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.
Hoping to capitalize on the tremendous growth of the area during the second half of the 19th century, the Western and Atlantic Railroad developed a brochure in 1885 to advertise passenger schedules, and to describe the cities and attractions in the area. Joseph M. Brown, who later served as Governor of Georgia, was working for the railroad at the time. Serving as General Passenger Agent, he was responsible for providing content for the brochure. Brown decided to include a description of each city along the rail line. When writing about Marietta, he wrote that it was “the little Gem City of Georgia.” The phrase stuck - for a while.
After a few decades, “The Gem City” was used less and less to describe Marietta. Eventually, new phrases and slogans like "It's Hip to be Square" were developed, and “The Gem City” began to fade into obscurity. Fast forward to the early 2000s when Cobb Landmarks is working on a Marietta history book. Written by Douglas M. Frey, the book explores Marietta's history with stories of fifty historic Marietta houses. When it came to naming the book, there was a clear choice. It would be called Marietta: The Gem City of Georgia. Today Cobb Landmarks is keeping the phrase alive with a line of products available in the Gift Shop at the William Root House Museum.
Gary Lassiter, a descendant of Hannah and William Root, recently contacted Cobb Landmarks to say that he had something to give to the organization. The imaginations of the Cobb Landmarks staff members went wild. The last time Lassiter had stopped by the William Root House Museum, which is owned and operated by Cobb Landmarks, he ended up donating a stack of some forty Root family letters written between 1830 and 1890, as well as a collection of books, countless family photos, and a variety of personal items from Hannah, William, and the Root children. A direct descendant of Mary Root, Hannah and William’s only daughter, Lassiter has collected and preserved Root family heirlooms his entire life.
Lassiter arrived at the Root House on January 17th with a large package in tow. Before revealing the contents, he began to tell a story that sounded familiar to Cobb Landmarks Executive Director Trevor Beemon. The story was about a Presbyterian Minister named John Simpson, an ardent patriot during the Revolutionary War and grandfather of Hannah (Simpson) Root.
A resident of Chester County, South Carolina, John Simpson had been the pastor at Fishing Creek Church since 1774, but decided to join the local militia led by Thomas Sumter in 1780. That same year, Lord Cornwallis, the British commander in the south, ordered British Legion commander Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton to find Sumter and his men. Notorious Loyalist commander Christian Huck was sent to capture Simpson at Fishing Creek Church on Sunday, June 11, 1780. Huck had intended to find Simpson and his congregation at the church, but he found no one there. Huck ordered the church be burned and started toward Simpson’s home.
Simpson’s wife, Mary, was informed of Huck’s impending arrival and took her children to hide in an orchard near the home. When Huck arrived, his men ransacked the house and set the house, library, and barn on fire. When the British soldiers departed, Mary ran into the burning library to save as many books as she could. Suffering from burns, Mary was able to save two aprons full of books, including the family Bible - this family Bible, which Lassiter now held in his hands.
If the story sounds like something straight out of Hollywood, you’re right. Both Banastre Tarleton and Christian Huck inspired the character Colonel William Tavington in the movie, The Patriot. The film’s character, Reverend Oliver, is loosely based on John Simpson. The events of June 11, 1780, are also commemorated each year during a reenactment held at Historic Brattonsville in South Carolina. The event includes a reenactment of the burning of Simpson’s home and his wife’s retrieval of the family Bible.
Beemon, who had studied the Revolutionary War in college and had attended the reenactments held at Brattonsville several times, was shocked to be holding the Bible that had been part of such an incredible Revolutionary War story.
Research into the Bible confirms that it was published in 1700. Likely damaged during the fire, the Bible was rebound in 1788. The Bible was handed down to Hannah Root’s father, Leonard Simpson, and was then handed down to Hannah and William Root upon Leonard’s death in 1856. The Roots had the Bible rebound again in 1860, and a final time in 1888. Though the Bible has been rebound several times, it still retains its original front and back covers, which include signatures from Rev. John Simpson, William Root, and William’s sons, “Willie” and “Jim.”
Cobb Landmarks plans to build a special case and design an exhibit panel to tell the story of this rare artifact. The Bible will be displayed in the Root House, returning it to the place it resided during the mid-1800s when the Root family owned it. “Cobb Landmarks is truly honored to have this Bible in our collection and we thank Gary Lassiter for his generosity and his faith in our organization to care for this treasure,” said Beemon.
Earlier this year, Marietta City Schools announced plans to relocate its Central Office to the site of the old Lemon Street High School near the Marietta Square. The new structure would be designed to replicate the c. 1930 Lemon Street High School building that had been demolished in 1967. Plans for the new building included a museum dedicated to telling the story of Marietta City Schools from 1892 to the present day. The plan was very exciting, but one thing wasn't clear - the future of the c. 1950 Lemon Street Grammar School located directly across the street. The district needed more space, and the old Grammar School building was in need of substantial upgrades and repairs. A rumored demolition plan prompted Trevor Beemon, Executive Director of Cobb Landmarks, to reach out to Marietta City Schools.
"For me it was important for Cobb Landmarks to get in touch with Marietta City Schools early in the planning stages of their project," said Beemon. "I want Cobb Landmarks to be a resource for our partners. I have found that opening up a dialogue and helping walk through different options usually leads to a successful outcome for everyone." When Trevor met with Grant Rivera, Superintendent of Marietta City Schools, he was happy to hear that preserving the Lemon Street Grammar School was a priority of his. "We have always known, due to its unique history, that the building is worth saving," said Rivera. Cobb Landmarks expressed the importance of maintaining the historic exterior of the structure at the very least, but hoped for more. "The question was whether we could afford to save the building while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars," said Rivera. "We are pleased to say that, after careful study, we will be able to do both."
