New owners Pastor Tim and Catherine “Cathy” Parrish will restore and renovate the Mills House after it is moved to their land in Long County. The refurbished Mills House will incorporate replacement doors, windows and fixtures from another historic home, the Jordye Bacon House, which was torn down in September when efforts to preserve it fell through.
“We tried to get the old Bacon House,” the pastor explained as he inspected the progress that T & T House Moving and Heavy Rigging of Green Cove Springs, Fla., was making toward getting the Mills House ready for its move. “Our church was going to move that house and use it as a parsonage, but we found out at almost the last minute that Georgia Power wouldn’t grant the permit unless 4 feet were taken off the height of the house. There was just no way we could afford to do that and keep the house in its original state.”
Even though they were unable to get the Bacon House, Parrish said his church was allowed to obtain some of the historic home’s stylish old doors, windows and fixtures.
He and his wife then applied to get the Mills House, which its owners, attorneys Joel and Jay Osteen, offered to give away for free to anyone willing to pay to move it.
Parrish said they actually were second in line to get it, behind the Midway Museum. When efforts by the Liberty County Cultural and Historic Preservation Committee failed to raise enough funds to move and restore the Mills House near the museum, Parrish said he was told the house was theirs if they still wanted it.
“When I found out we would be able to get the Mills House and we found a dependable contractor to move it, my wife and I bought some of the Bacon House’s doors and windows from our church,” Parrish said, describing some French doors his wife particularly likes. “After the Mills House is moved and put back together, as part of renovating it, we want to add these French doors to the kitchen, which we’re going to enlarge to 30 feet by 30 feet, so we’ll have a place for family gatherings. We also have some old-style window latches that we want to incorporate into the home.
“Mostly though, anything we use from the Bacon House and anything we do to get the house livable again won’t change the way the house has always looked. As best we can, we want to keep the Mills House like it is.”
The historic home already has been lifted off its 125-year-old foundation and is being cut into three sections for its move, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 13.
Parrish said he is pleased that everything is running on schedule but admitted that T & T House Moving actually was the third contractor he’d worked with. He prefers not to talk about it, however, saying he only wants to focus on getting the Mills House moved and set up on his land.
The pastor noted, though, that he had checked into T & T House Moving in greater detail than the other contractors, and he has been very pleased with the work they are doing.
If the Georgia Department of Transportation approves a permit, Parrish said, the Mills House will leave its current location on the corner of Oglethorpe Highway and Memorial Drive starting around 9 a.m. Jan. 13. The public should be advised of traffic delays.