Willow Oak 1001

Willow Oak Farm

Madison, GA

Willow Oak Farm

Madison, GA

  • 1,216± Acres
  • Sold

Willow Oak Farm is a legacy property located just one hour east of downtown Atlanta on the outskirts of Madison, GA. Through several strategic acquisitions, these 1,216± acres have been assembled over the last 40+ years and serve as a premier family or corporate retreat. Willow Oak’s grounds have been impeccably cared for and offer a mature landscape not commonly found. The recreational opportunity is immense and engages all generations of a family. The farm has significant water resources that include nearly two miles of Sugar Creek and four lakes totaling 30 acres that range in size from 12 to 4 acres. For years, much of the property has been intensively managed for upland habitat, providing a foundation that supports a high-quality quail-hunting program. The improvements are immaculately maintained and include two spectacular main homes that showcase the charm of Southern architecture. Willow Oak’s proximity to Atlanta offers a convenience rarely found near this major metropolitan city. This is the first time this farm has been on the market in 43 years.


Broker’s Comment

“There are many features of Willow Oak that make it special, but there are a few key aspects that make it truly unique. Those include its location, recreational diversity, and the maturity of the landscape. The convenient proximity to Atlanta and the surrounding area creates an opportunity for an active family to weave the farm seamlessly into their daily lives. Once there, every family member and friend will be entertained. There is something for everyone at Willow Oak. For over 40 years, this farm has been meticulously cared for to support the interests of a private family or corporate retreat. Willow Oak is indeed a legacy and turnkey property.”

Property Details


Willow Oak Farm is located only five miles south of the historic town of Madison, Georgia. The property is located in Morgan County and has 1.5 miles of frontage on Bethany Road. The main entrance is only five miles from I-20’s exit 114.

Only 20 minutes from the property, Greensboro offers a general aviation airport with a 5,500 ft. runway suitable for private jets.

Only one hour from the harried pace of Atlanta, Willow Oak offers immediate serenity and provides outdoor opportunities rarely experienced this close to the city. This ease of access allows family and friends to gather often to enjoy the camaraderie of one another and the great outdoors.

  • 1 hour = Atlanta, GA (downtown)
  • 30 minutes = Athens, GA
  • 20 minutes = Ritz Carlton and Reynolds Plantation at Lake Oconee
  • 5 minutes = Madison, GA


Founded in 1807, Madison is considered to be one of Georgia’s greatest small towns. Its history and antebellum architecture showcase the Old South and small town living. To protect their quality of life, the community has always been committed to preserving their historic areas. The charming and vibrant town square boasts one of the most beautiful courthouses in the state (built in 1845). For more information on Madison, click the following link: Madison, Georgia.

Athens, GA is a short 30-minute drive north of Willow Oak. A vibrant college town, Athens is home to the University of Georgia and is often referred to as the “Classic City.” Athens is known for its varied cuisine and the Georgia Theatre, a noted music venue. Athens Academy, a private prep school, is often attended by children from Madison.

Lake Oconee, a 40,000-acre recreational reservoir, is twenty minutes southeast of the property. There are several marinas located on the lake. The Ritz Carlton and Reynolds Plantation offer first-class amenities, which include 117 holes of magnificent golf designed by some of the most respected architects in the game.

Augusta, GA, home of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Golf Tournament is a little over one hour away.


Located in the Piedmont region of Georgia, this area offers a mild, pleasant climate and four distinct seasons. Spring arrives in March with mild days and cool nights. By late May, temperatures have warmed up considerably to herald warm summer days. On average, July is the warmest month of the year. With an average annual rainfall of 47 inches, the spring and summer months tend to receive more precipitation than other times of the year. Fall is marked by mild to warm days and cooler nights. Winter is usually mild, with the coldest days averaging lows near or slightly above freezing and highs in the upper 40s to mid-50s. Snow occurs rarely.

General Description

As one approaches Willow Oak, you are greeted by mature cedar trees coordinated with a black-board fence that lines the frontage of Bethany Road, which evokes feelings of quality, privacy, and anticipation. Bethany Road is a two-lane country road that is lightly traveled. Upon arrival, one is immediately impressed with the beauty and design of the houses and horse barn. All of the structures are conveniently sited. The two main houses are 30 yards apart and are shaded by mature willow oaks and pecan trees. Directly behind the homes is a common area with a pool and pavilion area, bocce court, skeet and trap range, chipping green, and sports field.

