Nesbitt/Union Chapel has been on our Preservation Priorities list for many years. Originally constructed along Powder Springs Road during the 1880s, only ruins of the chapel remain today. Last year the site made significant progress toward improvement. In April 2021, representatives from Friends of Nesbitt/Union Chapel, Cobb County PARKS, and Cobb Landmarks met to discuss what could be done with the $221,000 allocated to Nesbitt/Union Chapel from the Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), and how the project will proceed.
The first step was site cleanup. The county started by clearing the property of invasive trees and vines, dead limbs, poison ivy, trash, and underbrush. The county received help from JE Dunn Construction, who held a volunteer day at the site. The next step is stabilizing the ruins, which the county is looking to incorporate into a ghost frame outlining the original front façade of the historic structure. For this, the plan is to spend the majority of the SPLOST funds constructing a metal frame for the front of the building. The ghost frame will include the bell tower (so that the original bell can be rehung), the front door arch (so that the lintel can be reset), and the sides of the chapel just past the first two windows. Much of the original structure has collapsed through the years. Because of this, there is a multitude of stone scattered around the property. With input of the Friends group, it was decided to use some of the stone to construct a short wall to show the perimeter of the original building. Additionally, there are plans to interpret the site using informational signage.
The county has cautioned that the entire project may take quite some time to complete. Currently, the project has been sent out for bids. Now we eagerly await the selection of a contractor and look forward to continuing to guide the Friends group and the county in the preservation of this important resource.
What is SPLOST?
Per State of Georgia Legislation, a Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is an optional county sales tax used to fund capital outlay projects proposed by the county government or participating qualified municipal governments. Funding can be used for projects such as the building of parks, schools, roads, and public facilities. SPLOST funds cannot be used for operating expenses or maintenance of any county or municipal facilities.
MARIETTA, GA, June 16, 2021 - Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society dedicated a new sculpture at the William Root House on June 12, 2021. The Root House was built circa 1845 for Hannah and William Root, early settlers of Marietta. Born in Philadelphia in 1815, William moved to Marietta in August 1839 to open a drug/mercantile store on the Marietta Square. During the 1990s, the Root House was meticulously restored to its original appearance and is now operated by Cobb Landmarks as a historic house museum.
Situated on the Root House property is the circa 1830s Manning Family Cabin. Cobb Landmarks uses the cabin to help tell the stories of the enslaved individuals who labored at the Root House property and who would have lived in a similar cabin. The 1860 census shows that Marietta had 297 households and a population of approximately 2,600. Of the 297 households, 137 (46%) held slaves. According to the 1860 slave schedule (census), Marietta's slave population in 1860 was roughly 1,200, meaning that almost 45% of Marietta’s total population was enslaved at that time.
To honor and remember the the more than 1,200 enslaved people living in Marietta prior to the end of the Civil War, Cobb Landmarks partnered with Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) School of Art and Design to create a new garden sculpture. For the sculpture, KSU students used state-of-the-art scanning technology to 3D scan living history interpreter Misha Harp. This scan was used to print a maquette of the sculpture using a 3D printer, which helped inform sculptors as they crafted the full-size sculpture. The unveiling, which attracted a large crowd, included remarks by Executive Director Trevor Beemon, Living History Interpreter Misha Harp, Master Craftsman Page Burch, and a poetry reading by Sprayberry High School student Courtney Brown.
ABOUT THE WILLIAM ROOT HOUSE: Owned and operated by Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, the William Root House is one of the oldest homes remaining in the Atlanta area. Interactive touchscreens and comprehensive exhibits tell visitors about life in antebellum Georgia. Home to the Root family from 1845 to 1886, the house and property have been meticulously restored to their c. 1860 appearance.
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society is seeking funds for a new project at the William Root House. The Root House was built circa 1845 for Hannah and William Root, early settlers of Marietta. Born in Philadelphia in 1815, William moved to Marietta in August 1839 to open a drug/mercantile store on the Marietta Square. During the 1990s, the Root House was meticulously restored to its original appearance and is now operated by Cobb Landmarks as a historic house museum.
A new garden project at the Root House is intended to transform the courtyard adjacent to the newly completed museum Visitor Center. “The Visitor Center is the first thing people see when they arrive at the museum. We want to make an impactful first impression, and also give the space purpose,” said Executive Director Trevor Beemon.
