Photo: Jessica Szilagyi/AllOnGeorgia

Tucked away off Highway 129 in Evans County is a new treasure soon to be shared by newlyweds, party guests, and corporate event attendees from near and far. It’s a venue much different than anything else in Evans County – or any of the other surrounding counties.

Travis Phillips, best known for ‘The Painted Chef’ catering, recently purchased the renowned, but lately dormant, Hames family house outside of Claxton. The white column structure built back in 1955 by Dr. Curtis Hames Sr is rich with history and momentos of the past, many of which were given to Phillips when he purchased the home. Dr. Curtis Hames Jr., the son of the original owner, offered original plans, paperwork, and even an original painting of his mother, Mrs. Betty Hames, on her wedding day to be displayed over the fireplace in what was formerly the parlor. Members of the Hames family still in Evans County, not far from the mega plantation-style home. With all the history deeply engrained in the property, Phillips said he felt inclined to retain the family name – thus naming the event facility ‘Hames Hall.’

Photo: Betty Hames portrait

The historic home is an identical replica of an antebellum home in Natchez, Mississippi, the Devereaux Sheilds House, that Hames traveled to view dozens of times during the course of the original construction.

Deeply entrenched in the catering business, Phillips was in the market for a venue, but was in no rush when he came across the Hames house. The home had been sold a few times over since Dr. Hames died in 2005 and was under the ownership of a homeless shelter in Savannah. Phillips made an offer back in February of 2017 and after some lengthy back and forth – and a little delay – an arrangement was agreed upon. Seemed simple enough, leaving many to wonder how the venue would change to be converted to a wedding venue.

When AllOnGeorgia visited Hames Hall at the end of September, the venue was already booked for Christmas parties. With roughly two months to complete renovations, Phillips had no idea how quickly people would seek to use the venue. Now, as the onset of the holiday season is essentially here, weekends, weekdays, and New Year’s Eve are all booked. Many of the weddings on the books are out-of-towners from people as far as New York and Pennsylvania.

Upon purchase, Phillips was pressed with the duty of some repairs, but much of the ornate detail was in excellent condition due to the solid structure of the home. Even left behind were original pieces of late 1800s-esque heavy furniture that now sit in corners and nooks around the home, only adding to the character of the entire dwelling – perfect for wedding photos. A few coats of fresh paint, some plumbing repairs, a pool cleaning, and a landscaping overhaul later- the home is pristine as ever.

The tree-lined double driveway surrounding a fountain is a subtle entry to the magnificent columned edifice that sits on 15 acres of land, none of which go unnoticed or unused. It leaves plenty of room for parking for wedding guests and room to grow. Phillips says down the road he would like to see tiny houses across the property for guests to stay overnight.

But already, the home is equipped with an upgraded kitchen, a stone patio, a stone veranda on the second floor, rich green lawns, a small library, a suite for brides for day-of preparation, a lounge for the groom and his groomsmen, a honeymoon suite, and so much more. There’s plenty of room for an on-site florist and all the other vendors needed on wedding day.

(Slideshow-Click photos to enlarge)

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It’s quite a sight.

And several movie scouts seem to think so, too. Phillips said he’s already been approached by the film industry about using the house for a set, something that would keep the venue occupied during the wedding season off-months. Phillips agreed and one is set to begin in January. Another local company is going to use the kitchen for a location of a filmed food segment.

It’s a true family business, perfect for South Georgia. Phillips’ daughter, Allison, will run the venue full-time as both the coordinator and the event planner, which will be a big help since he plans to continue with his thriving catering business.

Without a doubt, Hames Hall is a great addition to Evans County, sure to bring newcomers to town for all the right reasons.

Wedding Wire recently put together a 360 tour – available here.

Visit Hames Hall on Facebook, on the web, or in person at 13350 Highway 129 N in Claxton.


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Jessica Szilagyi is statewide contributor for All On Georgia and Market Manager for Southeast Georgia. Her main focus with All On Georgia is state and local politics as well as agriculture. She’s served as a policy analyst at the State Capitol and as a campaign manager in political races across the state.

She writes for and has two blogs of her own: ‘The Perspicacious Conservative’, a political blog, and ‘Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers’, a blog on moving from Atlanta to rural Georgia. Jessica is also a contributor for Fox5 Atlanta’s ‘Like it Or Not.’