Recent posts on social media have expressed concern about the possible demolition of the 1840s McAfee House located at the corner of Barrett Parkway and Bells Ferry Road. This is a status report on efforts by Cobb Landmarks to secure its preservation.
Since 2019 Cobb Landmarks has been facilitating negotiations with the current owner and potential developers for relocation of the historic house. While there is a historic marker in front of the house, currently, the house and land are not protected through local zoning or historic designation. Because of the value of the land, it is likely not financially viable for a developer to purchase the property and then renovate the house for commercial use. Because of this, Cobb Landmarks has for several years attempted to relocate the house. In 2020, Cobb Landmarks invited structural engineers and house movers to inspect and evaluate the home, and they confirmed the house was a good candidate for relocation. Efforts to reach an agreement with the current property owner to relocate the house have so far been unsuccessful. We have also been speaking with potential buyers/developers to relocate the house. Over the years we have had conversations with several potential buyers, including the current zoning applicant. Each has agreed that the house should be relocated and not be demolished. In the meantime, there are plans to eventually construct a turn lane at the intersection in front of the house, adding another complication regarding the long-term preservation of the historic structure.
A lot of people are asking what they can do to help. A good place to start is attending Planning Commission Zoning Hearings and Board of Commissioner Regular Meetings. Similarly, you can reach out to Cobb County Commissioners to share your thoughts and concerns prior to important hearings/meetings. The next best thing is to support preservation organizations like Cobb Landmarks on a regular basis, either through volunteerism or through financial support. You can help ensure that Cobb Landmarks has the resources to work to secure historic assets throughout the county on an ongoing basis. As this example shows, we are constantly advocating for historic preservation behind the scenes. To support Cobb Landmarks click here. To learn about our current “Preservation Priorities” list click here.
ABOUT THE McAFEE HOUSE: This historic central hallway cottage is located on Bells Ferry Road at the intersection of Ernest W Barrett Parkway in Marietta, Georgia. The house is constructed of heart pine wood timbers joined with wooden pegs. The house features original heart pine floors throughout (currently concealed under carpet) and heart pine plank walls and ceilings (currently concealed under paneling and sheetrock). This timber frame house was constructed c. 1840 for early Cobb County settlers Eliza and Robert McAfee. During the Civil War, the house was used as a headquarters for Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard. The house was purportedly used as a field hospital following a skirmish near “McAfee’s Crossroads” on June 11, 1864 (blood stains are reported to be visible on the floorboards in an upstairs bedroom). The house is among the oldest remaining in the Atlanta area and is the last remaining pre-Civil War structure in the densely developed Town Center area of Cobb County.
ABOUT COBB LANDMARKS: Since its founding in 1974, Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, Inc. has succeeded in preserving and protecting some of Cobb’s most historically relevant sites. Cobb Landmarks is a historical society rooted in the past but always looking forward. The organization is committed to empowering the community with an understanding of the events, people, and places that formed our past, so that we may all strive for a brighter future.
On December 7th Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, Inc. joined members of the Carter family and distinguished guests, including Marietta Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin, to dedicate a historic marker at the Carter Family House. The Cole Street house is significant in that it is among the oldest remaining historic Black residences in what was once one of Marietta’s largest historically Black neighborhoods. Over time, the Marietta Housing Authority acquired all of the property south of the Carter House, and the Cole Street Missionary Baptist Church acquired all of the property to the north. At one point, the Marietta Housing Authority tried to buy the Carter property, but the family resisted. Today the 1909 house is the only private residence remaining on the block.
Sarah Young and Oscar Carter purchased the house in 1944. The couple raised four children in the house: Donald, Oscar, Jr., Alphonse, and Kenneth. Oscar, Sr. worked as a custodian for Bell Aircraft Company during WWII, and later for the City of Marietta. Sarah worked as a "washer woman” according to the 1930 Census, as a "house maid” according to the 1950 Census, and, later in life, as a Practical Nurse at Dr. Remer Clark's office. She was an active education advocate and served as President of the Lemon Street PTA. Oscar, Sr. died in 1980, and Sarah died in 1991. Their son, Kenneth Carter, was executor of Sarah's will and purchased the Carter House at that time.
Kenneth graduated from Lemon Street High School in 1952. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps during the Korean War. After completing his military duty, Kenneth pursued education, earning a degree from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, and a Master's degree from the University of Indiana. Kenneth married Jeanie Martin in 1955. In 1962 and went to work as an educator, administrator, and coach in the Marietta City School System. He worked at Lemon Street School, Wright Street Middle School, Park Street Middle School, Lockheed Elementary School, Woods/Wilkins, Marietta Middle School, and Marietta High School. “Coach Carter,” as he was known, worked a total of 48 years in the Marietta school system.
Jeanie, who still lives on nearby Lemon Street, helped to integrate the Marietta City School system as an educator during the 1960s. After teaching at Lemon Street Elementary and Wright Street Elementary, she began working at Hickory Hills Elementary. She taught in the system for 32 years, retiring at Marietta Middle School. After retiring from the classroom, she went on to become the first Black woman to be elected to the Marietta City School Board. She held that office for 16 years.
Today the Carter House stands as a reminder of the legacy of the Carter family and as a symbol of the vibrant Black community which once surrounded it. The historic marker was erected through a partnership between Cobb Landmarks and the Marietta History Center’s Diverse Cobb Committee. The committee manages a grant fund created to erect historic markers in Marietta’s historically Black neighborhoods. The fund was established by Marietta residents Jo-Evelyn and Jim Morris. To nominate a site, or to contribute to the fund, please contact Cobb Landmarks at 678.594.4994.