The courtyard is situated between the Root House and the circa 1830s Manning Family Cabin. Cobb Landmarks uses the cabin to help tell the stories of the enslaved individuals who labored at the Root House property and who would have lived in a similar cabin. The 1860 census shows that Marietta had 297 households and a population of approximately 2,600. Of the 297 households, 137 (46%) held slaves. According to the 1860 slave schedule (census), Marietta's slave population in 1860 was 1,175, meaning that almost 45% of Marietta’s total population was enslaved at that time.
To honor and remember the many enslaved people who lived in Marietta prior to the end of the Civil War whose names were not recorded and are now lost to time, Cobb Landmarks is partnering with Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) School of Art and Design to create a garden sculpture. For the sculpture, KSU students used state-of-the-art scanning technology to 3D scan living history interpreter Misha Harp. This scan was used to print a maquette of the sculpture using a 3D printer, which will help inform sculptors as they craft the full-size sculpture in the future. Other improvements to the courtyard include new plants, garden lights, and outdoor seating for museum guests.
Cobb Landmarks hopes to raise $10,000 for this project. Funds raised beyond that amount will be used to expand the scope of the project to include the addition of on-site interpretive signage and other site improvements. Readers are encouraged to visit RootHouseMuseum.com/Garden to donate.
Marietta’s Black community worked to establish the Lemon Street Elementary School in 1894. Marietta Industrial High School was completed in 1929 and was the city’s first Black high school. The school was later renamed Lemon Street High School. Ten years after the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education ruled that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional, Marietta High School still had no Black students. That changed in 1964 when a group of Marietta citizens sent a letter to Marietta Schools Superintendent Henry Kemp asking him to allow Daphne Delk and Treville Grady to enroll in classes at Marietta High School. The school board accepted the request and Delk and Grady became the first Black students to attend Marietta High School on August 27, 1964. Following integration, the Marietta Board of Education closed the Lemon Street High School and Lemon Street Grammar School. The c. 1930 Lemon Street High School building was demolished in 1967. The c. 1950 Lemon Street Grammar School building was used for storage by the Board of Education.
In 2019, Cobb Landmarks met with Marietta City Schools to discuss the uncertain future of the Lemon Street Grammar School building. Cobb Landmarks emphasized the importance of saving the historic structure. After a series of meetings, plans were made to return the Lemon Street Grammar School to its original use: educating Marietta’s students. Marietta City Schools worked to preserve the building’s exterior and key architectural features while rehabilitating the interior, creating a modern learning environment for students. A small exhibition inside the school tells the story of the once-segregated school system, while outdoor interpretive panels focus on the history of the surrounding community.
We sat down with Chuck Gardner, Chief Operations Officer at Marietta City Schools, to discuss the rehabilitation of the Lemon Street Grammar School building.
Why do you think it was important to reuse the building?
“The history of Lemon Street is much deeper than the 1951 structure that we saved. This campus dates back to the 1890s and is an incredible part of the Marietta City Schools story.”
Was there a particular moment during the renovation that stood out to you?
“The most powerful moments in the renovation have been walking alumni around and hearing them tell stories about their school experiences in the 1950s. One former student pointed out the corner where she would warm up her teacher’s lunch for her on the radiator. These stories can’t be forgotten.”
How were you able to preserve the historic integrity of the structure while still bringing it up to modern codes?
“Our approach to the construction project was to do the demolition/abatement months before design was complete. This allowed us to see the structure. During demolition we saved a lot of the old glazed block which is a non-standard size these days. The demolition was done by hand so as to not damage the block. We used the salvaged block for infill so that it would not look different. We were also able to design new windows with muntins to match the old ones.”
What part of the project are you most proud of?
“I’m proud of the fact that we have created beautiful modern spaces which are suitable for learning, while honoring the history in such a way that when alumni visit they still recognize their former school.”
Cobb Landmarks was proud to advocate for the rehabilitation of this important landmark. It's been a pleasure to see Marietta City Schools revive the building for classroom use.
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society is celebrating Black History Month with a new Black History Walking Tour of downtown Marietta. The tour will take participants on a journey through time, from the founding of Marietta through the Civil Rights Movement. "While this walking tour presents a number of important Black heritage sites in Marietta, it's just a start. We hope people will be inspired to go learn more after the tour," said Executive Director Trevor Beemon. The walking tour is approximately 1.5 miles long and should take about one hour to complete.
The tour features many significant sites in Marietta, including Zion Baptist Church, one of the earliest Black congregations and churches in the state of Georgia. The tour also features the newly rehabilitated Lemon Street Grammar School, and includes stories about the desegregation of public schools in Marietta. "My hope is that tour-goers will walk away with a better understanding of the events, people, and places from Marietta’s past that formed the city we live in today," said Beemon.
