Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Historic Green Manor in Union City-Does the Ghost of Florence Westbrook Still Walk the Grounds of the Mansion?

My post-Civil War American History class has been studying the turn of the century in America. I have been talking with them about the industrialization of the nation, the plight of farmers in the South, and the differences in lifestyles of the rich, poor, and middle class. As part of that discussion, I took my class to the Green Manor, which is now a restaurant located in Union City. The Green Manor was once a fruitful post Civil War cotton farm and the families who lived there were wealthy. I wanted them to see how these people lived and to give them a first hand look at some neat local history. What I did not expect was that the Green Manor has a haunted past.

The Green Manor was the property of the Westbrook family. In fact, W.R. Westbrook and his wife, Elizabeth, gave the home and thirty acres to Cora Westbrook, the tenth of their eleven children, and her husband, Drewry Carmichael as a wedding gift in 1889. The Carmichaels were productive, as Drewry and his brother built a factory for farm equipment in nearby Fairburn, and even helped secure the area as the Georgia headquarters of the Farmers Union. The city of Union City was founded as a result of this in 1908.

After telling my class about the history of the home and the area, as well as how the turn of the century looked in what is now Fulton County, the manager began to talk about some of the popular legends about Green Manor. I can tell you, they are very interesting.

As it goes, Mrs. Westbrook (Cora) had an unwed sister, which back in the day were called either old maids or spinsters. Her name was Florence Westbrook. She moved in with the Carmichaels and lived on the second floor of the mansion. At that time, which was before the first world war, the place was a working cotton plantation. One day as the Carmichael's had their laborers burning the cotton fields and plowing it under to help make pot ash, Florence decided to take buckets of water out to the field hands, as she noticed that they were working pretty hard and were more than likely very thirsty. As she walked near the fields, her long dress caught fire and she burned to death in front of the house on what is now Westbrook Street. She was buried in a grave in the Shadnor Baptist Church Cemetery, which is right down the street from the Green Manor.

According to the manager of the Green Manor, Florence Westbrook might not have wanted to leave her sister and their mansion so soon. In 1996, the burglar alarm went off in the middle of the night at the Green Manor, which by that time had been a restaurant for almost six years. A local police officer answered the call. When he arrived, he walked all the way around the mansion and saw nothing. Having this feeling of urgency to look up, he did and saw the figure of a woman standing on the second floor of the house. He tried to call for back up thinking that someone was inside burglarizing the facility. However, his radio would not work, and all that the dispatcher could hear when he tried to call in was static. However, the dispatcher knew that the officer had gone to the Green Manor to check things out. Feeling uneasy, she (dispatcher) decided to send an officer to see what was going on. When the second officer arrived, he saw the image of the woman too, but like his fellow officer, his radio would not work when he tried to call in the report. Yet a third officer was sent to the location, this time an off-duty one who just happened to be in the area. He was also carrying his radio, but found that it would not work either. The manager also mentioned the name of the officer, but I will not give it here since I do not have permission. She went on to say that any time someone mentions the Green Manor to him, he turns white like a ghost.

Other stories about Florence abound at the Green Manor. A local journalist in Fulton County, and I will not mention his name either because I have not sought permission, has a fondness for the Green Manor and writes about it a great deal in the local paper. One night, he had been down in Palmetto covering a very controversial city council meeting. The meeting ended late, and when he drove back in to town, he passed the Green Manor. The next day, he called the manager and asked her what they had done to upset Ms. Florence, for when he passed by he saw her furiously pacing the front porch. The manager commented that the only thing she could think of was that they had put up new drapes in the room that was once the bedroom of Florence Westbrook. On another occasion, the sister-in-law of Dr. Green, the man for whom the mansion is now named and who purchased it in 1917, came to the restaurant, and upon entering the front door, she saw the figure of a woman coming down the stairs and immediately exclaimed, "My God, that is Florence Westbrook."

