The Cohen-Tarbutton House was designed by architect Norman Askins in 1904 for H. Edward Cohen, son of Louis Cohen who was the founder and first president of the Sandersville Railroad. The home is a blend of the Neoclassical Revival and Eclectic Victorian styles. Its two-story exterior has a grand full-width front porch with columns and a balustrade at the second floor level. Proportionately, the house is raised high above the ground with brick sculpting in the foundation and the chimneys. The clapboard siding is cypress, and the roof is slate and copper. The double front doors feature etched glass bearing the letter C for Cohen.
Edward Cohen and his wife Davie lived in this beautiful home for only a few years after its completion before moving to Atlanta. The property was then sold to John Gibson, Superintendent of Sandersville Schools. He married a woman affectionately known as “Miss Susannah” from Mississippi. After a few years, Mr. Gibson resigned from the school system and moved with his wife to Mississippi to try his hand at farming.
The home was then purchased by politician Thomas William Hardwick. Hardwick served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1903-1914, the U.S. Senate from 1914-1919, and as Georgia Governor from 1921-1923.
Hardwick sold the property to Charles D. Thigpen of Sunhill. He was married to Leila Clark Thigpen and succeeded Major Mark Newman as County Ordinary. Judge Thigpen purchased the house because it was convenient to his office. The Thigpen family changed the detached kitchen, closing in the connecting porch and adding a sleeping porch above. After his death in 1924, His wife sold the home to Benjamin James Tarbutton. Moving into the home with Mr. Tarbutton was his sister, Sadie.
Benjamin James Tarbutton, Sr. was mayor of Sandersville, a member of both the Georgia House and Senate, President of the Central of Georgia Railroad, and owner and President of the Sandersville Railroad. He was instrumental in locating the kaolin industry in Sandersville and served as a director of the C&S Bank and the Gulf Life Insurance Company.
In 1928, he married Rosa McMaster of Waynesboro. They had two sons, Benjamin James (Ben) Tarbutton, Jr. and Hugh McMaster Tarbutton. During the years Mr. Tarbutton served as president of the Central Georgia Railroad, the family lived in Savannah during the week and returned to their beautiful home in Sandersville on the weekends.
Ben Jr. married Nancy Rankin of Atlanta. They had three children, Anne, Rosa, and Ben III. Hugh married Loulie Eugenia (Gena) Kernaghan of Macon. They had four children, Hugh, Jr., Charles, Benji, and Loulie.
Benjamin Tarbutton, Sr. died in 1962. His wife, Rosa, remained in the home until her death in 1986. The property would remain vacant until 1996 when Ben Tarbutton, Jr. began a three-year rehabilitation of the house. The work included the stripping and repainting of the exterior cypress clapboard siding and the removal of years of paint from the interior pine paneling restoring it to its original mahogany finish. Great care was taken to maintain the historical integrity of the home.
In 2000, Ben Tarbutton III married Elisabeth (Betsy) Brumby and the newly restored property became their home. Here they raised three children Ben IV, Annabeth, and Henry.