To take the tour, visit cobblandmarks.com/blackhistory.
As part of a new educational initiative at the William Root House Museum & Garden, Cobb Landmarks is partnering with historians, local businesses owners, and “celebrities” for a series of entertaining and educational videos about everyday life during the 1860s. The videos, which are viewable both online and on touchscreens located throughout the Root House campus, show modern-day people trying their hand at 19th century tasks.
The first video in the series was filmed in the cookhouse at the Root House. For the video, Cobb Landmarks reached out to Pie Bar to see if they would be interested in baking a pie in our 1850s cast iron cookstove. Lauren Bolden, who owns Pie Bar along with her husband, agreed to take part in the project. Lauren’s enthusiasm came through during every step of the process. During filming, Lauren discussed the ingredients and the recipe, while adding humor here and there. Finally, the pie went into the oven. The final result? A pie that “does not reflect the quality of pies we serve at Pie Bar,” as Lauren put it.
Another video challenges Brielle Gaines, CEO & Co-Founder of Tiny Bubbles Tea Bar, and Mariah Rutledge, Manager, to correctly set a formal afternoon tea using instructions culled from Mrs. Crowen's American Lady's Cookery Book, published in the 1860s. Another video features local entertainers taste-testing popular 19th century dishes including foods like dandelion greens, beef tongue stew, and vinegar pie - all prepared by local food historian Clarissa Clifton and her associates.
It is our hope that these and future videos will provide a bit of levity and entertainment to educators and students - all while sneaking in important information about the time period and about how the spaces inside the Root House would have been used during the 1850s and 60s. If you would like to contribute to the production of future videos, you may make a donation to the Cobb Landmarks Operating Fund online here.
In 2018, Marietta’s c. 1845 Martin Slaughter House was at risk of being demolished for a residential development project. After a rewarding discussion between Cobb Landmarks and the property owner, Traton Homes, plans for the site were revised so that the house could remain (totally awesome of Traton)! But what would happen to the house next was another question. That’s when Marsha Durham stepped in with the dream of making the Slaughter House her home.
“This project has been such an amazing act of love and a journey that I truly treasure,” said Marsha of the restoration project. “The contractors that I worked with on this project were great and executed every vision I had to make this house into our home.” They are Chris Bailey and Nick Brannon of C & B Construction and Chris Michaels of Residential Property Preservation. “My daughters and I look forward to honoring the history of the house while making many beautiful memories.”
Marsha takes us on a tour of the home:
“The walkway was constructed of old brick that was dug up from the back yard. These original bricks were covered with layers of dirt, debris, and overgrowth. My daughters and I dug them up on Mother’s Day, knowing that we wanted to use them in a special way. They make a perfect inviting entrance to the home.”
“Walking into the home we wanted an inviting entrance. The wood floors in the kitchen and family room were hidden treasures buried beneath layers of carpet. They are beautiful 6-inch-wide heart pine planks which were restored in a natural finish to bring out their original beauty. The hearth in the entrance is reclaimed wood using a support beam from underneath the structure of the home. The details in the wood, including nail holes, add such character to the feature wall.”
“This was a great nook that we were able to create to become a home office. The walls are a reverse pine to bring out a rough appearance. The desk was constructed from two original support beams that were underneath the home. I think it’s a beautiful way to use original pieces of the structure and preserve more of its history.”
“These medicine bottles were found when digging out brick in the back yard of the home. They are hand-blown glass and I believe that these treasures may have been from Dr. Martin Slaughter’s time living in this beautiful home.”
“I wanted the kitchen to be a big part of our home. We want people to be able to enjoy the history of this home, and what better way than to gather together over a meal? The original 9-over-9 windows were an important part of the history of this home, and we wanted to be able to feature them in any way we could. We decided to do built-in benches below the side windows so that we could keep the integrity of the windows. The benches are a great addition, allowing friends to gather and enjoy the heart of the home.”
Depending on the number of family members using the privy, the waste or "night soil" would have to be removed from the vault two or three times per year. This would have never been done during the day. "Night men" would have been called to come after dark. The night men used long-handled dippers to collect the waste under the cover of darkness. The night soil was then taken away to be discarded or sold as fertilizer to nearby farmers. In the city of Marietta, privies were required to be "cleaned at least once every ten days, and be sprinkled with lime." During inspection, if the privy was not "free from filth and stench," the owner could be fined or even jailed.