About two years ago, the city of Powder Springs took an important step toward preserving the area’s heritage. Not only did the city purchase the historic Bodiford House on Marietta Street for $175,000 from Superior Court Judge James Bodiford, but it also relocated the Seven Springs Museum, now known as Seven Springs Museum at Bodiford House, there. After a restoration project totaling almost $600,000, the entire house exhibits artifacts and photographs chronicling the area’s history and even has a room designated as a research library.
The museum is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays to visitors and researchers. Volunteers from the Seven Springs Historical Society operate the museum. The Bodiford House is a two-story Queen Anne style house with its layout and stylistic application reflecting the Queen Anne designs of the late 19th century. Features include two cross gables, a corner tower, and a wraparound porch. It was built by the Marchman family and later acquired by John L. Butner, who added a second story and additional rooms in 1900. Robert Bodiford, father of Cobb Superior Court Judge Jim Bodiford, purchased the house in 1954. After the city bought the property, an extensive rehabilitation was completed in time for the museum’s opening in October last year.
It seems as though the Big Chicken has been around forever. Standing like a beacon on the corner of Cobb Parkway and Roswell Road, the Big Chicken has helped many a weary traveler navigate through Cobb County. When you’re lost in Atlanta, locals may direct you to Peachtree Street (there are over 70 streets in Atlanta with “Peachtree” in their name). When you’re lost in Cobb, making a turn at the Big Chicken will always get you where you need to go. But how did the Big Chicken come to be? Who was responsible for creating this googley-eyed monument to chicken?
The story begins with an Atlanta restaurateur named Stanley Reginald Davis. Known by his friends and family as “Tubby,” he began his career in 1939 when he opened Davis Brothers Cafeteria in a vacant typewriter shop on Luckie Street. Tubby prided himself on providing quality food at competitive prices. His business quickly grew, and Tubby eventually launched several other successful restaurants, including one inside Atlanta’s Piedmont Hotel.
In 1956, Tubby came to Marietta and opened a restaurant called Johnny Reb’s Chick, Chuck and Shake. Wanting to capitalize on the north/south traffic on Highway 41, Tubby decided he needed to erect something to attract travelers. He hired Hubert Puckett, a Georgia Tech architecture student, to design a novelty chicken structure over his restaurant. Fabricated by Atlantic Steel, the 56-foot-high chicken was completed in 1963. “I wanted to build it as high as I could to attract customers,” said Tubby. “I had no idea it would become a landmark.”
Tubby continued to operate Johnny Reb’s until he sold the business to one of his brothers. The restaurant was taken over by Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in 1974. At the time, KFC executives (including Colonel Sanders himself) planned to remove the Big Chicken to make the restaurant match their own branding. Persuaded by the Davis family, KFC executives finally decided to keep it. The Big Chicken was safe, and everyone thought it would be preserved forever. But mother nature had other plans.
In January 1993, a winter storm blew into Cobb County. The gusts battered the old chicken, and entire sheets of metal were ripped from the structure. When the storm subsided, the chicken stood with gaping holes in her side. Within days engineers were on site to assess the damage. What they found was less than encouraging. The Big Chicken was badly damaged and needed to be completed rebuilt or torn down. KFC had a decision to make: tear down the Big Chicken or spend the $100,000 estimated to rebuild the structure. The answer came down to money, and demolition of the Big Chicken was announced on January 15th. The decision did not go over very well with the people of Marietta.
After receiving almost 10,000 phone calls and letters from concerned Mariettans, KFC determined that tearing down the structure was not really an option. On January 27, 1993, KFC Vice President Chuck Rawley announced that the company would “invest up to $200,000 in a new landmark so that the Big Chicken can fly again.” Work quickly began on a new structure, and the restaurant reopened in 1994.
Renovated in the spring of 2017, the Big Chicken is one of Marietta’s most popular attractions. The new restaurant features a gift shop and mini museum displaying the history of the Big Chicken and a collection of souvenirs and artwork inspired by the landmark.
