Shaw’s Julian Saul Heads Group in Resort Purchase

Calhoun, GA, August 19-- Julian Saul, president of Shaw Industries, is one of three North Georgia investors who came together to purchase the North Georgia, Barnsley Gardens Inn & Golf resort. The three have formed the limited liability company BGAC, LLC to buy the resort. Saul, who said the group has plans to turn the Bartow County facility into “a world-class resort, declined to name the other two investors and did not disclose the sale price. The Calhoun, Georgia Times reported that a Bartow County warranty deed indicates that BGAC paid at least $10 million to acquire Barnsley Inn & Golf, LLC, which was put up for sale by previous owner Prince Hubertus Fugger of Germany. According to developers in 1999, the resort was then worth an estimated $25 million. The new owners do not plan to make any changes in management, Saul said, explaining that efforts will instead be focused on improving existing facilities. The resort currently offers 70 cottage suites, 5,000 square feet of meeting space, a championship golf course, a full-service spa, a sporting clays course, fly-fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking. According to Saul, BGAC’s plans include expanding the number of rooms as well as convention and dining facilities. Plans are also in the works to expand Barnsley’s membership and customer base. “We want more Rome members,” Saul said. A new regional sales office in Atlanta will help the expansion effort, said Euan McGlashan, managing director and general manager. McGlashan was excited to announce the sale Tuesday. “With the support of BGAC, we will be able to continue to grow and develop Barnsley Gardens into a truly world-class resort and conference venue,” he said. The resort will continue to grow, he added, as plans are in the works to build a residential community on 900 acres of remaining undeveloped land. The area is part of a nearly 4,000 acre parcel originally owned by the resort’s namesake, millionaire English immigrant Godfrey Barnsley, who built his homestead there in the 1840s. Barnsley arrived in Georgia in 1824 and quickly became one of the wealthiest men in the South, selling cotton abroad and bringing European commodities back to the United States. In 1841 he moved his children and ailing wife Julia to the Bartow County plot where he would build an estate called Woodlands. But when Julia Barnsley died in 1845, the grieving widower, left with eight children, abandoned the project and traveled for several years. He eventually finished his estate, touring Europe for furnishings and art while his eldest son found precious plants in the Orient to be used for landscaping the grounds. But much of Barnsley’s work was destroyed during a Civil War cavalry skirmish that broke out on the property in 1864. At the end of the war his unreconstructed Confederate sons immigrated to South America rather than sign the Oath of Allegiance. Barnsley moved to New Orleans to try to revitalize his failed cotton business and left Woodlands in the hands of his daughter Julia — thought to be a model for Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” — and her husband. Barnsley died in New Orleans in 1873 without regaining the family fortune. Barnsley’s descendants lived at the estate until it was auctioned in 1942. According to a history published by the resort, at that point the gardens and house fell into disrepair. Fugger bought a total of 1,300 acres of land in 1988 and began restoring the landmark. Cottages were built to resemble a 19th-century-style English village, and the gardens were revamped and expanded to complete the transformation.
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