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Artifact Returned To Its Proper Place

Artifact Returned  To Its Proper Place
RETURNING A RELIC – Attorney Charles Andrew has displayed a historic mirror from the old Governor’s Mansion in his law office for several years but is now returning the piece to its proper place.Photo by Makaylee Randolph
Artifact Returned  To Its Proper Place
RETURNING A RELIC – Attorney Charles Andrew has displayed a historic mirror from the old Governor’s Mansion in his law office for several years but is now returning the piece to its proper place.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

The historic location of the Law Offices of Reid Threlkeld and Charles Andrew will soon have a new owner and tenant, as local lawyers Rizza and Daniel O’Connor have purchased the property to transform it into their home. Yet, as many of the historic relics in the building travel to other locations with Threlkeld and Andrew, one historic relic will return to its proper place. “Part of this is factual history and part of it is family lore,” Andrew explained. “The factual history of the mirror is that the Governor’s Mansion was in Milledgeville from around 1836-1864. Sherman started coming then, rampaging with his nasty horde burning all of the government buildings – county courthouses, Governor’s mansions, state capitols – all of that stuff in Georgia. Governor continued from page

Joseph Brown knew that Sherman was on his way to burn everything – Atlanta had already been burned down, and what was left of the Confederates was moving south.”

He said those fleeing Sherman’s terror advised officials in Milledgeville to remove their valuables – such as silverware, gold, and any other treasures – from the Governor’s Mansion or they would be destroyed. These protected items would be moved to Macon, where it was believed Sherman would never venture.

“They were right – Sherman never took Macon,” Andrew continued. “He did get on the other side of the Ocmulgee River and shot a bunch of cannons over the river to shake up things, but he never physically marched to Macon.”

The mirror, along with several other valuables, were transported to Macon prior to Sherman’s arrival. “Lord knows how they got it there – probably by mule train,” he remarked. “It had to be a whole bunch of stuff…and this mirror was part of that stuff.”

When trying to decide where to store the protected items, confederates struggled – they knew not to place the valuables in any government structure in case Sherman did arrive in Macon, and needed somewhere that everything would remain together. “A new college had opened up years before – the Wesleyan College, which was a Methodist college for girls. Some of the furnishings were placed in the college to be used by the women,” Andrew shared. “That college was the old Wesleyan College – not where the school sits today. The old Wesleyan College was in downtown Macon, where the post office sat for years.”

Several decades later, when the college had grown too large for the downtown campus and was moving to its present campus in North Macon, several women graduating from the college took relics from the facility as souvenirs. “My great aunt Rose Andrew McClendon, who lived next door to my family in Perry, had been a student at Wesleyan College and wanted a memento to preserve her memories of the college,” he recalled. “They were having an estate sale because they were moving everything and getting rid of a lot to modernize the college. She bought two mementos at that sale – this mirror, which was wellknown through the Wesleyan community that it came from the Governor’s Mansion, and also a 7-ft divan.”

When this beloved aunt died around 36 years ago, Andrew’s father inherited the mirror and its matching settee, which sits beneath it. “In discussions with Aunt Ruth for many years, [my father] would say, ‘We just don’t have a place to put this thing.’ They had mansions themselves, but they didn’t have 14-foot ceilings like we have here,” Andrew said. “So, she kept it in a barn well-preserved and well-protected for 60 years until she died. When she died, my dad inherited it, and he didn’t know what to do with it, so he kept it in a barn himself, well preserved and well protected, until Reid [Threlkeld] and I bought this historic house, which is known as the Peterson- Jenkins House and is on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Upon the purchase of the grand historic structure, Andrew’s father gave him the mirror to display in the office, as no one else in the family had a structure large enough for the piece. Thus, the mirror has hung on the walls of the office ever since – until now.

“I have felt guilty ever since I got it from Dad because I realized that though we legitimately came to ownership of the thing, I knew it was a piece of history. I don’t care how legitimately we got it – it belongs to the citizens of the State of Georgia and needs to go back to Milledgeville,” he commented.

Around 20 years ago, Andrew contacted the president of Georgia College & State University, whose campus now oversees the historic Governor’s Mansion. He informed him that he had a mirror that belonged to the structure, and he intended to donate it later in life. Therefore, when the sale of Andrew’s law office was finalized, he knew it was time to contact the college for the donation again.

“The young gal managing the desk was awestruck by the call – she told me she would have the president of the college or someone call me shortly…and shortly, I did receive the call,” Andrew remarked with a laugh. “His name is Matt Davis, and he is the curator of all sorts of museums, including this museum. He told me that they would come get the mirror. They said they would get their fine arts movers to come get it as soon as they received a bill of sale.”

When asked what of the story was family lore – because Andrew shared that all of the information above is factual – he shared that the family often said that the mirror was brought to the United States from a castle in England prior to being placed in the Governor’s mansion.

So, as Andrew and Threlkeld’s belongings return home from their conjoined law office, the historic mirror will now travel to a separate home for all to enjoy. Yet, regardless of the mirror’s location, Andrew and his family will always have a personal connection with the piece, as they ultimately restored history to its proper place.

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