Ralph Morgan grew up visiting the Mitchell Varnell House “in its original form,” but it makes him “nearly want to cry” to see it now.

The home, on Highway 201 just north of Ga. Highway 2 in Varnell, was used as a rental home for several years. In that time the floor began to weaken, the walls began to bow and the entire house started to deteriorate.

“It needs serious work done,” Morgan said.

The city purchased the house and three acres for $70,000. Officials plan to renovate it for use as a city museum, said Morgan, who retired as city manager last month but is still active in historical preservation projects.

Morgan spoke to members of the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society on Sunday about Varnell’s history and city officials’ plans to preserve historical sites including the Varnell House.

Mitchell Varnell, for whom the city is named, had his home built in 1847 by Dry Dan Dold. The house survived the Civil War after being used by both the Confederate and Union armies as a hospital, Morgan said.

“It was an important place for both sides in the Civil War,” he said. “It’s amazing that it wasn’t burned” by the Union soldiers.

The historic marker outside the home states that on May 12, 1864, Gen. Joe Wheeler led Confederate soldiers in an attack to drive Union soldiers out of Varnell.

“I would be thrilled to death if we can get an effort going to restore the Varnell House,” Morgan said. “It makes me nearly want to cry to think what’s been done to Mr. Varnell’s home. I went in it as a child many times and saw it in its original form.”

Historical society members said they were glad to see the effort of Varnell officials to save the city’s history.

Several members have wanted to see the Varnell House and the spring across Highway 201 from the house for a long time, historical society president Carolyn Luffman said.

Historical society members also wanted to see the “blue hole,” but since it’s deer hunting season and the hole is about half a mile into the woods, Morgan said members should wait and see it later.

The blue hole is along the old stagecoach route along the Old Federal Road from Varnell to Ringgold. As the legend goes, a stagecoach left Varnell for Ringgold, but never arrived, Morgan said.

The next day people began looking for the missing stagecoach, but never found it. What they found instead was a large hole in the road filled with water, Morgan said.

“All was lost, the passengers, horses and the stagecoach. Everything was gone,” he said. Stagecoach tracks lead to the hole, but not away from it on the other side, he said.

Some say a bonnet and a bloody whip were found near the hole, Morgan said.

There are several springs throughout Varnell that are thought to be connected to each other and the hole. “Old timers” said the springs were “so muddy” the night the stagecoach disappeared they couldn’t drink from them, Morgan said.

Varnell officials hope to obtain the hole and 50 acres surrounding it to turn into a park, he said. Historical society members hope to visit the blue hole in the spring.

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