Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Oak Hill (Main Campus)

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Institution Name: Berry College
Original/Historic Place Name: Tom Berry's Place
Location on Campus: Main campus, in plot at NE corner of HWY 27 and North Rome Bypass
Date(s) of Construction:
ca. 1880renovations
1927renovations Coolidge & Carlson
n.d.original construction
Designer: Coolidge & Carlson (Boston)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Other (Glossary)
Significance: education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: brick
Walls: exterior: wood, interior: plaster
Roof: originally asbestos; currently shingles
ca. 1871private residence (of Martha Berry's family)
post- 1871other (social center for Berry Schools)
1972-present (2006)museum (House museum and part of Oak Hill & Martha Berry Museum)

Oak Hill was the childhood home of Martha McChesney Berry, founder of Berry College. Architecturally, it is a Colonial Revival home, purchased by the Berry Family in 1871. Research is inconclusive as to what the house actually looked like when the family moved into it. Family photograph albums portray a house of Victorian architecture until around the turn of the 20th century, when a similar variation of Oak Hill's present-day structure appears. The home partially burned from a fire in 1884, which may explain the discrepancies in appearance.

While the estate is where Martha Berry, her siblings, and three adopted cousins grew into adulthood, the home is best understood as one she transformed after gaining ownership of it in 1927. The present room arrangement and the installation of modern facilities were accomplished between 1928 and 1932, when the interior of the home was remodeled. The architects, Coolidge and Carlson, added five and ½ bathrooms to the home, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a pantry, and steam heat. The architects also renovated the back porch to resemble the front. At Miss Berry's death in 1942, Oak Hill became the property of the Berry Schools, and an endowment was provided by Miss Berry and other members of the Berry family. Oak Hill is well cared for and kept very much as it was when Miss Berry was alive.

Oak Hill reflects the character of Martha Berry and the schools she established, and is a lasting testimony to her educational and personal philosophies. In 1972, Oak Hill opened as a house museum, and a guided tour of the home is provided with admission to the Martha Berry Museum.


Asbury, Susan Rhea. "Oak Hill: A Historical Analysis." Typescript. Berry College, 1997.

Asbury, Susan Rhea. Far Up from the Hills: Rethinking Oak Hill, Martha Berry's Home. M. A. thesis, University of South Carolina, Columbia, 2000.

Berry Trails: An Historic and Contemporary Guide to Berry College. Third edition. Mt. Berry, GA: Berry College, 2001.

Dickey, Ouida, and Doyle Mathis, eds. Martha Berry: Sketches of Her Schools and College. Atlanta: Wing Publishers, 2001.

Martha Berry Papers. Berry College Archives, Mount Berry, GA.

Thomas, Kenneth H., Jr. The Berry Schools [Berry College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1978.


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Last update: November 2006