Find Fabulous Fall Foliage in Rome, GeorgiaWalk Through Oak Hill, the Old Mill, and Possum Trot Church!
Martha Berry, who founded the College, ranks among Georgia’s most prominent women in the first half of the 20th century. Her idea — and investment of both time and money — provided hundreds of poor, yet academically capable, children to get an education. She started in 1902, providing a boarding school for boys, then seven years later, welcomed girls as well.
In fact, in 1930, Good Housekeeping Magazine named Martha Berry as one of the nation’s 12 most influential women.
Possum Trot Church
With 27,000 acres (110 km2), Berry College possesses one of the largest contiguous campuses in the world. As you can imagine, that means there are lots of fabulous fall walks that allow you to explore the campus’s many historic places. Possum Trot is one of them.
Before she started the campus, Martha Berry worked with local young people. Around 1900, she had decided the abandoned Possum Trot Church in the Possum Trot Settlement would serve her purposes. So, she had it repaired and began to hold Sunday School classes in it.
Three classrooms were added in the 1930s. These served as an elementary school for local children off and on until 1954. A homecoming is still held there every year, on the third Sunday in September.
The Old Mill
I found the Old Mill area not only one of the most fabulous fall walks on the grounds of Berry Hill, but also one of the most fascinating historic places.
In fact, the 42 foot diameter wooden overshot waterwheel is considered one of the largest in the world. Its iron hub was donated by the Republic Mining and Manufacturing Company. What’s even more remarkable is that student workers built it at the college in 1930.
After the mill was built, students, along with a miller who supervised, ground corn that was used in the college kitchens. It ran using water pumped from Berry’s reservoir lake.
I found the wheel and small stone building, where they nestled in the colorful fall foliage, one of the most photogenic fall sites I’ve every run into!
In 1937 the Frost family donated money for a chapel. They had admired the religious life at Berry, and decided to honor their son’s life with a cash donation for a chapel after he died of polio. The students and staff did all the construction work.
Frost Chapel held weekly services for the Berry School for Boys and Berry Academy until 1983. Now, the historic stone building provides a serene spot to enjoy the fall foliage.
Martha Berry MuseumThe Martha Berry Museum opened in 1972, along with her home, Oak Hill. The museum’s most important permanent display is a Timeline Exhibition about the college. My favorite artifacts included Martha’s personal typewriter and a spinning wheel used to train the first girls’ classes in mountain crafts.
While she had many students, Martha’s dedication to helping those least fortunate really showed with Eugene Gunby’s story. Eugene couldn’t walk, but still wanted to go to school. So, Martha had students build him a three-wheeled cart that resembled a tricycle. He used it to independently get around the school. Later, Gunby became a judge in Fulton County.
In addition to information about Martha, the museum is also home to an art gallery and temporary exhibitions.
Originally, a Victorian farmhouse built in 1847 stood where Oak Hill is located. Indeed, Union soldiers stayed in it during the Civil War. In 1884, about a dozen years after the Berry family purchased it, the farmhouse burned down and was rebuilt as a Greek style revival home. That’s when it became Oak Hill.
Tours guide visitors through the home and its original furnishings, along with the outbuildings and gardens. Take an fabulous fall walk down the easy bridal path while you’re there, or enjoy the colors of the Sundial garden no matter the season. I particularly enjoyed visiting the carriage house, with many of the original vehicles, from carriages to cars, that Martha owned. Her last? A 1940 Mercury.
Visit Oak Hill and the Martha Berry Museum
Oak Hill and the Martha Berry Museum are open year-round. For hours of operation, click here to check online.
Street address: 24 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Rome, GA
On the Web at: http://www.berry.edu/oakhill/
I visited Berry College, Oak Hill, and the Martha Berry Museum as a guest of the Greater Rome Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. See: http://romegeorgia.org/visit-rome/
What fabulous fall walks have you taken?
Please share your fabulous fall walks in the comments below!