Arson blamed for fire that destroyed historic home on Georgia plantation site | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Arson blamed for fire that destroyed historic home on Georgia plantation site

DARIEN, Ga. (AP) — A man has been charged with starting a fire that destroyed a nearly century-old home on the site of a coastal Georgia rice plantation that's associated with the largest slave auction in U.S. history, authorities said Friday.

Firefighters raced to the Huston House in McIntosh County on Wednesday after smoke was seen billowing from the spacious white farmhouse. But flames completely destroyed the home, built in 1927 by former New York Yankees co-owner T.L. Huston.

Witnesses described a man they spotted leaving the house after the fire began, and a sheriff's deputy detained a suspect fitting that description, McIntosh County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Ward said in a news release Friday. He said the 33-year-old man had items taken from the house and was charged with arson, theft and other crimes after being questioned by investigators.

Long before Huston built a home there, the site had spent decades as a rice plantation before the Civil War. In 1859, owner Pierce Mease Butler infamously took more than 400 enslaved people to Savannah and sold them in what's considered the largest slave auction in U.S. history. Held amid a torrential downpour, the sale became known as the Weeping Time.

By the time of the fire, the Huston House and the surrounding property were owned by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The home was unoccupied and had fallen into disrepair.

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation included the house on its 2019 list of Georgia's most threatened historic sites.

“Despite the site’s association with a difficult period in the history of our state, the property is nonetheless an important historic resource that allows us to tell Georgia’s full and complete story," W. Wright Mitchell, the Georgia Trust's president and CEO, said in a news release. "Unfortunately, when historic buildings are allowed to sit vacant and neglected for long periods of time, fire is not uncommon.”

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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