The Hightower House, located at 117 E. Atlanta Road, was built in the 1800s as the only medical facility in the area, built by Dr. Richard Hightower.
It housed a doctor’s office, a drugstore and a hospital. Through the years it became a home, then a business, then fell into disrepair.
The city of Stockbridge was the most recent owners of the house, and let the Henry County Fire Department use it as a training ground. Capt. Sabrina Puckett said it trained firefighters in search and rescue and survival techniques.
And most recently, it was torched to help train the current fire department class of recruits.
“It’s the most realistic training these guys will get before they go online,” she said. “It’s valuable live-fire training.”
So on Aug. 16, before the house was set on fire, members of the Hightower family — descendants of the man who built the home — gathered to hear a little history of the house and to watch its final blaze of glory.
Bill Hightower, a descendant of Richard Hightower, shared his memories of the home as many Stockbridge residents gathered around the home and on the streets to witness the burning.
Davina Studley, who once lived in the home and who is a North Carolina firefighter, was the one to light the house.
She shared her thoughts and thanked the county and the city of Stockbridge before beginning the fire.
“It is only fitting that we stop to remember the historical significance this house has played in the development of Stockbridge and Henry County,” Stockbridge Mayor Lee Stuart said in a press release. “The Hightower family history shows that they have always been committed to the community, serving as sheriff to medical doctor, to firefighter and EMT technician. Now in its final days, this house has been used to train a multitude of fire fighters and EMTs, who unselfishly serve others like the Hightower family has.”
Puckett said the fire was lit and put out several times as part of the training exercise, but was finished by 1:15 a.m.