Located between the Holt-Sullivan-Holton and Newman-Bell properties, is the Newman-Barja House. Built in 1855 by Major Mark Newman, this clapboard cottage of “an unorthodox version of Greek Revival style,” is one of the oldest houses in Sandersville. The original portion of the house “sat back from the road” and consisted of several small rooms with low ceilings. Extensive remodeling was done prior to the Civil War and again 1936 when two large rooms and a foyer with high ceilings were added onto the front, creating a step down from the front to the back of the house. The porch features a hipped roof and fluted Doric columns. Interestingly, the Newman-Barja house is one of only four houses in Sandersville that are physically the same and in the same location as they were in 1864.
Mark Newman was born in Posen, Prussian Poland in 1827. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 19 because of restrictions placed upon citizens by the Prussian government.
He landed in New York in 1846 and came to Savannah the following year. In the fall of 1847, he made his way to Washington County where he settled and established a dry goods business. He married Ann Ainsworth and they had two sons, James David (J.D.) and Isadore Warren Newman.
In 1861 Major Mark Newman enlisted in the Confederate Army, served with distinction in the Forty-ninth Georgia Regiment and was promoted to the rank of adjutant. He is credited with bringing Washington County back economically after the Civil War and was beloved for making certain that the widows and orphans resulting from the war received pensions from the county. He founded a system of county farms for the indigent and as county treasurer issued Washington County currency when the Confederate currency was of no value. Major Newman was chairman of the building committee for the present courthouse and the old jail, which is now a museum, and he served as the Ordinary for Washington County from 1881-1903.
In the mid 1890s, Major Newman gifted his sons parcels of land adjoining his own antebellum cottage on which to build their own homes. Isadore Newman built his house at 249 N. Harris St. and J.D. Newman at 255 N. Harris. Both houses were of the Victorian style and were constructed in 1895.
On the day that Major Mark Newman died in 1906, the large brass bell in the courthouse tower tolled 79 times – once for each year of his life. After his death, his wife moved next door to live with her son, Isadore.
The home was then occupied by Mark Newman, grandson of Major Newman and son of J.D. Newman, and his wife, Mattie Lou Walker Newman for a time. Possession then passed to Mark’s brother H.H. (Ray) Newman and his wife Clem Walker Newman who was the sister of Mattie Lou. Interestingly, the two brothers had married sisters.
Ray and Clem Newman enjoyed the home for many years until their deaths. Ownership of the property then passed to their grandson, James Warren Newman, Jr. In 1996, current owner Dr. Roberto Barja purchased the home from his estate.