The manager and staff of the restaurant say that things are always moved and noone can account for how and when they were moved. The staff reports hearing water faucets come on in the basement a lot, but upon investigation, no water is running. One night, the manager herself was called to the scene due to the burglar alarm going off, and upon entering, the first thing she saw was a hat from the hat room (the name of one of the dining rooms in the restaurant) at the bottom of the stairs. Such a thing would have been noticed and immediately corrected by the staff at closing. It was not there when the restaurant closed. The police officer who came with her was quite disturbed to see this.

My students were amazed by the Green Manor. They enjoyed the tour and the ghost stories. The food there is absolutely amazing. The wait staff is great! But are there ghosts in the Green Manor? Who knows? Perhaps Ms. Florence Westbrook might stop by your table and say hello. Check out their website at www.greenmanor.biz and take a look at the pictures of the place. It is beautiful.

17 comments:

annette8297 said...

Prof, I found this and thought you would like it about the Green Manor of Union City GA, Annette

Drewry A. Carmichael came to Old Campbell County in 1889 to seek his fortune. He soon met Miss Cora Westbrook, the tenth of eleven children of W.R. and Elizabeth Westbrook, and won her heart. As a wedding gift, the Westbrook's gave the young couple a plantation consisting of thirty acres of land and a house built in the early 1800's.

The years were good to the Carmichaels, and Drewry became very successful. Drewry and his brother designed and patented farm equipment and founded a factory in Fairburn to build equipment. He was instrumental in the Farmers Union selecting Old Campbell as its Georgia National Headquarters, and this contributed greatly to the area's economy. On August 7, 1908, a new town was chartered where the National Union Headquarters was located and was named Union City. Drewery A. Carmichael was elected as Union City's first mayor.

In 1910 he started construction on a new home for his wife and four children. He decided to build the new home over the foundation of the old home. He incorporated many special features into his family's new home. He purchased a brick factory to supply the unusual colored bricks for the home. All the supporting walls were also constructed of solid brick. Ten (10) fireplaces, sliding pocket doors, beveled stained glass-windows and doors; two (2) dual staircases, wide board white pine floors, and the solid granite wrap around porch with large columns are a few of the features which made the Carmichael's home unique to the area.

The large basement has now been converted into a Wine Cellar and lounge, popularly known as Tiny Cheers.

Mr. Carmichael's prosperity was to be short lived. In 1915 the Farmer's Union failed because of the devastation to farmers caused by the boll weevil. His farm equipment factory also began to fail. Mr. Carmichael had invested most of his money in the local bank in Union City and was chairman of the board of directors. One of the bank officials absconded with most of the bank's cash and Mr. Carmichael had to sell off much of his personal property to help repay the stockholders and patrons of the bank. In 1917 he sold his family's home to Dr. Albert J. Green for $8,000.00.

Dr. Green moved his lovely bride, Johnnie Hobgood, daughter of Dr. Lewis Martin and Lula Palmer Hobgood, a very prominent family from Fairburn, into their new home. He used the front room for his office and his patients waited on the front porch and sat in swings and rocking chairs. He continued his practice here until shortly before his death in 1947. Mrs. Green continued to live here until her death in February 1984, at the age of 89. Two of the Green's sons, George Hobgood and Ed Martin, are also deceased. The remaining son, Albert John, and his wife Barbara, are the present owners of the property. The house has been maintained exactly as it was originally built except that a kitchen has been added where the back porch stood. During the renovation of the house, the original fireplace, dating back to 1800, was found in the basement. Cannon balls from the Civil War have also been recovered on the property.

The Green Manor is in a Historical District and will be added to the State & National Historic Registers.

annette8297 said...

Prof,
I talked with the faimly of the owners of the Green Manor tonight and they will call around and get more information for you on the AKA "Ghost Haunts" sagas for you. I work with some of the family.
Annette

The Professor said...

Thanks for the additional information. That sounds as if it is from their brochure from the restaurant. The manager gave that to us on our visit. I didn't include it because I just wanted to focus primarily on the history up to the death of Florence Westbrook. The home has a very interesting history. I have eaten lunch there quite a bit and the old place has quite a bit of charm.

