The Ansley family and community officials gathered for a ceremony Sunday afternoon at The Rock House in which Mayor Bob Knox proclaimed the house as the official 2005 Easter Seals Ornament of Hope.
"I'm sure when Thomas Ansley was hauling rocks to this site 200 years ago, he would never have believed that his house would be honored in the year 2005," said Judy Candler, the chairman of the Ansley Family Association.
Thomson Mayor Bob Knox holds up a boxed ornament as Karen Sturgill, the events coordinator for Easter Seals East Georgia, looks on during Sunday's ceremony.
Other members of the Ansley family in attendance included Roger and Marcia Spafford, who drove from Lilburn, Ga. The crowd of approximately 30 included McDuffie dignitaries, board members of the Wrightsboro Foundation and officials from Easter Seals East Georgia.
"(It was) a terrific turnout, better than many we've had in Augusta, especially with the rainy weather today," said Karen Sturgill, the events coordinator for Easter Seals East Georgia.
After a welcome by Hazel Mobley, of the Wrightsboro Foundation, Dot Jones, the Foundation chairwoman, gave a history of The Rock House.
"It is a treasure for McDuffie County to have this house, it deserves recognition," Mrs. Jones said. "...It has survived storms, Indian raids, a fire, vagrants, and abuse, but it has remained strong."
The Rock House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the oldest stone dwelling in Georgia with its original architectural form intact. Thomas Ansley built the home in 1785. It was given to the Wrightsboro Foundation, Inc. in 1966, and was restored in 1981. The Foundation received a national award for its restoration work.
The limited edition ornaments cost $15. Sheila Thomas, CEO of Easter Seals East Georgia, presented ornament number one to Mrs. Jones for the Wrightsboro Foundation, and ornament number two to Mayor Knox for the City of Thomson.
"This is the 13th year the Thomson community has opened its arms to us. Thank you to all the merchants who carry it in their businesses. They do it even though there's nothing in it for them," Ms. Thomas said. "When you purchase this ornament, it means more than owning a beautiful ornament, it is helping the unfortunate."
Easter Seals offers job-placement services for the disabled in Thomson and 33 surrounding counties.
The 2005 ornaments are available through the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce, area banks, and the Frame Gallery. All 13 ornaments in the Thomson series are available through the Easter Seals by calling (706) 667-9695.
Guided tours of The Rock House can be arranged through the Thomson-McDuffie Tourism Board by calling the Chamber of Commerce at 597-1000.