Built around 1878, the Louise Irwin House was built as a four room cottage. It was enlarged over two re-modelings to a four-square Georgian aspect. Louise Irwin, a citizen who designed the Georgia Historical Plates, inhabited the structure.
The Transylvania Club was organized in 1908 in the home of founder, Mrs. C. B. Chapman. The club started with 26 members and operated under the motto, “Service, not for ourselves but for others.” Their original philanthropy was the establishment of a public library as suggested by President Mary Tarbutton. In 1932 Louise Irwin, a member of the club, conceived of and designed the Georgia Historical Plates as part of the upcoming 1933 Georgia Bicentennial Celebration. She suggested them as a possible moneymaker for the group.
Wedgwood in London agreed to produce the plates, with a $1,500 advance. Three men, Mr. C.D. Shelnutt, Mr. C.F. Irwin, and Mr. B.J. Tarbutton, came forward and underwrote the entire sum. The plates were executed by Wedgwood from the original Queensware formula, which was first made in 1762 by Josiah Wedgwood for Queen Charlotte and named in her honor. The plates were originally produced in two sizes, dinner and salad, and were available in blue, pink and mulberry. Miss Irwin designed a border that could only belong to Georgia encircling each center object with cotton, peaches, Cherokee roses, and long-leaf pine boughs. There are twelve different designs: General James Oglethorpe; the Georgia Trustees receiving Oglethorpe and the Native Americans in London; Wesleyan College; John Wesley teaching the Indians; Richmond Academy; the old Capitol in Milledgeville; the present Capitol in Atlanta; Nancy Hart capturing the Tories; the burning of the Papers in the Yazoo Fraud; Georgia’s Revolutionary War Heroes; and Georgia’s Civil War Heroes. In 1935, the first shipment of plates left England and served as the largest fundraiser by the Transylvania Club for the library. On February 19, 1974, Governor Jimmy Carter made the plates the official historical plates for our state. They are now produced in two colors, pink and blue. A plate display can be seen in the second community library and the current home of the Transylvania Club on the square in downtown Sandersville.