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The stories behind the rooms of Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast

 

The Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast located in the heart of Downtown Watkinsville.                              Photo by Matt Brewster.

On a summer afternoon, I sat in the main room of the Victorian-style Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast with owners Dave and Mario. The owners took me on the journey of the inspirational stories behind three of their most-talked about rooms: the Asian Room, the Safari Room, and the Penthouse Suite. The décor in each room tells the stories of the owners’ personal experiences and styles– stories shared by guests after an intimate stay at the bed and breakfast.

The Asian Room

The Asian Room decorated in Japanese kimonos and collectibles found  in Asia.

Inspired by Dave’s two-year stay in Kyoto, Japan in the late 1980s, the Asian room is filled with items collected from the Toji Temple in Japan. Dave compares the Toji Temple to Athens, Georgia’s J & J Flea Market, except filled with traditional Japanese items that dates back 200 to 500 years. In the Asian room, guests are surrounded by traditional kimonos, a collection of Japanese dishware, a rare Netsuke collection, and other items collected from his and his family’s journeys in China, Korea, and Indonesia.

“Each of the rooms were unique and creatively decorated. We stayed in the Asian room and I spent a great deal of time just looking at the artifacts and interesting items arranged about the room.” –Unguidedmissal via TripAdvisor

Japanese dishware collected from the Toji Temple.

 

The Safari Room

The Safari Room filled with an eclectic collection of travels, mostly in Africa.

Dave and Mario describe the Safari room as an “eclectic mix of travel souvenirs,” mostly from travels in Egypt and Kenya. The room gives off an exterior vibe with mosquito netting and a tin ceiling, and actually is entered through the outside porch of the manor. Interestingly, the bathroom of the room was built using re-purposed wood and windows from the Ashford family’s picnic house, which was damaged  and unused when the current owners bought the home.

“Our room (the Safari Room) was fantastic! It was filled with all sorts of wonderful world travel details-even in the bathroom. The location was great, being situated on the main street of an old town area.” – Marion H. via TripAdvisor

The outside entrance of the Safari Room.

The Penthouse

The bedroom of the Penthouse Suite.

The Penthouse Suite, the owners say, is the collective aesthetics of the owners. The sitting room is described as “French Provincial” with pink drapes and floral arrangements. Guests then take the stairs to a cathedral-like, Gothic bathroom with two skylights revealing the peak of the bed and breakfast and the peak of the Ashford Church next door. The bedroom of the suite is architecturally unique being the highest point of the manor. Dave’s late brother, Jim—who worked at the late singer Prince’s Paisley Park— embraced his theatrical background to design the bedroom in hues of black, gray, and silver.

“I stayed in the Penthouse and felt like royalty! It has everything you could possibly need. The staff was so friendly and helpful and the breakfasts were phenomenal.” –Pam B. of Lantana, FL via TripAdvisor

The sitting room of the Penthouse Suite described as “French Provincial.”

The Gothic, cathedral-like bathroom of the Penthouse Suite.

 

Immerse yourself in the stories of these rooms and others by booking a stay at Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast located in the heart of Downtown Watkinsville. The manor is walking distance from a dozen restaurants, art exhibitions and galleries, and specialty shops.

 

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4 Facts about Elder Mill Covered Bridge

The Elder Mill Covered Bridge is one of 13 functioning covered bridges left in Georgia.

Oconee County’s Elder Mill Covered Bridge is one of Georgia’s 13 covered bridges that carries traffic. The bridge is a popular attraction in Watkinsville, and is the only covered bridge featured along Georgia’s Antebellum Trail. Check out these four facts about the bridge, including some of the notable people who influenced the bridge.

1. The bridge once connected Watkinsville and Athens

Before its move to Elder Road off of Highway 15 in 1924, the Elder Mill Covered Bridge connected Watkinsville and Athens-Clarke County. The two neighboring cities share a long history, as Watkinsville initially served as the county seat of Clarke County before the founding of Oconee County in 1875. Watkinsville is only a stone’s throw from Athens, with Clarke and Oconee sharing the city of Bogart and some parts of Athens existing within the county lines of Oconee.

 

Once connecting Athens and Watkinsville above Calls Creek, the bridge now sits above Rose Creek.

2. Its structure is known as Town’s Lattice Truss

Most of America’s covered bridges were built between 1825 and 1875. The maker of the Elder Mill Covered Bridge, Nathaniel Richardson, built the bridge in 1897 using Town’s lattice truss form, which was patented by architect Ithiel Town in 1820 and 1835. The structure utilizes a large number of smaller planks for easy labor. The Elder Mill Covered Bridge is one of the few covered bridges in the state that carries traffic without the additional support of steel beams.

