It is one of the greatest quail hunting plantations in the state of Georgia, 1,020 acres in size. Gillionville’s Main House, shaded by stunning 250-year-old live oak trees, was built in the 1930s and designed by the architect Edward Vason Jones—famously known for his renovations on the White House and the U.S. State Department. (Jones was 21 when he designed Gillionville and was actually studying to be a dentist.) The architecture breathtaking, and the Main House has beams in the living room that were salvaged from a barn in the 1800s, and there are fireplaces at each end. Jones’ first major work resulted in one of the most beautiful, warm, and charming hunting lodges in the world, now up for sale for the first time in its 140-year history.
Its owner, Hilly Thompson—described by former business associate Chip Hall as “the nicest man in the world”—is proud of the property that has been in his family for over a century. For him, it will always be a special place. He started going there for the hunting season when he was four or five with his grandparents.
Eventually, Hilly and his brother got into farming, allowing the family to still enjoy the sport of quail hunting in their free time and for Gillionville to prosper. The brothers later expanded the farming operation to include pecan groves.
In 1983, Gillionville began operating as a private quail hunting club. Hilly started working with Chip Hall to turn the property into a members-only shooting club. “It was a gamble,” Hilly said. “No one had really done that before, at least not in the style that we did.”
Hilly wanted to offer the classic style of quail hunting “the way my grandparents and great-grandparents did it”—a true gentleman’s sport. The hunting parties had quality bird dogs and utilized horses and mule wagons for transportation. “The quality of the lodge and quality of the hunting,” Hilly said, “were equally important.”
Before the Club opened, Hilly wanted to make sure at least ten members were committed. After some time, nine said they’d join. “Well,” Hilly laughs, “we went with it and started.”
The Club began with members and their guests who returned year after year to experience the plantation’s wonderful accommodations, spectacular scenery, family atmosphere, and exceptional hunting. During the season each member had their own private week to come stay with friends and family at the plantation. It was a successful venture, allowing for the grounds and house to be well maintained. Eight to 12 guests would stay at a time and enjoy all that Gillionville had to offer.
Gillionville is special, a place of great times and wonderful memories. It is truly beautiful, as you can see by the accompanying images here. During its 35-plus years as a hunting club, it attracted some of the most influential people in the world.
In 2018, hurricanes damaged parts of the plantation forcing the hunting club to shut down. Fortunately, the house was unharmed and the damage to the property has been repaired.
In the Main House at Gillionville there are seven guest rooms. There are two more bedrooms in the quarters above the kitchen. Gillionville is surrounded by Deer Run, Cane Mill and Abigail Plantations. Other nearby plantations include Pine Knoll, Ecila, Magnolia, Nochaway, Nilo and Tarva. It is located just west of the center of Albany, Georgia.
The plantation is being listed by Plantation Services, Inc. Chip Hall’s business partner, Lee Walters, is handling the sale. Purchasing Gillionville would be like buying a classic Ferrari from a meticulous, passionate, and knowledgeable owner. We hope to see Hilly’s tradition live on