First ranch house in Georgia to be individually listed in the National Register

league-house_001Press release from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division:

Joseph and Mary Jane League House Listed in National Register
First ranch house in Georgia to be individually listed in the National

ATLANTA (February 25, 2009) -The Joseph and Mary Jane League House,
located in Macon, Bibb County, was listed in the National Register on
January 9, 2009. The League House is the first ranch house in Georgia
to be individually listed in the National Register. The National
Register nomination was prepared by a consultant as part of the Historic
Preservation Division’s women’s history project for its association with
two important women architects. The precedent-setting design of the
house was identified through the Division’s ongoing study of
mid-20th-century houses in the state. The nomination is
enthusiastically supported by the property owners, who are the original
owners of the house.

The Joseph and Mary Jane League House is significant in architecture as
an early and exceptional example of a Contemporary-style ranch house in
Georgia. Its low form, H-shaped footprint, zoned interior plan, natural
building materials, and integration of indoor spaces with outdoor
landscaping all reflect up-to-date ranch-house design nationally and,
along with a small group of similar houses in Atlanta, set precedents
for mid-20th-century ranch-house design in Georgia. Ranch houses first
appeared in Georgia right after World War II, but Contemporary-style
ranch houses did not appear until the early 1950s. This house, built in
1950, was seen as setting a precedent in Macon and Georgia at the time
and was featured in several national architectural publications in the
early 1950s.

The house is also significant in architecture and women’s history as
an important work of Jean League Newton. Newton was among the earliest
professionally trained women architects in Georgia, representing the
second-generation of female designers in the state. Her mother, Ellamae
Ellis League, was a pioneering woman architect in Georgia who had her
office in Macon. Jean League Newton received her architectural
education at Harvard University in the mid-1940s, studying under Walter
Gropius and other Modernists, and then returned to work in her
mother’s firm. She was largely responsible for expanding the
corporate portfolio to include Modern architecture in the late 1940s,
including the firm’s 1948 International-style office building. In
1950 she designed this Contemporary-style ranch house for her brother
and his wife who wanted a practical, economical, unpretentious, but
up-to-date home for their family. In 1962 and 1974 she designed the
additions and alterations to the house, and in 1960 she drew the
landscape plan for the yard.

The house is located in the Shirley Hills neighborhood north of
downtown Macon. The front section of the house contains the main
entry, living room, integral carport, and a narrow, partial-width,
recessed front porch. Windows on the front façade are in a high, narrow
band across the living room. Four bedrooms are located in the rear
section of the house. The connector between the front and back sections
of the house contains the dining area, kitchen, bathroom, and utility
room. On the interior, the living room, dining area, and foyer are
interconnected open spaces; the bedrooms are enclosed. The living room,
foyer, and bedrooms feature vaulted ceilings. A large brick fireplace
forms one end of the living room. The living room and dining area have
floor-to-ceiling window walls opening onto a courtyard. The exterior is
sheathed in redwood weatherboards. Landscaping is based on a 1960
landscape plan: the front yard is an open, grassed space with several
large trees; the side and rear yards are informally landscaped and
incorporate patios, planting beds, and paths along with two small
utility sheds. The house is largely unchanged since its construction
with the exception of a bedroom added in 1962 and kitchen remodeling in
1974, which were both designed by the original architect.

The National Register is the federal government’s official list of
historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts worthy of
preservation. According to Richard Cloues, deputy state historic
preservation officer, listing in the National Register recognizes a
property’s significance and ensures that the property will be taken into
account in the planning of federally funded or licensed projects. In
addition, owners of National Register properties may be eligible for
rehabilitation tax incentives.

The Historic Preservation Division (HPD) of the Georgia Department of
Natural Resources serves as Georgia’s state historic preservation
office. Their mission is to promote the preservation and use of historic
places for a better Georgia. HPD’s programs include archaeology
protection and education, environmental review, grants, historic
resource surveys, tax incentives, the National Register of Historic
Places, community planning and technical assistance. For more
information, call 404-656-2840 or visit their Web site at

Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Noel Holcomb, Commissioner
Historic Preservation Division
W. Ray Luce, Division Director and Deputy State Historic Preservation
34 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 1600, Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Telephone (404) 656-2840 Fax (404) 651-8739

Helen Talley-McRae, 404-651-5268