (1990)
View from south end of foyer, looking northeast - southeast parlor (1990)

Lookaway Hall, North Augusta South Carolina View from north end of foyer, looking east - dining room (1990)
View from north end of foyer, looking east - dining room (1990)