U.S. Senator Thomas E. Watson's estate, Hickory Hill, is on Hickory Hill Drive in Thomson, Ga. His early home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. U.S. Senator Thomas E. Watson was a giant political leader of the late 19th century and the father of Rural Free Delivery, which set up rural mail service for the nation. Built around 1870 and is open daily to visitors. Group tours can be made by appointment. The senator was born in the cabin to the right of the house, which was built about 1820 by Watson's grandfather.
Hickory Hill, through careful restoration, accurate recreation, professional preservation, and thoughtful interpretation seeks to foster a fuller understanding of the life and times of Thomas E. Watson, and to inspire reflection on the Jeffersonian virtues of life in the rural South.
The Watson-Brown Foundation operates three house museums in Thomson: Hickory Hill, the Thomas E. Watson House and the Tom Watson Birthplace. The expansive wooded grounds, formal gardens and adjunct facilities are also used as an outdoor classroom for environmental education and other studies.
The more palatial Hickory Hill is surrounded by a variety of restored outbuilding that provides a historical glimpse into early 1900s living. Walking paths take visitors through a barn, past a pigeon cote, peacock run and a schoolhouse. To the west, Watson's life is remembered with a timeline of stepping stones. The grounds are accented with numerous quotations from Watson' literary and political work. The interior -- accurate to individual rooms -- is filled with Watson antiques, books and memorabilia.