Beyond this recreational area lies an uninterrupted view shed drawing your eye towards the heart of the farm. Traveling the main farm road, you immediately arrive at the 10-acre lake. This lake has a dock, fishing boats and canoes. Continuing on, the farm’s quail habitat begins to unfold. Interspersed with hardwood drains and ridges, these piney woods continue on to all corners of the property. This scenery inspires one to spend time in the woods and on the lakes pursuing one’s outdoor passions. As you head further into the property, you will soon arrive at the dam of the 12-acre lake with one of the 4-acre lakes resting below you. The large lake has a BBQ pit, brick grill, swimming dock and rope swing.

On the northern half of Willow Oak there is a predominate ridge that runs east to west, providing some attractive slope and diversity to the property. Upon dropping off this ridge, you enter the bottoms of Sugar Creek that consists of about 80 acres of open land. Most of the 80 acres is managed quail habitat and green fields.  To the west of this area and tucked into the woods, you will find the Shoals Camp. This Shoals Camp was designed with children in mind and is a space for them to engage in the outdoors and let their imaginations run rampant.

This farm has an excellent network of well-maintained trails and roads allowing for extensive access to the far reaches of the farm. The farm’s operations are overseen by two ethically sound, competent and hard-working men.


1,216± acres

An extensive survey was completed in June 2007 and can be provided upon request.

A rough land composition is estimated to be:

700 acres – managed pine woods & upland fields

450 acres – hardwood forests

30 acres – lakes

35 acres – other uses (i.e. houses and pastures)


The annual property taxes for Willow Oak are approximately $19,167.

The farm is currently enrolled in Georgia’s Conservation Use Value Assessment Program, which allows for a reduction in property taxes. Savings in 2015 equaled $40,862. This is a 10-year program that expires on December 31, 2018. This is not a Conservation Easement.

Since there is not a Conservation Easement on the property, a new owner could realize significant tax benefits if he elected to protect the landscape in perpetuity.


Main Residence “Old House” – 4,260 sq. ft.: Richard Harris built this residence in 1866 upon his return to the family’s plantation after the Civil War. The home is considered to be a simple farmhouse and has the original heart pine floors, horsehair plaster walls, hand-planed ceiling boards and a beautiful staircase. The house has been meticulously maintained and over the years charmingly expanded to six bedrooms and six baths. In 2014, there was a renovation that included a new gourmet kitchen with soapstone countertops, a new screen porch, and an expanded den that contains a fireplace and bar. The renowned residential architect, William Baker, designed the renovation. William Baker has achieved an international architectural reputation for high design and a keen sensitivity for combining new expansions with original interior plans. Renowned interior designers, Dan Carithers and Phoebe Howard, provided the interior design. There are six wood burning fireplaces, central HVAC and a large brick patio shaded by mature willow oaks. Most residences of this era had a separate kitchen-house. The “kitchen-house” has been repurposed and local stone and brick were used to build an oversized fireplace. After a day’s hunt, this is the perfect gathering place for warming up next to a roaring fire!

Main Residence “New House” – 3,924 sq. ft.: In 2006, this house was built to provide additional accommodations as the owner’s family grew. The house is reminiscent of the Old House and uses the same building materials and details. This house fits the landscape seamlessly and offers the comforts of modern day amenities. It is two stories with six bedrooms and six bathrooms. The main floor has an open plan living area featuring 12 foot ceilings, a gourmet kitchen, and large fireplace. A classic screened porch wraps around the first floor. On one side of the porch there is a stone patio that includes a saline water swimming pool, terraced gardens, and a gazebo. On the opposite side of the porch, a large, raised-bed garden provides fresh vegetables and extensive beds of perennial flowers. Once again, William Baker was the architect while Dan Carithers and Phoebe Howard provided the interior design.

Stable: A well-designed horse stable compliments the architecture of the houses. The stable contains seven stalls, a wash stall, bathroom, tack room and feed room. Vaulted ceilings and fans provide excellent ventilation. A smaller abutting stable provides another three stalls. Adequate fenced pastures adjoin the stable.

Kennel: A new kennel was built for the hunting dogs in 2014. It includes seven dog runs, loafing area, feed room and a bird-cleaning room. The kennel can be heated or cooled.

