The Holliday-Dorsey-Fife Museum at 140 West Lanier in Fayetteville, Georgia MATTERS.
This beautiful structure is a wonderful component of the cities-built environment. The antebellum architecture makes everyone stop and stare. Yet I feel its context makes it even more stunning.
Locally, the Fife family owned the home from 1901 to 1968. Robert E. Lee Fife was a local businessman greatly admired in the community. He owned three different large mercantile stores. His relatives are regular visitors to the museum and have donated several lovely artifacts as well as information about the family.
Statewide, the Dorsey family make the home special because the grandson, who played in the home and even wrote about his fun-filled days there, and who went on to become the only Fayetteville citizen to be elected governor of the state of Georgia. Hugh Dorsey served from 1917 to 1921.
Nationally, Dr. John S. Holliday had the home built in 1855. As a medical doctor in the community, he delivered his nephew in nearby Griffin. That nephew admired him, and later went on to become a dentist. That young man was John Henry “Doc” Holliday of Wild West fame.
Yet as a youngster he spent many a happy day visiting his favorite uncle in the large antebellum home. Some feel his spirit still returns.
Worldwide, there was a young woman who came to Fayetteville to tend to her family plot in the local historic cemetery. During her stay, she met a group of ladies who were trying to establish a permanent library in the town. She was a journalist and felt she wanted to help. So she met with the ladies in the home several times. She also made sure the library was built and stocked with books. Many were gifts from her friends.
So, as the Margaret Mitchell Library was opened, she was so proud that she donated two autographed first editions of her own little novel, “Gone With The Wind.”
The museum has rooms that enlighten locals and visitors alike to the roots of the home. The four lower rooms are dedicated to: 1) The three families, 2) The War Between the States, and local connections, 3) The city and county, 4) Margaret Mitchell, the book and movie.
Also upstairs are a period bedroom, a Veterans Room (showing local ties to WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Revolutionary soldiers that reside in the historic cemetery), a room for rotating topical exhibits and a wonderful standing arrowhead collection exhibit. Soon, a room dedicated to three native Fayette writers will occupy the last room.
This place matters because it is a learning experience that all ages can enjoy. It traces a community’s economic and cultural growth through the lives of the home’s different owners. I am honored to volunteer as a docent in this magnificent home.