Caprice said...

Hi Prof,
Great post!
It's not so very common for a specter to be seen so often. This is very interesting.
Isn't odd that Florence burned to death while carrying buckets of water? Maybe she was coming back from delivering them, and she wasn't carrying water, but it doesn't read that way.

The Professor said...

I'm not so sure it is so odd. If her dress caught fire you have to account for panic, and that would have led to lots of movement and more than likely any water in the buckets would have spilled out, or most of it. I am sure she may have dropped them in her nervousness. However, it could have been on her way back with the buckets. I did not get specific because the manager did not get more specific than what I posted. She may not know herself. But her obituary from that time states she burned to death on the grounds while the farm was being burned off for potash. Like Annette said, she died a few days after. But the death was caused from severe burns.

Caprice said...

Hi Prof,
Yup, I always forget about that pesky thing known as panic.
That would be so awful to have buckets of water in your hand when you catch fire and still burn! You are right, though, people do panic and then all bets are off.
This was a very interesting ghost story.
Thanks for posting it.

scooter said...

Caprice you around? :)

did you go to the movie that was shown at the old school in McDonough this past Saturday night?

Inquiring minds want to know. :)

Caprice said...

Hey Scooter!!
Yes, I did attend that premiere.
I was very impressed by the acting!
I've spent a little time with James and I really think he did a GREAT job with those documentaries he did a year or so ago on the McDonough hauntings. The movie is kind of "a day (or couple of days) in the life of a ghost hunter". Inspired by the Atlanta Ghost Hunters - Andy with the Atlanta Ghost Hunters has a cameo. He did GREAT!!

scooter said...

hey Caprice....

we went too. I was trying to figure out if I met you....probably not. Did you go to the after movie gathering at PJ's?

I've actually done some shows (theater) with the lead actress in the movie and a couple others from it. Heck, I've been in shows with James and Jeff as well. :)

Caprice said...

SCOOTER!!
I CANNOT believe you did not let me know or let Jeff know so he could tell me!! I would have looked for you. I went to the before party at PJ's, not the after party.
How was the after party?
Did you enjoy the movie?
You've been in shows with Jeff? Do you mean our own Professor?

scooter said...

Hey Caprice!

I invited the Prof, but he was out-of-town and didn't get my invite in time. I even asked James if it was OK to bring the Prof and he said sure!

The Jeff I was referring to isn't the Prof, it's the producer of the movie, Jeff C. I've been in shows with him. Both he and James have actually directed shows I was in. :) Too bad I missed you at the movie! I'll try to catch up to you at the next one!

See ya!
Scooter

Caprice said...

Hey Scooter!
So.. you are an actor?
OOOh! I am too! I was in one of James' documentaries!!
... or does that count? :)

madge1967 said...

Caprice! Does this mean that I need to get your autogragh??? Do you do discounts?
Annette

Caprice said...

Hi Madge!
I always welcome my public!
... what's this about discounts?!
A TRUE star never charges for autographs!
... that'll be $5.00 (includes your discount) :)

scooter said...

LOL Caprice....


I'm just a wannabe! :) I've done a couple minor things on stage because I thought it would help me overcome being a little introverted. I'm not sure it helped but it was fun!

If you were in a documentary you are most certainly are an actor/actress! I'll have to get your autograph and Profs at the same time!

Man.....I'll be in the company of famous people!!! :)

Caprice said...

Hey Scooter,

You betcha! All kinds of famous people will be showing for this book signing! We will all try to treat you like an equal, though.

Did you enjoy the stage?

scooter said...

gosh Caprice :) *blush*

thanks for treating me like people too!

I do/did like 'the stage'

Strangely enough, the thing I like most about it is the sense of urgency live acting creates, there are no retakes, etc. and you must be on, or else!

maybe I'm just an adrenalin junkie?