Shoals Camp: This raised platform structure is a kid’s dream and will make adults feel like kids again! Its location is deep in the woods and sited alongside Sugar Creek where large rock shoals create a relaxing sound. The camp includes 4 one-bedroom cabins and another cabin for living/dining with an attached kitchen and bathroom. A large generator enclosed in a sound-insulated shed powers the camp. A propane tank supplies the stove.

Party Barn: This shed-like building is a short distance from the Shoals Camp and is also powered by the generator. As a remote gathering place, it includes a full kitchen, barbeque pit and a large room for many picnic tables. Large parties, family wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners have taken place here. A small stage provides a place for bands.

Caretaker’s House – 1,869 sq. ft.: This residence is located a short distance from the main compound and provides quick response time if needed. It includes three bedrooms, brick fireplace, a front porch, an enclosed back porch, and an attached carport. Other structures around this house include two pole sheds and a chicken coop.

Employee’s House – 1,635 sq.ft.: This is a simple two-bedroom home. The home includes a carport, enclosed porch and wood deck. There is also a storage shed.

Other Structures: There are several other functional structures used to operate the farm that include equipment sheds and storage barns.


Willow Oak is a special property that offers a wide variety of recreational uses that engages all generations to explore and connect with the outdoors. The four lakes offer a number of water activities from swimming to paddle boarding to kayaking and fishing.

The farm is well suited for the equestrian having all the infrastructure needed to accommodate horses. The miles of trails and roads provide the utmost for equestrian exploration. On a ride, one will enjoy beautiful vistas, game sightings and a landscape that will create lasting memories.

This trail system also provides for a number of other activities such as hiking, mountain biking, ATV-use and jogging. An extensive trail system is undeniably an asset when it comes to recreating.

To sharpen your shooting eye, there is a regulation skeet range and a two-level trap house that provide for challenging but fun competitions. Quality hunting is managed year round and is discussed in more detail in the following “Wildlife Resources” section.

In summary, Willow Oak is a property that offers an owner the exclusive opportunity to have an abundant amount of outdoor recreation. It is a property that can be appreciated and enjoyed by family and friends. Many years of committed management by the current owners have resulted in creating this special and unique place.


The wildlife on Willow Oak is abundant. The land has been managed for 35+ years with an intense focus on wildlife. The hunting and fishing opportunities are truly special for middle Georgia.

Quail: Significant expanses of the farm have been managed for upland habitat and they support a first-class quail hunting program. This habitat offers a number of different settings from mature, thinned pine forests to upland fields. It would take years for an owner in middle Georgia to develop this habitat, and Willow Oak provides a turnkey quail experience. The hunting is done from a mule drawn wagon or specially designed jeeps. A kennel of pointing dogs is in place and ready to go. This landscape and quail program is in fact unique for this part of Georgia.

Big Game: Deer and turkey are prevalent throughout the property. Given the fact the habitat is managed so well, the deer and turkey populations are higher than typically seen in this area. The upland habitat provides excellent nesting conditions for turkeys as well as great cover for deer. A quality deer management program has been implemented. The landscape is alive with mature mast-producing oaks, and green fields are strategically managed throughout the farm. The terrain lends itself to many ideal hunting settings.

Ducks: On the northwestern portion of Willow Oak, there is a flooded duck impoundment that encompasses about seven acres. This area consists of a pond, standing timber and a floodable grain field. Footbridges and duck blinds allow for comfortable hunting conditions. Wood ducks are the primary species with other puddle ducks commonly sighted. The duck pond provides for some enjoyable winter morning shooting.

Fishing: The water resources on Willow Oak are excellent and provide ample fishing opportunities. There are four lakes that total 30 acres of water. The sizes of the individual lakes are 12, 10, 4 and 4 acres. Bass and bream are plentiful. Professional fish biologists have managed the lakes and the results have produced trophy bass. In today’s world, permitting to construct lakes like these would be extremely difficult and most likely not attainable.

History & Aesthetics

The beauty of Willow Oak is first felt upon nearing the main entrance. The road is lined with mature cedar trees and a black four-board fence that conveys it is an exceptional country property. Willow Oak’s beauty stems from 43 years of ownership by a family committed to its stewardship. Its landscape is mature and the gently rolling hills of middle Georgia create the ideal setting.


There is a storied history of Willow Oak Farm beginning with land grants issued after Georgia’s purchase of the lands from the Creek Indians. In addition, 10,000 Union soldiers with wagons and cannons camped at Sugar Creek after the siege of Madison. The Generals stayed in Benjamin Harris’ home (father of Richard Harris).

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