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The Peterson-Wilbanks House is an iconic part of Vidalia’s past. Now celebrating 100 years, it stands as a preserved reminder of this area’s early roots. T he passage of time is inevitable. Months turn to years, lives change and pass, opinions and ideas grow and are rescinded. Through all of this, the world around us appears to be constantly cycling through change like a butterfly that has morphed from one stage to the next. Occasionally, we come across some element of the past that appears to have been frozen in time. Unmarked by years of the change surrounding it, this object can represent the past so clearly, you can almost imagine what it was like to live in another century. When I found out that the Peterson-Wilbanks House on Jackson Street in Vidalia had a trunk room, I immediately fell in love with its essence of time. The idea that the original house had an entire room for storing those hefty pieces of luggage intrigued me. I imagined the clothing the lady of the house must have worn at the time and the necessity of having a traveling wardrobe large enough to change clothes many times a day in order to accommodate varying events like breakfast, tea, croquet and dinner. Out-of-town visitors to this house most likely came to stay for more than just a weekend. Arriving by train, their assortment of trunks, hat boxes and traveling gear would be unloaded at the depot dock downtown and brought to the house where they would be unpacked and stored for a time in the trunk room. As was common during the first part of the century, the arrival of visitors would be a chance for the hostess to organize a complete social calendar of events. Suits, dresses and jewelry from those trunks would come to life at dinner parties and gatherings. All the while, the house would breathe in life. Years of excitement, joy, sadness, laughter – all aspects of the human experience – were witnessed by this grand house. Deep within her heart pine walls, stands a living testament of time. This year the Peterson-Wilbanks House celebrates 100 years of life. The story of her creation actually began in 1890. A small farming community surrounded by long leaf pine, rivers, and fertile farmland was situated directly between Atlanta and Savannah, making it an ideal location for the railroad to pass through. The area was originally known as Jenkins Station after its railroad depot, which was named after local landowner Warren T. Jenkins. But the arrival of the Savannah, Americus and Montgomery Railroad brought the town a new name and a new legacy. The details of the Peterson- Wilbanks House have been kept intact and restored wherever possible. From tongue and groove wood ceilings to stair posts and door casings, evidence of workmanship from 100 years ago is still visible. Hometown Living At Its Best 89


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