Continuing long-standing efforts to preserve the historic Wallis House, Georgia lawmakers have again introduced federal legislation that would annex the house and its neighboring eight acres into Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
U. S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk introduced HR-3371 into the House of Representatives on July 29. The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Earl Carter and Lynn Westmoreland. Sen. Johnny Isakson introduced S-1930 in the Senate on August 11, with Sen. David Perdue as a co-sponsor. These bills renew the efforts of Sen. Isakson and former Rep. Phil Gingrey to obtain Congressional authorization to add the land to the park. The property is owned by Cobb County, which has agreed to transfer it to the National Park Service at no acquisition cost if the legislation is passed and signed. Restoration costs, early estimates of which are $800,000, will be the principal costs associated with the project. It is possible that private funding will be sought for some of these costs.
The Wallis House, built c. 1853 by Josiah Wallis, has been a Preservation Priority for CLHS for several years. CLHS Chair Abbie Parks wrote to House and Senate Committee members in 2014 urging them to support earlier versions of the legislation, but the bills did not get passed by the full chambers in the last Congress. Executive Director Trevor Beemon wrote to the legislators earlier in 2015 encouraging them to reintroduce the bills.
The bills have been read and referred to their respective committees, which must pass them for the bills to reach the floor for full chamber votes. Bills to save individual landmarks are routinely passed in each session of Congress, and here’s hoping that the current session will be the one where the hopes and plans for the Wallis House are realized.
Written by Chris Brown
The Marietta Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is continuing its efforts to designate a Forest Hills local historic district, and it has recently received City Council approval to begin the study process for a Church-Cherokee-Freyer-Seminole district.
Each project requires extensive research about the neighborhoods, drafting and approval of design guidelines, several public hearings and City Council approvals, and a neighborhood property owner vote. A 60% affirmative vote is required to designate a district.
The Forest Hills study area principally includes Forest and North Forest Avenues and Vance Circle, and it also includes the historic Cole house that faces the 120 Loop. The study area currently includes about 50 houses, and the next step for the HPC is to delineate the boundaries of the area that will be included in the property owner vote.
The Church-Cherokee study area is larger, beginning with about 120 houses. On August 12 the City Council approved the HPC’s request to begin the project, following homeowner requests that were in part related to potential development of the Ivy Grove estate on Cherokee Street. The fact that, under present rules, the Ivy Grove mansion could be demolished without any reviews or approvals was an eye-opener for many neighbors.
A local historic district would require HPC and City Council approval before demolition of a historic house, and it would also require HPC review of architectural plans before new construction could begin.
HPC Chair David Freedman estimates the process will take at least six to eight months to complete. Educating homeowners about the protections afforded by a local historic district is scheduled to begin in early September. The homeowner vote, which will be run by the City staff, will likely be held early next year.
If approved by homeowners and the City Council, these historic districts would join the Kennesaw Avenue district in protecting the integrity of Marietta’s historic neighborhoods.
Written by Chris Brown
For those interested in pursuing the preservation of historic resources in their community, the first step is to have a good understanding of what buildings, sites, or structures are potentially historic. The best platform for gaining that understanding is a Historic Resources Survey. Historic Resources Surveys are a way to gather basic information about potential historic properties within a jurisdiction, whether city or county.
Historic Resources Surveys usually include an architectural description of the building or structure and photographs. Field work is involved in order to gather notes on the location, age and setting of the resource. A final survey report is usually produced to summarize the findings and give an overview of the community and the process. The Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has recommendations of how to produce a survey and how the survey can be used. Survey results are entered into a state-wide database called GNAHRGIS (Georgia’s Natural, Archaeological, and Historic Resources Geographic Information System). GNAHRGIS can be searched online.
Historic Resources Surveys are extremely useful tools for a variety of purposes. The survey supports historic preservation ordinances and the efforts of a historic preservation commission. It does this by highlighting resources that are worthy of preservation and those that could be eligible for local designation and the Georgia/National Register of Historic Places. It is an excellent tool for use in planning purposes, including reviewing zoning and variance applications, as well as site plans, to determine their impact on historic resources. The survey can be a source for researching historic buildings and for educating the public about historic places.
