This home belonging to Lori (Lorraine) Maassen was abandoned due to a series of unfortunate events.
The 5 bedroom home was originally part of the Thornhill Plantation and was Lori’s Great Grandparents working dairy farm. They also owned the Knights Pen House in downtown Brunswick and they sold produce on Norwich Street as well. The Knight’s 10-11 children they had eventually sold off parts of the land to different developers. Her Grandmother sold part of her land to Jim Meadows who built Thornhill Creek and Deerfield Station. The property on the other side of her home was owned by her Grandfather’s brother, Robert Knight who worked for Atlanta Gas. When his wife Margaret died, she left her land to her children and it’s possible that her grandson still lives there.
Her Mother, Linda Carol (Knight) Gilman had 4 children and became sole heir to what was left on Highway 17 including the home, a private swimming pool and small parcel of acreage that remained around the plantation home by purchasing the property from her two brother’s and sister, Judy Knight.
Her mother took care of the home and it’s antique interior until she became ill from a stroke and was staying with her son in Atlanta to recover. During her illness, a tree fell on the home causing a good bit of damage and her mother could not get the insurance company to pay to have it repaired which started the series of sad unfortunate events and the abandonment of Lori’s precious childhood home. Linda payed a local roofer to repair the damage but he took her money and never repaired the home.
Lori’s mother then died in January 2012 without leaving a will and her sister Judy Knight passed away 6 months later and the property became a legal custody battle. There was a good bit of Lori’s life savings that went into the legal fight for the deed claim to her families home and Lori said the county eventually gave up the argument and handed over the deed. During this time, Lori contracted an auto immune deficiency decease that attacked her neurological system and affected her mobility. She tried to maintain her home and reached out to the Historical Society and other agencies to get the home repaired and livable again for the heritage of the community, but they did not agree to accept the opportunity to preserve the home. Before Lori got sick, she started packing up precious memories of her siblings belongings and left them stored in the rooms of the home.
In the last 3 years, vagrants and thieves have pillaged the home and removed all the valuable antiques that Lori left behind. The siding was removed so that thieves could tear off pieces on aluminum that lay underneath and the wiring was stripped of it’s copper. The saddest part is that they removed all the original windows to get aluminum and have stolen the doors as well. A small fire occurred in an upstairs bedroom, causing more damage to the original structure. The cause of the fire was not known but the fire department miraculously saved the structure from complete destruction. They have also stolen the original sinks, hardware, appliances and anything they could get out the home without getting caught.
I have reached out to several local organizations to see if anything could be done to board up the home to keep it from further destruction. Lori does not have the resources to take care of the property since her baby brother died. “Old houses and old people have lots of stuff and the people who stole those things didn’t care”, she said in a phone interview. Lori also commented, “the house is near and dear to my heart- it’s a place where I grew up with my family. If I were in a position to take care of what is left, I would.”
This writer could not find any information regarding Thornhill Plantation as the other dairy farm in the area, Howfyl Plantation, is preserved and has claimed most of the historical society’s attention. Lori said that Howfyl Plantation does have an original bottle from the Dairy Farm as the only artifact from the Thornhill Plantation.
Leigh Anne Estrada
April 10, 2017