Coweta County was opened for settlement by the 1827 Land Lottery. The land lot, a full 202 acres on which the house now stands was won in the lottery. It was eventually purchased in 1834 from the estate of William Salisbury by Bennett H. Conyers of Coweta County. In 1847, he was one of the incorporators of the Atlanta and West Point Railroad which ran through this property. The house may have been built during this time period. The land on which the house stands, as well as 1096 surrounding acres was purchased by Rev. John Q. West of Wilkes County in 1851.
All of the land was then sold on April 28, 1852 to John B. Willcoxon. Mr. Willcoxon had become one of Coweta County's most successful businessmen when he left his family's farm in the country to practice law. It is presumed that he probably built the house in 1852. Willcoxon served with distinction in the Civil War, leading a company of cavalry from Coweta. Both before and after the war, he managed a large plantation from this property, even though it eventually was included within the city limits of Newnan. In 1867, Colonel Willcoxon built a cotton yarn factory that was vital to the recovery of Newnan after the war. After the death of his first wife in 1857, Willcoxon remarried in 1861. His wife, the former Harriett Cleveland, formed the local Ladies Memorial Association to remember the men that fought to preserve the honor of the South. She headed a fund drive that built a monument to the Confederate dead that still stands on the east side of the old courthouse. Colonel Willcoxon served in the House of Representatives from 1875-1876 and was described as "one of Coweta's best and wealthiest citizens". He died in 1896. His funeral cortege left from this house.
The house was them occupied by serveral different family concerns until the children and step children of the Willcoxons sold it to the Arnold family in 1913. During the time the house was owned by the Arnold family, it was known as Shadow Lawn. This appeared in the 1928 history of Coweta County. The Arnold children owned the house for nearly 40 years, just a few years less than Mr. Willcoxon. Hence, their name is also attached to the house.
The home and the seven remaining acres were sold to Daniel B. Blalock (1887-1979). The funeral home was opened in this house in 1953. Mr. Blalock was involved in many areas in and around Coweta County. He served as an elected official in our Georgia government and was known for his ability to entertain Senators and Governors in his home, Coweta County. He was a help to people in need during this difficult time in our county. Many of his deeds went unnoticed by many except for the familes that he helped in the funeral home as well as throughout this area.
In 1991 the funeral home, under the guidance of the Blalock family, was nominated for the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. On May 20, 1991 the Willcoxon/Arnold House was also listed on the National Registry of Historic Preservation. Hillcrest Chapel Funeral Home has been continuously serving the community for over 55 years. The Higgins Family is proud to be a part of this legacy of excellence in funeral service. Of equal importance is the preservation of this historic structure for future generations.
The house is a fine example of the use of the Greek Revival style of architecture used toward the end of the original revival period, 1840's-1850's. The house has two full columned Doric colonades, a rare feature in a Georgia house. The purpose was that the house was viewed from two major roads at the time, and the lady of the house did not want anyone to think they were entering from the rear of the house--thus the two identical sides. The house is constructed of brick which was also an unusual feature for its time. The house is one of the finest antebellum examples that is still standing in Coweta County, and the only ALL brick home remaining.
The house is two full stories high with a floor plan of four over four. It has full width two story porticos with the Doric fluted columns on front and rear. It has a hipped roof with double ornate brackets under the eaves, and most of the two- pieced louvered blinds on the windows are original. The balcony on the west side has turned balusters and the east side is supported by ornamental circles with slender posts. On the interior, there are plastered walls, double paneled pocket doors, simple millwork and original door hardware of white porcelain. The grounds contain specimen magnolias and dogwoods. There are two historic out buildings that still remain and are also part of the National Registy. The larger of the two was servant housing during the 1800's and the smaller was for dry storage.
A special thanks to the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society for sharing all this information.
Credits and additional information may be found at the Male Academy Museum in Newnan.