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Spencer House

Please enjoy from the street, do not enter the property

  The Spencer House, as pictured today.
Source: Great Houses of Brunswick by Suzanne Hurley | Photographer: Harlen Hambright | Made available courtesy of Historic Brunswick Foundation

Built in 1898, The Spencer House was one of six speculative or ‘spec’ houses at the corner of Union Street and Dartmouth Street. Spec houses had architectural plans from books with various options. To give the houses a different look, the builder varied the bay windows, second floor windows, and reversed the floor plan. Most of these homes received early additions, such as wrap-around front porches and kitchen wings on the back. The home is a simple Folk Victorian with Queen Anne elements and side-gabled roofs. This home has a generous yard because Dartmouth Street was originally laid out to have a divided median. Later, when the street was paved, the house gained a larger front yard. In the backyard, a small cottage facing Ellis Street is original.

Haynes and Mary Thomas from Virginia owned the house from 1912 through 1930, living there with their daughter and granddaughter. He was a saw filer, responsible for sharpening saws at Cypress Mills. Clyde and Grace Pitts, who came from Tennessee in 1931, were also long-term residents. The house was 33 years old when the Pitts bought it in 1931, and was unwired, but Mr. Pitts was able to wire it himself because he was an electrician. He also had a radio repair shop in the back cottage. After Mr. Pitts died, Mrs. Pitts lived in the house until 1974. 

  •  The Spencer House and its abundant gardens are unique in the Old Town Historic District.
  • The owners have selected plants popular with Victorians in the coastal south: camellias, crepe myrtles, citrus trees, heirloom roses, agapanthus, daffodils, gloriosa, and spider lilies.

Home renovators sometimes make interesting discoveries that may be great, small, or entertaining. In this case, a later homeowner found a Liberty Ship check stub in a wall inside the nest of a resourceful rat. Mr. Pitts had helped build the Liberty Ships that were produced in Brunswick during World War II. The current owners are the Spencers, who have owned the house for 33 years and made it the treasure it is today. Jerry Spencer was a landscape architect for the Sea Island Company; he developed gardens of high-end coastal homes. Upon retirement, he became a founding member of Signature Squares, formed to raise funds to improve Brunswick’s 14 historic squares. The Spencers have lived there since the late 1980s, and have extensively renovated the house. “We have become old and the house has become new,” Jerry mused, a sentiment of many committed home renovators.

Information from the book Great Houses of Brunswick by Suzanne Hurley

Photography by Harlen Hambright

Made available courtesy of Historic Brunswick Foundation

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