 

The bridge was built in 1897 by Nathaniel Richardson using Town’s lattice truss structure.

3. The bridge was saved with funds granted by former U.S. President and Georgia Governor, Jimmy Carter

In 1974, the bridge endured termite damage and was deemed unsafe for traffic. An Oconee resident who oversaw much of the upkeep and traffic of the bridge reached out to former President Jimmy Carter, Georgia’s governor at the time, and received $2,500 to repair the bridge. Three years later, President Carter began his presidential term, serving until 1981.

 

The Elder Mill Covered Bridge provided access to the Elder family’s mill in 1924.

4. It’s named after the family of David Elder, soldier in the Revolutionary War

David Elder, born in Brunswick County, Virginia, arrived in Oconee County after his military service during the Revolutionary War granted him land in Oconee County. Descendants of the family have lived in Oconee County for more than 200 years, long after his death in 1853. After the bridge’s move from Calls Creek, the bridge provided access to the family’s mill—Elder Mill (hence the name of the bridge and road the bridge sits on). David Elder’s memorial stone can also be found along Highway 15 in the Elder Cemetery, approximately 2 miles from the covered bridge.

 

 Sources: Athens Banner-Herald & Georgia House Resolution 224

 

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A Weekend Guide to Perspectives, Georgia’s Premier Pottery Event

 

Georgia’s largest pottery showcase and sale is on the horizon! PERSPECTIVES: Georgia Pottery Invitational is a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event hosted by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF). The 20-day event in Watkinsville features pottery exhibits, demonstrations and studio tours. From Aug. 25 to Sept. 13, 2017,artists and art lovers will experience a showcase of 6,000 handmade, functional pieces by 50 Georgia potters. Here’s a weekend guide to Georgia’s premier pottery event of the year.

Where to Stay

Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast located in the heart of Downtown Watkinsville. Photo provided by Matt Brewster.

Just a short walk from OCAF is the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast. Listed as one of the top inns to stay in Georgia, the bed and breakfast provides an inviting and relaxing environment with a pool and beautiful garden. The Victorian-style manor also features themed rooms raved about by national and international guests.

For a traditional lodging experience, the award-winning Springhill Suites by Marriott Athens is located just a few short miles from OCAF with on-site and off-site gym and pool access. Book your room soon; the popular hotel fills fast!

What to Do

One of three exhibits at Perspectives: Georgia Pottery Invitational.

Friday

On Friday, arrive at your hotel to view the three-part pottery exhibit and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces. Items will include mugs, cooking dishes, tea pots, large pots and much more. The Opening Gala will take place on Aug. 25 at Rocket Hall. Enjoy refreshments and live jazz music performed by local band Period Six. The opening reception is an exclusive opportunity to view and purchase pottery before the exhibits are open to the public.

Saturday

After a full breakfast complimentary of your stay, head over to the Rocket Hall Courtyard, where potters will perform pottery demonstrations focused on wheel throwing and hand building techniques. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26-27, renowned artist Naoki Izumi will lead a workshop on the methods and secrets of Echizen pottery, one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan.

Dining at Chops & Hops in Downtown Watkinsville.

In your free time, enjoy shopping in Historic Downtown Watkinsville with unique shops that feature art galleries, clothes and accessories, home and garden décor, antiques and more. You can also explore popular lunch options in the area like unique burgers at The Traveling Hobo Café, ribs at JB’s Smokin’ Barbeque and a classic BBQ sandwich at Hot Thomas BBQ. End the night with dinner at Chops & Hops, an unforgettable fine dining experience. For more dining options, visit visitoconee.com/dining.

Sunday

Wake up to Sunday brunch at Girasoles with Mexican-Mediterranean fused dishes crafted by Chef Zambrano. On Sept. 3 and Sept. 10, well-known Georgia potter Michael Pitts will host Gallery Talks with discussions on pottery styles, clays, glazes and firing techniques.

The Elder Mill Covered Bridge built in 1897.

Finally, a serene view and a classic photo at the Elder Mill Covered Bridge is the perfect way to end your trip before traveling home.

For more information on Perspectives, visit visitoconee.com/perspectives.

This post was first published on blog.exploregeorgia.org.