One of the first efforts towards a historic resource inventory in Cobb County was the Bicentennial Project sponsored by Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society. The project director was Dr. Phil Secrist, and it covered properties in Marietta and Cobb County. The survey, conducted from 1974 to 1975, produced an inventory of over 220 historic structures, ruins, and sites.
The next major survey for those areas outside city limits was Architecture, Archaeology, and Landscapes: Resources for Historic Preservation in Unincorporated Cobb County, Georgia by Darlene Roth, which was completed in 1988. Cobb County’s most recent Historic Resources Survey for unincorporated areas was completed in 2007. While the Roth book remains an excellent resource for developmental history and context for Cobb County, many changes had happened in the county over the following twenty years. The current survey can be viewed on the Cobb County website and can be searched on the GNAHRGIS online database. The survey demonstrates the wide variety of historic resources that are present in the unincorporated sections of Cobb County. Over 850 historic resources were surveyed during the 2007 update, with nearly 87% of them being used as residential. Historic outbuildings were included, as well as a sampling of the county’s ranch houses built beginning in the 1950s.
Cobb County has some additional Historic Resources Surveys for specific areas. These were usually done as part of an environmental review process for proposed infrastructure projects. These specific area surveys are conducted to determine if the proposed project would have any impact on historic resources within the project area.
Earlier this year, Cobb County worked towards creating a list of county-owned properties that have potential historic resources on them. This resource list was conducted as a result of a resolution passed by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners last fall. Staff reviewed information on all county-owned parcels to see if there was the potential for a historic building, structure, or even Civil War earthworks on the property. The final list was provided to relevant county departments for their reference. If changes are proposed to one of these properties, then the Cobb County Historic Preservation Commission is to be given an opportunity to comment.
Acworth, Kennesaw, and Marietta also have historic preservation ordinances and historic preservation commissions. They have Historic Resources Surveys in order to understand what historic resources are present in their communities. Marietta completed a Historic Resources Survey between 1993 and 1994. Additional surveys have been done in areas that are being considered for local designation by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. Kennesaw has a historic resources book which identifies all registered historic structures. Survey information for these municipalities can be viewed on the GNAHRGIS database.
The Smyrna Historical & Genealogical Society (SH&GS) has, for many years, encouraged the City of Smyrna to adopt a historic preservation ordinance. The historical society brought in a staff member from Georgia’s Historic Preservation Division to make a presentation on historic preservation ordinances to members of the city council. The city council had questions about what was considered historic in Smyrna. So, the historical society hired an intern to complete a Historic Resources Survey for those properties within Smyrna.
Jennifer Dixon, Preservation Chair for Smyrna Historical & Genealogical Society (and Preservation Chair for CLHS), provided oversight and guidance to Jessica McCarron, the intern hired for the project. Jessica, a Masters of Heritage Preservation student at Georgia State University, surveyed historic properties within the city limits of Smyrna. Jennifer had the following to say about the project:
Jessica was able to survey virtually all historic resources up through the 1940s. This cutoff date was selected due to the fundamental shift in development from pre-war individual housing to post-war neighborhood and suburban development. The amazing results of this survey can be found on the SH&GS website.
The historical society is planning to return to the Smyrna City Council to present the results of the survey and hopefully to further discussions on a historic preservation ordinance and commission. The survey is a crucial step in moving forward with preservation efforts in Smyrna.
Historic Resources Surveys are a vital step in understanding the history of a local community. They provide the necessary information on working towards elevating the preservation of a community’s historic places. The best preservation occurs at the local level, and understanding what is worthy of preservation is critical to making that happen.
Written by Mandy Elliott, Cobb County Preservation Planner
Located in East Cobb off Roswell Road, Hyde Farm has been a CLHS Preservation Priority since 2011. It was farmed using 19th-century techniques until the death of the last living Hyde brother, JC, in 2004, and it is truly a last vestige of a bygone way of life in Cobb County. It was saved from development by the concerted efforts of many people: JC and his brother, Buck, who specified in their wills that the property would be preserved; the Friends of Hyde Farm, who raised money to assist The Trust for Public Land in buying and paying the taxes on the land; TPL, interim steward of the property; Cobb County and the National Park Service (NPS), current owners and stewards; and Cobb Landmarks, which has been the custodian of a fund for the rehabilitation of the buildings at Hyde Farm. Since the signing of an agreement between Cobb County and NPS, work has been underway to repair and restore the dilapidated buildings, and real changes can be seen.
