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.
When Cobb Landmarks learned that BAMM Real Estate was going to demolish the house and redevelop the site, the historical society’s Executive Director, Trevor Beemon, requested the opportunity to document the structure so that a photographic and written record of the building, its history, and its architectural features could be made.
While surveying the structure, members of the Cobb Landmarks Preservation Committee noted that some elements of the house were in good condition and worth saving and that some of these materials might be used in the construction of the new interpretive center being developed at the William Root House campus in downtown Marietta. They requested access to these items for preservation and re-use in the Root House project. BAMM agreed and gave Cobb Landmarks permission to identify and remove elements of historic importance from the Fowler House. "We were thrilled to work with Cobb Landmarks to preserve parts of the Fowler house,” said Michael Sunshine, Managing Partner of BAMM. “Preserving the history of Marietta is extremely important to us and as we begin development of multiple properties in Marietta, we look forward to our continued partnership with Cobb Landmarks and other local businesses."
Cobb Landmarks partnered with Marietta Reclamation to salvage the materials. Items saved from the house, including doors, windows, shutters, lighting fixtures, and hardware, will be incorporated into Cobb Landmarks’ new interpretive center and headquarters. Cobb Landmarks is pleased to be able to give pieces of the historic Fowler House a second life.
Watch news coverage from CBS46 News.
Cobb Landmarks held its Annual Membership Meeting on January 24th. The event took place at St. James’ Episcopal Church and drew a large crowd. Attendees enjoyed a buffet of delicious food provided by the Cobb Landmarks Board of Trustees and countless volunteers. During the meeting, Board Chair Abbie Parks and Executive Director Trevor Beemon reviewed milestones from 2018, highlighting the relocation of the c. 1830 Manning Cabin from Powder Springs to Cobb Landmarks’ Root House Museum campus in downtown Marietta last September. David Freedman led the awards portion of the program, which celebrated preservation projects throughout Cobb County. Among the award winners was the City of Marietta's Elizabeth Porter Park, the Elizabeth Porter History and Mural Committee accepting.
Construction for Elizabeth Porter Park began in August 2017 and was completed in 2018. Located at the intersection of Allgood Road and North Marietta Parkway, it features a walk/run track, spray pad, and pavilion. A great recreational amenity, the park was also designed to ensure the preservation of local history through the use of public art. Most prominently, a symbolically rich 130-foot mural depicts activities relevant to the site and surrounding neighborhood over time. Secondly, a statue of Elizabeth Porter, the park's namesake and former recreation center director, was incorporated into the park entrance. The statue design shows Mrs. Porter beside two children representing those she worked with during her 22 years as director.
Before and after view of Carrie Dyer House in Acworth
The Carrie Dyer Reading Club was established in Acworth in 1898. In 1910, the group purchased a c. 1850 house in downtown Acworth for use as a clubhouse. The house was used to host lectures, special events, and dances, and also served as a meeting place for local organizations such as the Girl Scouts of the USA. The Carrie Dyer Reading Club also operated a library in the home which merged with the Cobb County-Marietta Public Library System in 1963 after a new public library was built nearby. The home then returned to residential use.
The following years were not kind to the home. After decades of neglect, the home was purchased by a developer, and plans were drawn up in 2017 to replace the home with a modern structure. Cobb Landmarks immediately contacted the City of Acworth. Cobb Landmarks felt that retaining the original front rooms and facade of the structure was extremely important. The depth of the lot would allow for a substantial modern addition while the front facade and main front rooms could be retained. Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood heard our concerns and decided to take off his mayor hat and put on his builder hat, purchasing the home and remodeling and enlarging it for a modern buyer.
The preservation decision was easy because of the wonderful impact the Carrie Dyer House has had on the generations of citizens that have lived in our city. Today the Carrie Dyer House is a wonderful example of how to preserve our history by blending old with new... ."
