The Georgia Trust

OLDEST HOME IN SPARTA IS RETURNED TO ORIGINAL STATE

The Rossiter-Little House,
front exterior (above) and right side (below).

On January 27, 2006, Greg Jarrell and Dale Couch purchased the Rossiter-Little House from the Revolving Fund. The late 18th-century home is located in Sparta, the county seat of Hancock County and one of Georgia’s best cities to find historical architecture.

Documented by the Historic American Building Survey in the 1930s, the Rossiter-Little House is considered the oldest house in Sparta. Dr. Timothy Rossiter constructed the home c. 1797 on the town’s highest spot.

The two-story four-bedroom home is approximately 3,000 square feet and sits on more than an acre of land. Original materials include fireplace mantels, heart pine floors and interior walls with hand-cut boards.

The main part of the home is built in a classic New England saltbox design. Although the architectural style was unpopular for the time it was built, it was familiar to Rossiter, who moved from Connecticut to Georgia. The Rossiter-Little House is modified from the basic New England form with two projecting front wings on either side of the home. The wings, or ells, are connected by an inset front porch.

The unique house design creates maximum ventilation, while also directing breezes into the home. Another distinguishing feature of the Rossiter-Little House is the “sheaf of wheat” treillage, the delicate yet sturdy latticework found on the front porch.

Jarrell and Couch plan to “keep the house as pure as possible” and are currently in the process of restoring the home to its original state. Preferring to use 19th century methods of interior heating and cooling, they do not plan to install central heat or air conditioning in the home.

Contractors have built a new roof, gutted the bathroom, laundry room and kitchen, and removed drywall in the front room. Jarrell said that he has “made some wonderful discoveries” during the restoration process, including finding an enclosed porch which had been previously hidden by a remodeled bathroom.

"I hope to make this property a model of preservation [and] I am keeping a detailed journal of the work," Jarrell says.

“We are pleased with Mr. Jarrell’s commitment to historic preservation,” says Frank White, former Revolving Fund director. “We know that the Revolving Fund is a success when we help such enthusiastic individuals purchase homes in need of restoration.”

The Georgia Trust established the Revolving Fund in 1990 to provide successful alternatives to demolition or neglect by promoting the rehabilitation and preservation of architecturally and historically significant properties.

Do you know of an endangered historic property in your town? The Georgia Trust may be able to help. Contact Kate Ryan at 404-885-7817.

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