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Vanishing Towns of Rural Georgia
   written and photographed by Andy Kite


from Penfield . . .

Before moving to Macon as a result of the War Between the States, Mercer University's campus was located in Penfield.  Founded here as the Mercer Institute for Boys in 1833, the school gained university status in 1837.  That same year, the Village of Penfield was established and named for Josiah Penfield, a jeweler from Savannah and benefactor of the school.  Mercer was the only college in the state to remain open during the Civil War, but it soon came under pressure to relocate to a more urban area.  The school was moved from Penfield to Macon.  The Penfield campus gradually declined as most buildings were simply left to rot.  The Village of Penfield, however, survived off cotton farming well into the twentieth century before slowly fading away.

Penfield Chapel
from Boneville  . . .

Constructed next to the mill site, the mill owner's residence was later turned into a hotel called the Dixie Inn. Before the mill closed in the thirties, Boneville was a popular resort for the people of Augusta. Families came to swim in the millpond and have a respite from the humdrum of city life. After the mill closed, however, the resort faded away. The once-stately structure sits across from the millpond in a lot choked by kudzu and other vines. The interior lies empty, although upon looking through the open door one may imagine the scene during the mill days of men discussing business in the main corridor or children admiring paintings on the now graffiti-laced wall. Local rumor has it that the Dixie Inn is still not completely vacant, but inhabited by the spirit of one of these guests who hanged himself inside the hotel. This legend is just that- legend, as there is no newspaper evidence contemporary to that time to prove this occurrence.
Dixie Inn
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