Tucked away on the outskirts of Athens, Georgia lies The Hill, an orphanage for antebellum and early twentieth century homes. A private residence owned by Lee Epting of Epting Events, the property’s historical charm and natural scenery make it one of the area’s most captivating event locations.
One of Athens’ most interesting pieces of land, The Hill is like a character from a story. Its rich and oftentimes winding history make it a perfect venue or rental location for people who want to soak up and celebrate Southern heritage. Stepping into the houses on The Hill, in particular the Armstrong-Dobbs House, the Donald-Epting House, the Quinn House, and the Rock House, is like stepping into the past as these houses were artfully preserved and are decorated to match the time period in which they were originally constructed. All four of these properties are available to rent for events, weekends or extended stays.
One of the oldest homes in Athens, the Armstrong-Dobbs house is believed to have been constructed sometime in the late eighteenth century, as it is referenced by Joshua Meigs, the University of Georgia’s first president, in 1801 and again in an early history of Athens that was written in 1820. In 2001, as the house lay in disrepair at its original location on Oconee Street near downtown Athens, the Epting’s took on the monumental task of moving the house to The Hill and restoring it to its original splendor.
The cornerstone of The Hill is Lee Epting’s personal home, the Donald-Epting house, which was built in 1790 in Abbyville County, South Carolina. The Epting family acquired the house in 1979 and had it moved, brick by brick, from Donalds, South Carolina to Athens. At the same time, the 1840 Finley Street house was moved from downtown Athens in order to add a library, master bedroom and kitchen to the Epting family home. In doing so, the house is now somewhat “original” to Athens. Lee Epting’s passion for historic preservation is evident in the way that the he and his crew painstakingly took apart the house, writing detailed descriptions of where each brick and piece of wood belonged. The building materials were then transported over miles of highway and reconstructed at The Hill with great attention to detail. From front door to back door, visitors can walk through more than 200 years of history as they explore the interior. It can be awe-inspiring to sit in the dining room, touch the walls, and think about the generations who have sat and dined in this communal space. In addition to hosting several weddings and parties a year, the Donald-Epting House was also the primary shooting location for the film Not Since You.
Enhancing the property are two houses that are original to the land and were built in 1920 and 1930. One of these homes, the Rock House, is a quaint two story stone house that was built by the grandson of a former slave who was deeded the property after the end of the Civil War. Interesting fact – the stones were all locally harvested!
More interesting facts about The Hill:
- The historic homes on The Hill are all numbered by their address according to the year they were built.
- The brick columns in the back yard of the Donald-Epting House were salvaged from UGA’s Phi Delta Theta House on Lumpkin Street in the 1970’s.
- The boxwoods planted in front of the Donald-Epting House are from seedlings from colonial Williamsburg.
- Lee’s backyard contains a rare three-seated “luxury” out house that was used by Sherman at a stop on his march to the sea during the Civil War.