Callahan-Penhallegon home nicknamed the ‘Steamboat House’

Published 8:17 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2014


The Callahan-Penhallegon home is one of the six homes on the 2014 Christmas Tour of Homes on Dec. 6.
John Wesley Callahan was born in Montgomery County, Georgia in November 1858. John was reared on a farm, completing school only through the eighth grade.
When he was 19-years-old he worked as a clerk in a mercantile store for seven years.
He then opened his own store, which he operated for three more years, and sold it for money to enable him to go into the naval stores business. At one time he was the largest individual producer of naval stores in the world!
John lost his first wife in death. He then married Hattie E. Johnson. John and Hattie eventually settled in Bainbridge. He went on to serve several terms as mayor of Bainbridge and in Atlanta as a state legislator and senator.
Among other businesses, he became owner and operator of a line of paddlewheel steamboats known as the “Callahan line.” He was truly an Empire Builder and ventured into railroads, insurance and commissary goods.
The steamboats traveled on the tri-rivers of the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola, as well as the smaller Chipola River. Sometimes the boats were used as excursion boats,but mostly they carried cargo needed by the many plantations up and down the rivers.
The Callahan’s erected a large house, which some say resembles the front end of a steam boat, on the corner of Broad and Evans Streets in 1907, and now is called “The Steamboat House”.
Whether that folklore is true or not, the mural of his first steamboat and the Flint River in the living room certainly support the name. The house is registered on the National Trust of Historic Places in the United States.
The house is constructed of long-leaf pine that was air-dried for a year before construction. All wood floors are long-leaf pine boards. The wrought iron fence and exterior of the house are original. Note the leaded bevel glass around the front doors on both floors. There are ten fireplaces, originally designed to burn coal. Of these, only two are alike.
Just inside the front door are photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Callahan. Most of the furniture in the hallway is original.
The velvet portieres hanging to the right and left were specially woven for the house. The shadowbox contains Mr. Callahan’s watch with 23 diamonds forming the letter “C.”
Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased from the Samaritan Counseling Center.

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