Discover Georgia’s Grandest Plantation, Epitome of Southern Belle Grace and Charm!

The Tarver Plantation, located near Albany, Georgia, stands as the largest plantation in the state and remains privately owned to this day, having been sold for several million dollars a few years ago. In this article, we will delve into the historical background of this remarkable estate.

Historical Background

Origins and Early Years

Constructed around 1850, the Tarver Plantation is an impressive Greek Revival plantation house that originally encompassed 3,700 acres, solidifying its status as the state’s largest plantation. On this vast land, a variety of crops thrived, including cotton, peas, corn, oats, sweet potatoes, and beans. Notably, the plantation operated with enslaved labor until the onset of the Civil War when it shifted to a sharecropping system.

The Civil War Era

During the tumultuous period of the American Civil War, the Tarver Plantation played a pivotal role in supporting the Confederate government. It served as a vital source of food and essential supplies, significantly contributing to the Confederacy’s war efforts. Situated in Southwest Georgia, this plantation-rich region was often referred to as the “Egypt” and “Breadbasket” of the Confederacy due to its abundant agricultural resources, with Tarver Plantation being a key supporter.

The Tarver Family’s Role

At the heart of the plantation were Henry Andrew Tarver and his wife, Elizabeth Solomon Tarver. Henry, born in 1826 in Twiggs County, Georgia, married Elizabeth in 1850, a native of Twiggs County. During this period, the family constructed the expansive plantation house, and together, they raised ten children between 1850 and 1871.

Post-Civil War Transition

Following the Civil War, like many large plantations, the Tarver Plantation transitioned from a system based on slavery to one relying on sharecropping, reflecting broader social and legal changes at the time. However, this shift allowed the plantation to continue its operations. Notably, Henry Tarver briefly served in the Georgia House of Representatives during this period.

Ownership Changes and Restoration

In the mid-20th century, the plantation changed hands and purpose. In the 1940s, Russell A. Alger Jr. of Chicago acquired the property, transforming it into a hunting preserve for quail. He undertook the restoration of the main house, which had fallen into disrepair, with architect Edward Vason Jones leading the restoration efforts while preserving the plantation’s Greek Revival character, albeit with some adjustments and additions.

More Ownership Changes

In 1947, just a few years after the restoration, Mr. and Mrs. Don Hunter of Cleveland, Ohio, acquired the plantation, renaming it “Tarva” to align with the southern pronunciation of the Tarver family name. While restoration efforts continued, the property remained privately owned. Upon Mrs. Hunter’s passing, the property was inherited by Miss Barbara Hunter.

Property Description

The estate rests on mostly flat terrain, featuring swamps and ponds scattered throughout. Accessible via a property road, the primary focal point is the main plantation house, around which all other structures were situated. Unfortunately, many of the additional outbuildings, including the slave quarters, no longer exist.

The Greek Revival House

Central to the plantation is the Tarver Plantation house, a one-story, wood-framed structure built in the Greek Revival architectural style. It boasts a symmetrical main block with front and side porticoes supported by square wooden posts. The house’s exterior is predominantly weatherboarded, with a hipped roof extending over the front facade, forming a full-width portico. Inside, the house features a cross-hallway floor plan, a unique feature of the time, arranged in the shape of a Greek cross. The interior retains original details, including door and window moldings, mantels, and pine flooring.

Service Buildings and Surroundings

The grounds of Tarver Plantation include several service buildings, each with its specific purpose, though many have been repurposed over the years. Unfortunately, many of the historical buildings no longer stand. However, among those that remain are a guest cottage, a pool house, and a tennis court. Additionally, there is an office that sometimes serves as a guest house, a horse barn, and a tenant house, most of which were constructed during the 1940s remodel. There are also fenced dog kennels on the property.

Slave Cemetery

Notably, the property includes a historical slave cemetery, which has been preserved. Regrettably, only one labeled grave remains, but it is believed that several other slaves are interred nearby. Given the vastness of the plantation, there may even be more slave burials at other locations within the estate, underlining its historical significance as the largest plantation in Georgia.


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