Mandy Elliott, Preservation Planner for Cobb County, gave the following summary of the current state of the work at Hyde Farm:
"The rehabilitation work on the Hyde Farm house and outbuildings is well underway. All of the outbuildings, including the barn, are complete. The barn rehabilitation included installing new sills [the bottoms of the walls] and rebuilding the two wings, using as much of the original fabric as possible. The work on the house is in process and involves replacement of some sills, injecting liquid epoxy into termite-affected logs, and installing new structural footings. The wheelchair lift will be installed on the rear entrance to the house to accommodate ADA requirements. The wheelchair ramp which the Hydes had installed will be returned to that entrance.
An archaeologist has been retained for the site and has completed a survey of the area behind the house, where a detached kitchen once stood. Unfortunately, the installation of a septic tank removed all remnants of that kitchen.
Cobb Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs staff will next be working with the landscape and fields in order to prepare for planting next year."
Curt Soper, Georgia/Alabama State Director for TPL, states, “The Trust for Public Land is delighted with the work that is underway to restore the barn and other structures at Hyde Farm. The work that Cobb Landmarks and the County are doing now is exactly what was envisioned when we were all working so hard to acquire the property.” Bill Cox with the National Park Service, Superintendent of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, added “I think Hyde Farm is a great example of an effective partnership between Cobb County and the National Park Service that furthers our mutual goal of protecting and enjoying the historic resources we all value.”
All at Cobb Landmarks are excited and encouraged at the progress and look forward to the day when Hyde Farm will be available to the public on a regular basis. Meanwhile, a special event is planned for the fall to take place at Hyde Farm and CLHS’s Power Cabin property. Details will be announced soon.
This community schoolhouse was constructed in 1873 on property owned by Mars Hill Presbyterian Church. The schoolhouse was deeded to the Cobb County Board of Education in 1902 and served as a school until 1938. Today, the schoolhouse is used by the Mars Hill Memorial Association. The Association is responsible for maintaining the nearby Mars Hill Cemetery, which was established in 1837.
Want to visit this historic site? Click here for directions.
This year, the National Park Service announced that Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society’s house museum, the William and Hannah Root House, had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register provides formal recognition of a place deemed to be of architectural, historical, and/or structural significance. The news of this honor was received with much rejoicing throughout Cobb Landmarks, as it confirmed our long-held view of the importance of this historic structure. The National Register status is the culmination of a process begun in 1991 representing thousands of hours of hands-on restoration work and advocacy.
The Root House, believed to be the oldest frame house in Marietta, was built in 1845 by druggist William Root across from St. James’ Episcopal Church at what is now the corner of Church and Lemon Streets. The house was moved in 1893, around the corner facing Lemon Street, and then again in 1989, when it was donated to Cobb Landmarks and relocated to its present site at Polk Street and the Marietta Loop, to save it from demolition.
Since its acquisition by CLHS, the Root House has truly become the flagship property of Cobb Landmarks, providing the only example of a middle-class town house in Marietta before the Civil War. Thousands of visitors every year, many of them school children, are able to have a glimpse into the lives of a typical middle-class family in our town. For many, it is eye-opening to realize that most people did not live at Tara during the antebellum period. The costumed docents at the Root House provide a picture of a way of life that was much more typical of the time than is provided by much of the romantic fiction depicting life in the mid-19th century South.
During this year of commemorating the Civil War and its impact on Cobb County, a visit to the Root House to see the Civil War years interpretation of the life of the Root family should be a goal of every citizen of Cobb County who is interested in our history and heritage.
Kudos and thanks go to those far-sighted people at Cobb Landmarks who saw the importance of saving this piece of our history for future generations, and thanks to the National Trust for this great honor.