After years of visiting the same spot in rural Georgia, a family builds a dream farm among the oaks
Otis Scarborough and his wife, Sandy, bought the little house as a weekend place for themselves and their two sons. “We put in the azaleas and roses, plus all sorts of flowering plants,” Scarborough says. “In the spring, we put in vegetables and eat them all summer. My wife’s and her brother’s art is here…” He pauses. “It’s like a little bit of every part of our life is in this house. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.”
Yet the house Scarborough is talking about—a functioning horse farm on a hundred acres about thirty miles outside Columbus, Georgia—didn’t start out the way it’s ended up. Purchased about fifteen years ago, it was a modular home on a gorgeous piece of land: pastures, woods, a lake, and towering old oaks. Every weekend, the Scarborough family would drive up from their home in Columbus and settle in.
Then, a few years ago, they decided to take a huge step. “One day, my wife and I thought: We love this place so much, why don’t we live here full-time?”
At first, Scarborough adds, he was nervous about it. Maybe as a daily diet they wouldn’t like the place as much. “But then I thought: I’m always happy here on weekends,” he says. “Why wouldn’t I be happy here full-time?”
Still, before they decided to commit, they began thinking about how to make the place even better. And the Scarboroughs (Otis is in real estate, Sandy is a photographer) knew exactly whom to call. On a different job, they’d worked with Jim Strickland, founder and senior partner at Historical Concepts in Peachtree City, Georgia.
A company as much about planning as architecture, Historical Concepts is a “place-making” enterprise that, among other residential projects, is behind the sport-centric communities Palmetto Bluff and Spring Island in South Carolina and Ford Plantation in Georgia, developments that pay tribute to the charming architecture and traditions of the past. “So the Scarboroughs asked me up to their lake house,” Strickland says, “and we began to talk about its possibilities.” Together the three—plus decorator Melanie Davis, landscape designer Bill Lincicome, and project manager Terry Pylant—began to put together an idea of what the house could become.