MARIETTA, GA, October 11, 2018 - Marietta's c. 1845 Martin Slaughter House was recently at risk of being demolished. After a rewarding discussion with the developer, Traton Homes, plans were revised so that the house can remain as part of the new residential community. Furthermore, Traton now plans to rehabilitate the house as a private residence. Cobb Landmarks will provide recommendations for preserving historically significant aspects of the house.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Slaughter House is one of only a few remaining homes in Marietta dating back to the 1840s. "The importance of saving and preserving this home cannot be understated," said Cobb Landmarks Executive Director, Trevor Beemon. "Cobb Landmarks looks forward to working with Traton Homes on this project."
ABOUT COBB LANDMARKS: For over forty years, Cobb Landmarks has served as a catalyst for community preservation action, working with policy makers, developers, and others, to preserve local history. When historic buildings are torn down or allowed to deteriorate, a part of the past disappears forever. When that happens, people lose opportunities to live and work in the kinds of interesting surroundings that older buildings can provide. By protecting and enhancing the buildings, communities, and landscapes that tell America's story, preservation allows individuals to have physical contact with the places where the region's identity was established and community's character was shaped. One such building is Marietta's c. 1845 Dr. Martin Slaughter House.
ABOUT TRATON HOMES: Family-owned Traton Homes is headquartered in Marietta, Georgia. Founded in 1971 by brothers Bill and Milburn Poston, Traton Homes is one of metro Atlanta's oldest home building companies. Traton is also one of the most innovative, combining traditional building practices with a passion for the latest systems and styles. From full-featured townhomes to single-family estate homes, Traton builds outstanding quality and value into every home.
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.
The following speech was written by Marietta resident Douglas M. Frey and was delivered to the Marietta City Council on September 13, 2017:
My name is Douglas Frey and I live on Trammell Street, which is within walking distance of here. I’m in Councilman Johnny Walker’s ward. I moved here with my wife from East Cobb almost twenty years ago because of a house, an historic one, and it’s that house that keeps us here. That and Marietta Square and Kennesaw Mountain and the historic houses on Church and Cherokee Streets, and those on Kennesaw and Whitlock Avenues.
But it’s more than just pretty houses. It’s the people who built and lived in them, and their stories that intrigue us. It was this curiosity that led me to write a book on Marietta’s architectural history – The Gem City of Georgia.
I think you’d agree that it is our history that makes us unique. People want to move to Marietta to be surrounded by our lovely historic homes, even if they don’t live in one themselves. Where else can you eat Sushi in an antebellum warehouse? Panini sandwiches in a former bank? Or croissants from one of the first drugstores in the city?
We’re surrounded by history and this is what gives us comfort and creates the incredible sense of community that we can never take for granted. Take away any of those things I just mentioned and the reason for us to stay diminishes.
That is why I appreciate this occasion to speak with you about an opportunity that could be as everlasting and bountiful as the acquisition of Glover Park has been to our city. I’m asking you to carefully and sincerely consider saving the historic home known as Oakton through its purchase.
Oakton is older than the William Root House, the Kennesaw House, the Archibald Howell House, Tranquilla, or Brumby Hall. It was built not long after the founding of our city, so its history begins with the removal of the Cherokee Indians, and spans “The War Between the States,” where it was occupied by Confederate and Union soldiers. When Marietta began to recover from the war, Oakton attracted coastal elites, who remodeled the home into its current style and used it as a summer retreat for many decades. And Oakton has been lived in and lovingly cared for by the same family for nearly 80 years. It is Marietta’s oldest home and twenty years from today, will celebrate its 200th birthday.
Two hundred years is a big deal. Oakton is arguably the city’s most historic house and we are in peril of losing it. And if that sad prospect were not enough, the home sits on a treasure trove of ancient oak trees and a boxwood garden that was planted in the 1870s, a garden still flourishing and one that was so admired it was one of only three Marietta gardens featured in the 1933 book, “Garden History of Georgia.” Of the 160 Georgia gardens featured in the book, Oakton is one of only a handful that survives. Those irreplaceable gardens would likely be lost, as well.
