House has withstood war, weather, time

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Reverend Pitt Sanders Milner came to the southern part of Butler County with other farmers from Georgia exactly a century and a half ago.

In 1855, the Baptist preacher and builder bought and homesteaded land and founded a new community, Georgiana. The city was said to be named after Milner’s native state and his daughter, Anna.

Jack-of-all-trades Milner, who was the first postmaster, first railroad agent and the first lawyer in the area, also went on to set up his own lumber mill.

&uot;From what I understand, Milner probably planed a lot of the timber for the house he built,&uot; says Bill Mayo of Pensacola, one of the current owners of the very house Rev. Milner built.

Now known as the Milner-Vinson-Boone House, the two-story structure has withstood war, weather and the ravages of time.

The Vinsons, local dairy farmers, lived in the home from 1878 to 1906. It has been in the Boone family for just under a century, says Mayo, whose wife, Diana, grew up in the old house and inherited it from her mother.

According to Mayo, the house, which sits on a two-acre lot on a hill, has 4400 square feet of living space with 11-foot ceilings and a 16-foot hallway both upstairs and down.

Studs are &uot;morticed&uot; into the sills, fastened by the builder into grooves cut into the sills. Its tall front columns are original to the house, which has siding of solid cedar – something discovered by Mayo after scraping off layers of paint.

While the couple lives out of state, Mayo says they love returning to the area and are determined to preserve the historic house that has been in Diana Mayo’s family for so long.

&uot;We are fortunate to have friends living in Orlando who are originally from here. With their help we’ve been able to keep the house and to work on renovating it,&uot; explains Mayo.

&uot;It’s a really solidly built house. Most of the heavy work is done. We’ve repainted it inside and out and it looks beautiful,&uot; a proud Mayo says.

Much of the home’s original antique furnishings were stolen by thieves who broke into the house, so the owners are still working on building a collection of period pieces to furnish it.

&uot;We don’t have it furnished as nicely as we would like to, but we are adding period furniture as we go along – I think it gives it more aesthetic appeal,&uot; Mayo says.

One room in the historic old house has been untouched since the house was built.

&uot;That’s where the ghost lives,&uot; Mayo says with a laugh.

A possible haunting has not deterred the Floridians from enjoying the place. They frequently travel to Butler County to do more work on the property and to attend reunions and events like the Hank Williams Festival.

&uot;We love it up there. It’s a wonderful county, we have a great old house – it’s home for us,&uot; says Mayo.