A Home to Treasure

Posted on 11 May 2016

By Carolyn Iamon

Photos by Nichole Buchanan

DSC_0946Webster’s Dictionary defines Heritage as something handed down from one ancestor to another, as a characteristic, a culture, or tradition. The Reynolds Family home at 524 E. Shotwell St. is a home deserving of the term heritage. It is full of family history and a treasure to be cherished.

Flanked with huge, spreading landmark oaks, it is the childhood home of Dr. John Reynolds, who was 6 years old when his parents, Reuben M. Reynolds Jr. and Oline Miller Reynolds purchased the home in 1970.

Dr. John recently welcomed us for a tour, pointing out some of the outstanding home features and a bit of the history. 

The stately brick house with the beautiful arched, leaded glass windows, was built in 1923 by Dr. Robert F. Wheat. It is believed that Dr. Wheat conducted his medical practice from his home and what is now the first floor master bedroom was his examining room. The fact that there is an additional front door leading directly outside from the room tends to substantiate that theory.

John described it as a wonderful place for his brothers and himself to grow up. The large lot in back had a barn and a horse pasture where the family kept horses.  

“We used to ride the pony to the store when mom needed something,” he remembered.

Each of the Reynolds boys had their own bedroom upstairs, and to this day when they come home for holidays they stay in their own bedrooms.

In later years the home was noted for its beautiful rose gardens. No article about the Reynolds house would be complete without mentioning the rose gardens that completely filled the back acreage. Oline Reynolds had a passion for roses.

She loved growing and working with roses. She was a Past District Director and served on the board of the American Rose Society. She was a member of the World Federation of Rose Society with whom she was a nationally known and accredited roses judge.

“We were crushed when she took out the horses and put in roses,” Dr. John said.

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Following the death of the parents, both of whom passed away in 2014, the children came together and decided they did not want to see the house leave the family. 

They made a joint decision to keep it and restore it back to the original 1920s as much as possible. This task was undertaken by John’s wife Jean who oversaw the whole procedure including tearing up three layers of carpeting in the downstairs to reveal the beautiful hardwood flooring. She also designed and hung the window treatments and oversaw extensive work done on all the windows of the home and a change out of the master bath. Renovations began in December 2014 and finished in May 2015.  They have made the house available for their cousin Ann Reynolds Griffin and her husband Maston to live there and provide oversight and maintenance.

The home boasts beautiful crystal chandeliers in the hall, the living room, dining room, and some of the bedrooms. The furnishings are a mixture of family heirlooms.

The house also has bits and pieces of other historic Bainbridge buildings. A beautiful tiled wall in the master bathroom was salvaged from Memorial Hospital when its lobby was remodeled. The tiles form a mural of a tropical scene featuring white Ibis. The pressed tin ceiling in the kitchen was salvaged from the Bon Air hotel when it was remodeled. The family had owned the Bon Air for many years before donating it to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Another unusual feature is a large stained glass window located in the downstairs master bath. At one time that window looked out on an attached greenhouse where Oline worked with her roses.

The green house was later relocated nearer the rose gardens and that space converted to what John called “Mom’s study.”

The kitchen has all white cabinets and white tiled walls with intermittent paintings of fruit, flowers and parrots. 

“Mom always loved parrots, and we always had a parrot for as long as I can remember,” said John. 

The last one was named Fred and was kept in a huge cage in the window extension of the great room where he “ruled the roost.”

In the 1990’s the Sr. Reynolds remodeled the kitchen and built on a large paneled family room to the rear of the original house. It adjoins the kitchen with the brick exterior wall retained as a divider. A functional half bath, originally accessed only from the outdoors was there to accommodate the servants. Now that it is incorporated into the new addition, Ann has placed the initials “WC” on the door to identify it as the water closet.

During the Senior Reynolds latter years, as their health declined, the roses too declined and suffered from neglect. Now, most of the back yard has been restored to grass except for two long wide strips of rose beds being developed directly behind the house. The path between the two leads to a huge fountain. Ann said Oline always loved going to auctions and bidding on items. She found the massive fountain in Atlanta, won the bid and had it shipped to Bainbridge where it still graces her rose garden.

As you face the back of the house, there is a tin steeple over the roof of the large bay area of the family room. It is believed that steeple came from the Methodist Church.

Ann said she feels very privileged to be able to live there. She has lived much of her adult life in Atlanta, but moved back to Bainbridge about six years ago.

The home is very special to her because it was occupied by two very dear people she loved, members of her family. She was raised along with the Reynolds boys and was very much a part of their family. “We went on vacations together and celebrated holidays together.”

This means the house stays in the family where perhaps future generations will also settle and enjoy the comfortable heritage of the home.

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