Historic Civil War hospital to be destroyed

Former Hightower House resident will start fire

STOCKBRIDGE — An historic home is scheduled to go up in flames today.

The controlled burn of the Hightower House, named for its owner, Dr. Richard Hightower, is part of a ceremony hosted by the City of Stockbridge.

The burning, which also serves as training for county firefighters, will be Thursday, at 7:30 p.m., at 117 East Atlanta Road, in Stockbridge.

“The control training burn will be directed by the Henry County Fire Department,” said Henry Fire Capt. Sabrina Puckett.

The Hightower House was built in the 1800s, prior to the Civil War, according to officials. Its original purpose was to be the only medical facility in the area, having a doctor’s office, drugstore and small hospital. The Hightower House has been used in several capacities over the years, including a private home, a business, and recently to train Henry County firefighters.

City officials said they are burning down the historic house in order to make room for city improvements.

“It is only fitting that we stop to remember the historical significance this house has played in the development of Stockbridge, and Henry County,” said Stockbridge Mayor Lee Stuart. “The Hightower family history shows that [family members] have always been committed to community, serving [in various capacities] as sheriff, medical doctor, firefighter and emergency medical technician... We look forward to having the citizens of Stockbridge participate in the final chapter of this grand old house.”

The house will be lit by Davina Studley, an experienced North Carolina firefighter who once lived in the home.

Studley, 41, is a certified firefighter and emergency medical technician. She works at the Wilson’s Mills Volunteer Fire Department in North Carolina. She graduated in May from Western Carolina University, in Cullowhee, N.C., with a bachelor’s degree in emergency and disaster management.

The Hightower House has been used to train Henry County firefighters and EMTs. Studley said she was pleased that her family allowed the house to be used for fire training.

“That is how I trained as a firefighter. Someone donated their old home to the fire school I attended, Johnson Community College, for the Fire Service Program,” she continued.

Relatives would often share the family’s rich heritage with Studley, she said.

“My great-great-great-grandfather, Dr. Richard Hightower, was a medical doctor,” explained Studley. “He would use a horse and buggy to visit his patients. The house was a Civil War hospital, and his patients would pay for his services with chickens, vegetables, and other various goods and services.”

Studley said she lived in the Hightower House from 1980 until 1981.

“I lived there with grandmother, Elizabeth Tucker Hightower, and my mother, Elissa Hightower Johnson, and my two sisters, Ann McGahey and Chasa Roydes,” she explained. “My grandmother would take care of me while my mother was working.”

Studley acknowledged she spent most of her primary years at the home, while attending “Ms. Grant’s Kindergarten Class.”

“Growing up, I was in the house quite often, my kindergarten class was two house up from my grandmother’s home,” said Studley. “After kindergarten I attended Stockbridge Elementary school, which was only a couple of blocks from my grandmother’s house.”

She said her grandmother would allow the Stockbridge Fire Department to use another house on her land as a haunted house and they would create a haunted trail behind the home.

The public should prepare for any traffic issues, detours, etc. that may occur from Thursday evening until Friday morning.