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.
The William Root House Museum & Gardens reopened on May 27th. Currently, guests begin their visit by checking in at the Visitor Center located inside the Manning Family Cabin. Credit card payment is encouraged as a touchless payment option. Upon checking in, each guest is given a stylus pen. The stylus pen is used to operate the interactive touchscreens located throughout the museum. Guests are free to explore the museum campus at their own leisure, however, they must follow posted signs and practice social distancing, especially when entering and exiting exhibit spaces. No more than ten guests are permitted in the museum at one time, and all stylus pens must be returned to the Visitor Center for sanitizing at the end their visit. The health and safety of our staff and guests is very important to us, and we hope the steps we have taken will help museum guests feel comfortable during their visit.
Visit RootHouseMuseum.com/Visit to learn more about what to expect during your visit to the museum.
#GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving in support of nonprofit organizations impacted by COVID-19.
Dear CLHS Friends,
As a public health precaution in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, Cobb Landmarks has made the difficult decision to close the William Root House Museum temporarily, until further notice. Closing the museum and the gift shop and cancelling scheduled group tours and events mean a loss of critically important revenue. As a private nonprofit, every dollar counts and every lost dollar hurts.
When these challenging times are behind us, our desire is to make the William Root House campus a vibrant and active part of the community once again. We are looking forward to introducing new initiatives at the museum, including special family days, homeschool days, and toddler programs, all designed to inspire and engage the next generation of history-lovers.
Your support will help us overcome the economic challenges brought on by the recent pandemic - challenges that might otherwise prevent these exciting new programs from coming to fruition. May we look to you, our community, for a special contribution to Cobb Landmarks to help us weather this difficult time?
Thank you for your support!
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, Inc.
William Root House Museum & Garden
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.
MARIETTA, GA, September 25, 2019 - During the 1850s, Hannah and William Root shared their home with their children and extended family. Hannah Root's father, Leonard Simpson, lived with the family and died on October 11, 1856. During the month of October, visitors to the William Root House Museum will see the home decorated for Leonard Simpson's funeral. Curtains will be drawn, and rooms will be adorned with black crepe and ribbons. Visitors will be able to view 19th century embalming equipment, mourning jewelry (made from human hair), and other curious artifacts related to death and mourning in the Victorian era.
WHAT: Death and Mourning in the 1850s
WHEN: October 2-31, 2019
WHERE: William Root House Museum & Garden; 80 N Marietta Parkway NW, Marietta, GA 30060
TICKETS: Included in the cost of regular museum admission. The museum will also be open for night tours on Saturdays throughout October. Details: roothousemuseum.com/mourning
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.