Wick's Tavern

Early History:

As early as 1826, prospectors came to Hixtown to mine for gold. By 1832 there were some 300 miners in the area. 

John Butler Wick (1798-1866) came to Georgia from New York. In 1830, Wick brought the east half of land lot #158, 6th district in Hixtown, Carroll County, where he built the tavern and general store building; it became a stagecoach stop for travelers and hub for miners. 

Wick's Tavern was originally located directly along today's Highway 61, between the Villa Rica Library and Tanner Hospital on the headquarters site of Southeastrans Inc.

In 1824, Wick married Delia Johnson Tuttle in Somerset, New Jersey. John and Delia are listed on the 1850 Federal Census for Carroll County, Georgia Division 11. Wick's occupation was as an attorney at law. They had one daughter, Mary C., who was born in Georgia in 1839. Wick's mother, Hannah, lived with them; she was 84. 

Hilton H. Bryant, born in New Jersey in 1796, also lived in the household. Bryant may have been the original carpenter who built the tavern and was housed as a part of his payment.

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Wick's Tavern during an ice storm in 1920, before it was moved back from Highway 61. 
Photo Courtesy Stan Hardegree

Construction Style:

The tavern was framed in the traditional Dutch style and constructed chiefly of heart-pine wood. The sills are hand-hewn, meaning they were cut or shaped with an ax or chisel; the remainder of the lumber was sawn on a sash-type saw, most likely water-powered.  

A ladder was used to access the tavern's second floor, where travelers slept, separated by a partition. Women slept on one side, closest to the fireplace; men slept on the other. Today steps have replaced the ladder. 

Both Bryant, the carpenter, and Wick were of Dutch descent, which may explain the building style instead of English, the other prevalent construction style in the early 1800s.

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Transitions to Private Home

Wick's Tavern was a lively place during Villa Rica's frontier years. It was known as an excellent spot to have a good fight on the weekend. The tavern went out of business sometime after the Civil War, becoming a private home to various families. 

In 1882 the Georgia-Pacific Railroad came to town. Citizens moved much of the town's homes and businesses closer to the railroad in present-day Villa Rica. However, because of its size, the tavern was left behind.   

July 1999
Courtesy The Villa Rican

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In 1919, Dewren Chastain bought the property. He and his wife Frances moved into the home in 1932. Mrs. Chastain lived in the house until 1990. The home remained in the Chastain family for most of the century.

In 1998, Al and Jane Chastain donated the tavern to the Friends of Wick's Tavern, saving the historic building from demolition. Esteemed local resident Charlie Lott spearheaded the tavern's relocation to 212 West Wilson Street in Villa Rica. 

During the restoration process, Lott, and fellow members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) Forrest Escort Camp #1239, took great pains to save every bit of wood and stone from the structure. The initial floor had been replaced years before, but original boards - 1x12 inch pine planks - from the upstairs remained. Volunteers carefully pulled up the heart pine from the upstairs, sanding and varnishing the wood to a high finish.  The fireplaces were also carefully restored with rocks from the original property. Charlie Lott's son, Chuck Lott, and Roy Yearty Jr. rebuilt the fireplaces at the new location.

Wick's Tavern when it was a residential home
Photo Courtesy Chastain Family

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The Friends of Wick's Tavern built a 3,000 square-foot activity barn behind the tavern to provide modern restrooms. It includes a kitchen, offices, library, meeting space, and
storage facilities. 

In 2019, Villa Rica's Historic Preservation Commission designated Wick's Tavern as one of 10 significant structures in the city.

Today, Wick's Tavern stands as the oldest commercial structure in Carroll County. 

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Friends of Wick's Tavern:

December 1998, a flat-bed truck moves Wick's Tavern to its new home on West Wilson Street.
Courtesy The Villa Rican

New Home:

Future as a Community Resource:

The Villa Rica Area Historical Society took over stewardship of Wick's Tavern in May 2021. 

The tavern is a piece of Villa Rica's history, an asset that could never be replaced. To that end, our goal is to preserve the character and integrity of the Tavern.

Once the tavern is structurally sound, we plan to stage half of the downstairs interior as a tavern. The other half will serve as a museum, showcasing artifacts belonging to
the VRAHS and items on loan.

We anticipate the Wick's Tavern Museum becoming a fantastic destination for school tours, homeschoolers, and civic groups.

The Meeting Hall offers a unique complement to Wick's Tavern, possessing things the Tavern does not, such as bathrooms, a kitchen, audio-video presentation availability, and a large upstairs library and sitting area with a toilet and shower. These features will allow us to utilize the location to host weddings, reunions, and movie productions. 

Fred Daniell gifted us a beautiful replica of Wick's Tavern he made as a bluebird house. Mr. Daniell built the model with purchased items from E.T. Doyal & Sons and roof materials from Wick's Tavern. We will install the birdhouse atop a large stump in the yard.

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June 2021

March 2022