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Owning a Green Street home can have its surprises
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Gainesville's historic Garner-Hulsey home at 616 Green St. - photo by Scott Rogers
Garner-Hulsey House

This story is part of a series on historic homes on Gainesville's Green Street. Read other stories in the series. Copies of a free publication on Green Street home history are available at The Times at 345 Green St.

Address: 616 Green St., Gainesville

Built: 1905 or 1925

Architecture: Neoclassical revival with Corinthian columns 

Within a month after closing on the Garner-Hulsey House in 2000, Joe Diaz started digging around in the basement and found a human skull.

“I just bought the place. I didn’t want them coming and digging the place up,” Diaz said, referencing a potential investigation. The skull’s origins aren’t that nefarious, though.

Dr. John Hulsey grew up in a house identical to it next door and owned the house in 1974, according to historical records.

Diaz, who is now a Hall County Juvenile Court judge, said he contacted the original owners, who picked up the skull.

“They claimed it was a part of a skeleton that the doctor used as a display,” Diaz said.

The home, a neoclassical revival with Corinthian columns, is one of two versions of the house built on the same lot: one in 1905 and the other in 1925.

Diaz said one was destroyed by a tornado, though it is unclear which of the two is still standing.

“The real estate records don’t reflect it,” Diaz said. “It’s all one big lot. … It refers to this address for both of them.”

The center area and staircase were originally covered in an orange carpet when Diaz started his law practice there. After pulling it back, Diaz discovered the wooden flooring below.

The house is occupied by Blair Diaz CPA, Joe’s wife, and Vandeveer Hospitality Advisors. Diaz said his wife has recently expanded her business with new staff.

“We kept it all small — my end and her end — until my kids got through college,” Diaz said. “Now that they’re all gone … it’s time to grow the practice.”

The surviving Hulsey family member was in her 90s when making the deal to sell the house to the Diaz family.

“They were very protective about making sure it was somebody who was going to preserve and take care of the place versus just gut it,” Diaz said. “… We wouldn’t have bought the place if we didn’t intend to preserve it.”

Diaz said he believed it was his three children, who were small at the time, that helped seal the deal.

While moving in, the Diaz family realized that the pipes would be part of their list of renovations.

“They cut into the wall to get to the pipes, because it’s all original plaster,” Diaz said. “When they broke through, they were overwhelmed with sand (that) had come flying out of the thing. They had used sand to fill the walls where the pipes were, I guess to insulate and prevent sound.”

Diaz said there were stained glass windows surrounding the staircase that were stolen during the previous ownership.

Each fireplace in the home has its own distinct mantle, though Diaz has not used them since owning the property.

“My biggest fear is burning the place down,” Diaz said.

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Gainesville's historic Garner-Hulsey House at 616 Green St. is now owned by Juvenile Court Judge Joe Diaz and wife Blair. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Gainesville's historic Garner-Hulsey House at 616 Green St. is now owned by Juvenile Court Judge Joe Diaz and wife Blair. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Gainesville's historic Garner-Hulsey House at 616 Green St. is now owned by Juvenile Court Judge Joe Diaz and wife Blair. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Gainesville's historic Garner-Hulsey House at 616 Green St. is now owned by Juvenile Court Judge Joe Diaz and wife Blair. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Gainesville's historic Garner-Hulsey House at 616 Green St. is now owned by Juvenile Court Judge Joe Diaz and wife Blair. - photo by Scott Rogers
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