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Oconee County: Then and Now

The historic community of Oconee County has undergone quite a few transformations while maintaining some of its historic beauty. Take a glimpse of what six historic sites in Oconee County looked like in the past:

 

 

Left photo courtesy of Oconee Historical Society on Facebook.

The Eagle Tavern Museum formerly served as a 16-room stagecoach stop for travelers in the mid-1800s. The building, which was built circa 1801, now serves as a house museum in its original Plain-style structure. The right picture shows the Eagle Tavern in the mid-1900s before the building’s restoration. Today, you can visit the Tavern and stand on its original flooring which is more than 200-years-old!

 

 

Left photo courtesy of Oconee Historical Society on Facebook.

The Oconee County Courthouse has always sat directly across from the Eagle Tavern in some form along Main Street in Downtown Watkinsville. The county has had four courthouses since its founding in 1875. The structure to the left was built in 1887; the current structure was built in 1939.

 

 

Left photo courtesy of Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast.

Also located along Main Street in Watkinsville is the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast. The manor was the home of William and Louisa Booth Ashford and their family in the mid-1800s. However, the original home is no longer standing. The now standing Ashford Manor was built in 1893 by the couple’s son, A.W. Ashford. The picture to the left was taken in the 1920s. The Victorian-style manor now serves as a bed and breakfast surrounded by beautiful gardens.

 

 

The history of Downtown Watkinsville continues to live on along Main Street. Pictured to the left is the Ashford Store. Built before 1900, this building is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Watkinsville. The building now houses Orchard Street Boutique and neighbors Spectrum Metals and Main Street Barbershop.

 

 

To the left is Main Street in Bishop, GA circa 1918. Downtown Bishop is located along Highway 441, connecting Watkinsville and Madison. Once a post office, the building shown is now home to one of the many antique stores in Bishop, Tracks of Time Antiques.

 

 

To the left is Main Street in Bogart at the turn of the 20th century. The street runs parallel to the railroad, where a few structures in the shown area still stand today occupied by small businesses.

 

Be sure to visit these sites during your trip to Oconee County. For more information or assistance with planning your trip, contact us.

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A Guide to Elder Mill Covered Bridge

 

 

Breathtaking only minimally describes the view of Watkinsville’s Elder Mill Covered Bridge. The bridge, which was built in 1897, was originally positioned between Watkinsville and Athens. It now sits boldly above Rose Creek just five miles from downtown Watkinsville off of Hwy 15 on Elder Mill Rd. A Georgia Antebellum Trail attraction, the bridge is popular among visitors and residents of Oconee County who often stop by to capture amazing pictures. Here are a few tips to consider before your visit:

Tip 1: Drive an average-sized vehicle. The bridge is restrictive to oversized vehicles.

Tip 2: Bring a camera. Visiting the Bridge is a must-capture moment and great for family photos.

Tip 3: Wear tennis shoes. Wear hiking-appropriate shoes to get a closer view of Rose Creek.

Tip 4: Prepare for BBQ. Watkinsville’s popular restaurant, Hot Thomas BBQ, is less than 5 minutes away.

Tip 5: Take in the moment. The calming sounds of Rose Creek and the isolated scenic view are unmatched.

 

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Why Oconee County should be on your bucket list

While there are a million reasons to love and visit Oconee County-Watkinsville, I want to share the experiences you don’t get in too many counties. Oconee may be small, but it’s packed with a lot history and uniqueness. So sit back and let me tell you why you should be planning your trip to visit us . . . now!

Georgia’s Antebellum Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are only seven cities on the famous Georgia Antebellum Trail, and yes, one of those cities is our very own Watkinsville. You can plan 3- or 4-day trips from Athens to Macon and visit some of the most historic communities and landmarks in the state! When you stop in Watkinsville, enjoy the history of the Eagle Tavern Museum and Elder Mill Covered Bridge, and the many art galleries and exhibits featuring local and national artists.

 

Largest Pottery Show in Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They don’t call us the Artland of Georgia for nothing! In addition to our numerous art galleries and shops, we are home to Perspectives, one of the largest pottery shows in the southeast. Yes, that’s 12 states and lots of cities! The event has even been listed in the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events for the past two years. Stop by OCAF (Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation) in August and September to see the popular pottery showcase. With our talented local artists and beautiful exhibits and galleries, we make a huge scene in the South when it comes to art.

 

Elder Mill Covered Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I previously noted, we are also home to one of only 13 functional covered bridges left in Georgia. The Elder Mill Covered Bridge was built in 1897 and sits above the peaceful and beautiful Rose Creek. This bridge has been on many visitors’ bucket lists resulting in awesome pictures, so why isn’t it on yours?

