Personal Space

Photograph Matt Garner

It’s a fair bet naturalist Henry David Thoreau himself would appreciate what Kerry Pittman is up to on his 16 acres of Lowndes County. The Columbus native’s 228-square-foot camp house and accompanying woods are a source of solitude, a refuge from life’s frenetic pace and mass consumerism.

“I live by Thoreau’s message, ‘Simplify, simplify, simplify!,’” Pittman says. “This is one of the main reasons I built the camp house. When you ride down Columbus’ Highway 45 North, you’re bombarded with doughnuts and 99-cent hamburgers; it’s nothing but chaos.”

Pittman’s land is equal parts conservatory and natural monastery. It’s been in his family since 1942, when his grandfather purchased it. Pittman, now a granddad of three himself, received the property deed in 1984 and has since transformed it into an eclectic getaway, where he can play his homemade diddley bow or hang an old snapping turtle skeleton.

“I converted the area from a cow pasture to timber,” says Pittman, who holds a forestry degree. “This is an experiment to see what Thoreau was talking about.”

But conservation is just one of the reasons he finds peace here.

“I also did this as a way to spend time with my grandchildren,” he says. “I wanted to take what I’ve learned about nature and share it with them.”