Currently used as a warehouse for the District, the Lemon Street Grammar School will be returned to its original use: educating Marietta's students. Marietta City Schools plans to preserve the building's exterior and key architectural features while rehabilitating the interior, making it conducive to a modern learning environment. The building is slated to open in 2021 as the new home to the Marietta Performance Learning Center, a division of Marietta High School. A small exhibition inside the school will further tell the story of the once-segregated school system, while outdoor interpretive panels will focus on the history of the surrounding community. "When historic buildings are torn down, a part of the past disappears forever," said Beemon."Preserving buildings like the Lemon Street Grammar School means we care about the places where our community's character was shaped."
The Marietta Board of Education voted unanimously to support the rehabilitation of the Lemon Street Grammar School during their June 11, 2019 meeting.
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society is honored to be the recipient and guardian of two important and substantial collections of historical documents, correspondence, photographs, maps, and newspapers donated by the Marietta Daily Journal and the Bill Kinney family. These collections form a unique picture of the history of Marietta and Cobb County over the last century and will provide an invaluable tool to local history researchers in the future.
Bill Kinney, Jr., who died in 2016 after a lifetime in Cobb County, was longtime editor of first the Cobb County Times and then the Marietta Daily Journal when those papers merged. His obituary refers to him as "a living, breathing encyclopedia for everything Cobb County." He retired in 2013 after 75 years covering the people and politics of Marietta and Cobb. His "Around Town" column was the premier source of local news for many years, and his name still appeared on the masthead as Associate Editor Emeritus until his death.
The Kinney collection contains some personal items - including his typewriter - as well as personal papers and correspondence covering events ranging from the establishment of Kennesaw Battlefield Park, the Leo Frank case, the building of the Bell Bomber Plant, the founding of Kennesaw College, and much, much more.
The Marietta Daily Journal collection comprises a vast collection of reporter notebooks, film, photography, and audio recordings.
Cobb Landmarks thanks the MDJ and the Kinney family for entrusting us with this rich collection of local history materials. Cobb Landmarks' long-term plan is to digitize each collection. This project will be funded through grants and/or private donations. Cobb Landmarks is currently seeking funding. The vision is to provide access to these and similar files through a searchable database through the Cobb Landmarks website and to establish a research library located in Marietta.
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society has received the personal works and research materials of the late Joe Kirby, local historian and longtime columnist and Editorial Page Editor at the Marietta Daily Journal.
The family of the late Joe Kirby has donated his personal collection of photographs, books, research materials, notes, and awards to Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society. Longtime columnist and Editorial Page Editor at the Marietta Daily Journal, Joe wrote several local history books, including The Marietta Country Club: A Centennial History, 1915-2015, The Bell Bomber Plant, and The Lockheed Plant. He also co-authored Then and Now: Marietta and Then and Now: Marietta Revisited, and served as Contributing Editor to Civil War News for many years. Joe passed away on October 30, 2015.
Joe earned a degree in history and communications from James Madison University in 1977. Following graduation, he worked as a general assignment reporter for The Chieftain in Toccoa, Georgia. After moving to the Roswell Neighbor in 1986, Joe took a job at the Marietta Daily Journal in 1987 and was named Editorial Page Editor in 1992. Joe held this position until his death. During his time with the Marietta Daily Journal, Joe received numerous awards, including The Freedom of Information Award, as well as awards from the Georgia Press Association and the Associated Press (Georgia).
Joe was also very involved in the community and served on the boards of the Cobb Library Foundation, Kennesaw Mountain Historical Association, the Marietta Kiwanis Club, and the Marietta Museum of History, and was a longtime member and supporter of Cobb Landmarks.
Cobb Landmarks has recently embarked on a $600,000 capital expansion project entitled The Next Generation, which will enlarge Cobb Landmarks' William Root House Museum campus, adding executive offices, a lecture and event space, and a conference room and research library. Because of the significance of the collection and the donation, Cobb Landmarks is pleased to announce that it will be naming the new research library the Joe Kirby Research Library in his honor. Cobb Landmarks is pleased to be the permanent home of the Joe Kirby collection and looks forward to making these priceless materials available to researchers and historians in the future.
ABOUT COBB LANDMARKS: Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society has succeeded in preserving and protecting some of Georgia's most historically relevant buildings through the generosity of dedicated supporters - people who care deeply about local history. Each year, Cobb Landmarks provides engaging programs and activities that reach thousands of preservationists, tourists, teachers, college students, and school-age children. Many of these programs are centered on the organization's two historic properties, the William Root House Museum & Garden and the Power Cabin.
ABOUT THE NEXT GENERATION: Cobb Landmarks plans to move the historic 1830s Manning Cabin to the William Root House Museum property. Once relocated to the Root House site, the 875 sq. ft. cabin will be used as an exhibit space and as an event and lecture space. A large addition to the cabin will contain executive offices, a research library and conference room, public restrooms, and a small catering kitchen. Cobb Landmarks also plans to make the space available to rent for private events and meetings.
LEARN MORE: cobblandmarks.com/nextgeneration
581 Kennesaw Avenue NW, Marietta, GA
$2,499,900 | 5 bed | 4.5 bath | 5,407SqFt | 5.5acres
Oakton, a 5.5-acre estate that includes Marietta’s oldest surviving house, is back on the market. The house was built around 1838 by Judge David Irwin, and it served as the headquarters for Confederate Major General William W. Loring during the battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864. Oakton is one of the most historic estates in all of Georgia. A masterful combination of architectural styles, the five-bay stucco facade features octagonal bay windows, ornamented porch posts, a dramatic entry with a decorative glass transom and sidelights, and deep gabled dormers. The landscape includes boxwood gardens that date from the 1870s and outbuildings that have been meticulously restored and maintained.