Locally Grown Foods

 

 

 

 

 

“Homemade” is a rarity nowadays. Take a break from the norm and choose from our fresh and locally grown produce. Stop by Washington Farms to pick your own fresh berries and other seasonal items. Thomas Orchards is sure to please with its delicious homemade peach ice cream. Also, our Farmer’s Market won’t disappoint with its array of locally grown foods available downtown each Saturday from April to November.

I’m sure I’ve convinced you so here’s a link to where you should stay during your visit in Oconee, http://bit.ly/1WBl1iv. Stop by the welcome center and say hi!

 

 

Helpful Links

Georgia Antebellum Trail

Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF)

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Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas: Holiday Happenings

‘Tis the season for holiday lights, shopping and events! Get in the spirit in Watkinsville and celebrate the holiday season with events, sales, and holiday displays.

 

EVENTS

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Watkinsville’s annual Holiday Tree Lighting is a prime event for the season. On the first Friday in December, spectators gather along Main Street for holiday carols, hot chocolate, cookies, and the lighting of the holiday tree in Downtown Watkinsville.

The next day, December 3, the city and the Oconee Enterprise will host its annual Watkinsville Christmas Parade at 11 a.m. The parade travels throughout Downtown Watkinsville and features extravagant floats, bands, and local organizations.

Next up is Mingle with Kringle, a popular Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF) tradition for children. The event will take place on December 10, and includes storytelling, photos with Kringle, arts and crafts, and a puppet show. This year’s event will also feature a theatrical performance by Doug Berkey.

What’s December without a holiday musical? Brightstone Productions will present Christmas at the Five and Dime at the Oconee County Civic Center December 15-18. The performance is set in the 1940s in a large department store.

 

DISPLAYS

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In addition to the the many events in town are also holiday displays. The rare and historic Elder Mill Covered Bridge, which sits above Rose Creek, will be decorated in colorful holiday lights throughout the season.

Also, the Eagle Tavern Museum, once a stagecoach stop, will be decorated in period-themed holiday décor and live greenery as visitors explore the life of travelers in the 1800s. The Eagle Tavern Museum will have a special opening after the Christmas Parade and a Holiday Open House in December.

The Oconee County Welcome Center is also a popular stop during the holidays with a grand window display of a Dickens Village.

 

SHOPPING

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Photo courtesy of Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF).

Happy Valley Pottery will host its Holiday Open House & Sale November 25-27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The holiday open house and sale will include art demonstrations in raku and glassblowing, and will feature pottery, paintings, jewelry, candles, and bath products for sale.

At the OCAF Holiday Market, shop for more unique gifts for friends and family. The three-day event will showcase and sell paintings, jewelry, sculptures, folk art, photography, clay, food, soaps, and more! The market will also feature OCAF’s Artists’ Shoppe, which will be available from December 2 – 23. The Artist Shoppe sells the handcrafted work of OCAF members.

Take on these events and more with a stay at the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast, a Victorian-style manor built in the 1930s. For more on holiday shopping and happenings in Watkinsville, follow Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas holiday series on Facebook.

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Top 5 for a UGA Game Day Weekend

The UGA Bulldogs kicked off the 2016 football season with a win over the University of North Carolina on Saturday. Now with the Dawgs’ first home game of the season approaching, the excitement for Game Day between the hedges is near. In between cheering on the Dawgs and tailgating in Athens, find time to unwind in Watkinsville-Oconee County with our Top 5 List Georgia Fans must experience:

 

1. Dinner at Chops & Hops: A hometown favorite, the locally-owned fine dining establishment has been occupied by Georgia Dawgs quite often. Experience the great food and nice atmosphere that UGA students and athletes travel just 8 short miles for.

2. Downtown Shopping: Pick out your game day outfit at Orchard Street Boutique and Empire South, or find unique treasures for your home at Attic Treasures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Antique Shopping: If Attic Treasures inspires you, drive down to Bishop where you can find a cluster of antique stores all within one mile of each other along Highway 441.

4. Elder Mill Covered Bridge: If you’re traveling south, stop by this rare Georgia beauty. The bridge is one of only 13 functioning covered bridges in the state. Click here for a guide to visiting the 1890s bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Washington Farms: The popular farm won’t open for the fall season until late September, but it’s the perfect way to enjoy a Georgia fall weekend. The farm will feature a corn maze, petting zoo, pumpkin patch, and much more.