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Nov 01

Bearden's Stable

Posted on November 1, 2023 at 2:06 PM by Ken Kocher

Newspaper clipping stating Fire at MadisonThe Savannah Morning News, August 5, 1892

Capt. F.B. Terry ran a livery stable in a large wooden building on the corner of Second Street (now Academy) and W. Washington Street in 1892 (Amici's). On August 5 of that year a fire destroyed the building, Terry narrowly escaping death by jumping from a window. He lost one horse, one mule, and several fine carriages and buggies. Several small adjoining houses were also destroyed. M.E. High offered use of his stables to Terry and petitioned Mayor E.W. Butler to allow Terry to conduct a livery business in his stables without taking out a new license. Butler refused. According to the Savannah Morning News, “[This] angered Mr. High. He met Mayor Butler on the streets. Some words passed between them, and the two men clinched. Friends interfered and the two gentlemen were separated without any great personal injury to either. The mayor’s coat was nearly torn off while Mr. High’s finger was hurt slightly.” F.B. Terry does not appear to have opened another livery stable in Madison, eventually moving to Griffin.

Meanwhile, the lot where Terry’s stable had been remained vacant. The Madisonian lamented in 1893, “Now, if somebody will improve the burnt livery stable lot… that part of the city would look better.” It would be four years before anyone heeded this call. In 1897 J.T. Newton, who owned the lot, built brick stables for G.A. Bearden’s use. Hence, the structure’s original name: the Newton Building. Almost immediately, Bearden (known as Gabe), added a forty-foot wooden addition to the rear. There was a lot going on there. In addition to the feeding, hitching, trading, and swapping horses and mules, J.H. Houghton offered a stallion (Bourbon Belmont) for stud services, Gabe had a fine Jersy bull available for the same, and a fine breed of boars were available for purchase. Plus, Oliver Hollis, an African American Madisonian, had a restaurant in a portion of the building. No jokes about the source of the meat please. And, in case anyone was worried, Mr. Hollis assured everyone that, “He has a separate apartment where his white friends are served by polite waiters with all good things to eat.”

Bearden's Stable ad and 1901 Sanborn Fire Insurance mapThe High Shoals messenger. (High Shoals, Ga.), October 14, 1897/1901 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map

Building on his success, Bearden rented a second stable on the corner of Burnett and Hancock (no longer extant) in 1901 specializing the use of each. In his words, “Now I want to run livery business alone in the Newton stable, as the space is too small for transient, and kindly ask my customers who wish to hitch, feed, sell, buy, or swap to stop at the BIG STABLE.” In other words, if you wanted to hire out a buggy or carriage and/or horses, the Newton stable was your place, but if you were stabling for the day – kind of a horse & mule parking garage – or were looking to buy, sell, or swap you would head over to Hancock Street. Despite his apparent success, G.A. Bearden put the livery outfit – ten head horses with vehicles, harness, etc. to match – and business up for sale in August of 1902.

Brick livery stable building

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