Now, I have to tell you that I am uncomfortable being here. I normally don’t believe governments should be involved in projects that could be served by the private sector. But we see time and time again that sometimes, our government has to play an active role in things that we are reluctant to get involved in, but we know would not get done were it not to lead the charge.
We see city action in the removing of urban blight on Franklin Gateway and are seeing its revival as we speak. And we see our city preserving our heritage through the declaration of local historic districts and the county actively identifying land to preserve for parks and greenspace.
So, as hesitant as I am standing before you, I know in my heart that you believe as I do, that that there are some things that must be fought for so as not to be discarded and forgotten. Marietta continues to grow in population and prosperity. It’s all around us, from the constant expansion of Kennestone Hospital to never-ending improvements on the Square. And one of the major factors responsible for that growth is the historic nature of the city, mainly manifested in its old neighborhoods and houses. Lose one and others are sure to follow.
As you perform your due diligence, I want to remind you that the city has successfully cared for Brumby Hall and our first public library, the Sarah Freeman Clarke Library on Church Street. And in our midst is the old Federal Post Office building that now serves our community as a vibrant art museum.
These examples may cost the taxpayers money but the value they add to the city cannot be measured. Or can it? In 2013, Cobb County tourism supported 16,210 jobs, generated $1.4 billion in direct tourism spending, and over $30 million in local tax revenue.
We may also look to our sister city of Smyrna and its purchase of the Taylor–Brawner House. That purchase has made such a positive impact on the city that Smyrna officials are currently restoring another historic property nearby for its citizens, the picturesque Reed House on Atlanta Road. In Kennesaw, we see the success of Smith-Gilbert Gardens with a historic home that dates to the 1880s. But perhaps the best example of city stewardship of antebellum properties is found in Roswell, which has received national recognition for its efforts and made Roswell a magnet for tourism. Maybe it’s time to begin a new chapter in the history of Oakton and expand its place in our collective memory.
I only ask that as you entertain this idea, please imagine the pleasure you’ve had throughout the years driving by Oakton and glancing up through the maze of oaks to the beautiful house on the hill, nestled at the base of Kennesaw Mountain. And, now, think of it gone and ten to twenty houses in its place.
That is the reality that confronts us. A vital component of the legacy of The Gem City of Georgia is in your hands. Please help our community save Oakton.
Photo by Jim DiVitale
Oakton, a 5.5-acre estate that includes Marietta’s oldest surviving house, is at risk of being lost to demolition and redevelopment. The Kennesaw Avenue property has been for sale for over 2 years, and the owners have not yet found a buyer who plans to preserve the historic property. 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. The home has spent most of its 179-year history in the stewardship of the Wilder and Goodman families.
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. But Oakton has no protection from demolition or redevelopment because it is not located in a local historic district.
Preservation of any city’s most historic buildings is an investment in both the past and the future, protecting real places that represent a community’s history so that they may be shared by future generations. Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, Inc. (Cobb Landmarks) has been preserving, protecting, and promoting the William Root House Museum & Garden for over 20 years, and the City’s other museums also do a fine job sharing Marietta’s rich history. Oakton’s distinguished history and faithful preservation up to the present moment make it a local landmark worth saving.
The time to save Oakton as a valuable link between Marietta’s past and future is now, before a contract with a real estate developer puts the house in irreversible jeopardy. Cobb Landmarks encourages the City of Marietta to acquire the Oakton estate as a local historic landmark, joining Brumby Hall & Gardens, the Sarah Freeman Clarke Library, and the City Water Works buildings under City ownership and care. The estate could be used as a community center, house museum and garden, or some other type of public facility. While there is time to determine its long-term public use, the future of Oakton needs to be secured now, before it is too late. Cobb Landmarks calls on the City of Marietta to take this important step.