Fund Created To Erect Historic Markers In Marietta's Historically Black Neighborhoods
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, Inc. (Cobb Landmarks) is partnering with the Marietta History Center’s Diverse Cobb Committee to manage a grant fund established to help erect historic markers in Marietta’s historically Black neighborhoods. Initial funding for the project has been provided by Jo-Evelyn and Jim Morris. A Diverse Cobb Committee member, Jim asked the committee to identify homes of significance within the Black community.
The first home to receive a marker through the grant program was the home once owned by Katie and Charlie Hunter, Sr. Mr. Hunter was a successful restaurant owner and entrepreneur, and owned several businesses near the corner of Montgomery and Hunt Streets in Marietta. The marker was unveiled on July 11, 2022. Members of the Hunter family were joined by Marietta History Center Director Amy Reed, Cobb Landmarks Executive Director Trevor Beemon, and donors Jo-Evelyn and Jim Morris.
To nominate a site, or to contribute to the fund, please contact Cobb Landmarks at 678.594.4994.
On May 21st Cobb Landmarks hosted its annual Preservation Awards and Reception at the historic William Root House in downtown Marietta. Coinciding with National Historic Preservation month, the event is a chance for Cobb Landmarks to shine a light on individuals and projects that represent an outstanding contribution to the preservation of local history. Honorees included:
Bob & Susan Milani - Lazy Labrador Coffee House, Kennesaw
Bob and Susan retired last year and wanted to become more invested in their community. They were soon researching locations and discovered a revitalization plan for downtown Kennesaw. The plan included a community survey identifying the need for a coffee shop. A day later, Bob & Susan acquired a historic 1909 cottage in the heart of Kennesaw’s downtown historic district. After a 20-month renovation, the Lazy Labrador Coffee House opened its doors on November 18, 2021.
Tracey & Aaron Marino - Old First Methodist Church Building, Salon Posta, Marietta
Included in the Cobb Landmarks Preservation Priorities Watchlist for many years, the Old First Methodist Church Building, which was constructed in 1848, is one of the oldest structures remaining in downtown Marietta. After housing FUMC for 50 years, the building was converted to an opera house, back to a church, to an auto dealership, and to a lighting store. After sitting vacant for many years, Aaron and his team had the vision to renovate the building for use as a salon, while maintaining key historic features including the decorative beadboard ceiling.
The Hardy Family- Seven Springs Country Store, Rooted Trading Co., Powder Springs
Often referred to locally as the Seven Springs Country Store, this Powder Springs landmark was constructed during the 1860s. An addition was constructed during the 1890s connecting the store to a barn and blacksmith shop which dates to the 1850s. After an extensive renovation, the general store is now home to Rooted Trading Company, and the barn and blacksmith shop is occupied by Hardy Woodworks.
Save Acworth History Foundation - Acworth Christian Church, Acworth
Another site listed on the Cobb Landmarks Preservation Priorities Watchlist, Acworth Christian Church was founded in 1858. The original structure was located on Mitchell Hill near downtown Acworth. After the Civil War, the present building was erected in 1875. Modifications made to the building significantly altered its appearance, and a lack of maintenance over the years led to deterioration of the structural integrity of the building. The Save Acworth History Foundation spearheaded fundraising efforts and oversaw the stabilization and renovation of the structure.
Marsha Durham - Martin Slaughter House, Marietta
Another site listed on the Cobb Landmarks Preservation Priorities Watchlist, Marietta's 1840s Martin Slaughter House was at risk of being demolished for a housing development. After a rewarding discussion with the developer, Traton Homes, plans were revised so that the house could remain. A new owner, Marsha Durham, purchased and rehabilitated the house for use as a private residence. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Slaughter House is one of the few remaining homes in Marietta dating back to the 1840s.
Jeanette Cobb - Volunteer of the Year
The Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County have managed the gardens at the William Root House for roughly 30 years. Jeanette has helped lead the Master Gardener initiative at the Root House for several years. She is wholly dedicated to making the gardens not only beautiful, but also authentic to the period, and educational for museum guests. Many of the plants found in the garden today began as seeds at Jeanette’s house, lovingly grown in containers and planted in our gardens once established. Cobb Landmarks is happy to recognize Jeanette for all she does for the Root House.
PHOTOS: Download more high-res photos here.
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’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.
The Cobb Landmarks Historic Preservation Committee has announced an addition to their Preservation Priorities list: Acworth Christian Church. Reevaluated each year, the list identifies Cobb County historic sites facing real threats like demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, or development.
Acworth Christian Church was founded in 1858. The original structure was located on Mitchell Hill near downtown Acworth. The present building was erected in 1875 to replace the original structure that was destroyed during the Civil War. Modifications made to the building have significantly altered its appearance, and a lack of maintenance over the years has led to deterioration of the structural integrity of the building.
Cobb Landmarks will partner with the Save Acworth History Foundation to find ways to stabilize the structure and find a long-term solution for its future.
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.”
Last year Cobb Landmarks met with Marietta City Schools to discuss the uncertain future of the c. 1950 Lemon Street Grammar School. Cobb Landmarks expressed the importance of maintaining the historic structure. “The question was whether we could afford to save the building while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Grant Rivera, Superintendent of Marietta City Schools. “We are pleased to say that, after careful study, we will be able to do both.”
Parrish Construction Group successfully performed the demolition portion of the Lemon Street Project during December 2019. On June 16th the school board approved a renovation budget, allowing the renovation to begin. Plans call for replacing all doors and windows and installing new plumbing and electrical systems, fire sprinklers and alarm systems, security systems and the technology required for the school system to operate the building. Crews will also install new asphalt, sidewalk, fencing and landscaping. The building is expected to open to students by the end of 2020.
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.
We are committed to empowering our community with an understanding of the events, people, and places that formed our past, so that we may all strive for a brighter future. Won't you join us?