Roswell, GA – Fulton County – Situated along the Chattahoochee River, Roswell has antebellum mansions and ties to 3 U.S. Presidents. We’ll look at several mansions and learn more of the history here. Now one of the largest cities in Georgia (population over 90,000), Roswell was part of Cobb County until 1932 when annexed by Fulton County.
Roswell King visited the area in the 1830s, and saw the potential for a textile mill here. Along with several other Coastal Georgia families (the Bullochs, Pratts, Dunwodys, Lewises and Smiths), they established a thriving community. The town was named in his honor when incorporated in 1854.
Roswell Has 3 Historic House Museums
Barrington Hall, is situated on the highest point in town. Built between 1839-1842 for Barrington King (Roswell King’s son). Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this home stayed in the family until 1995. This is open as a House Museum, and there are several outbuildings on the property.
Walking around the grounds, you get a sense of the history here. The brick ice house contains 3 rooms for 3 separate purposes – as a dairy, a room where ice is stored, and the summer bath house.
Primrose Cottage, circa 1839, is said to be the first residence in Roswell. It was build for Mrs. Eliza King Hand, daughter of Barrington King.
Bulloch Hall, built for the family of Major James Stephens Bulloch has ties to 2 U.S. Presidents. The family has a long history in Georgia- his grandfather, Archibald Bulloch, served as the first Governor of Georgia after the Revolutionary War!
During December 1853, daughter “Mittie” Bulloch married Theodore Roosevelt (they lived in NY and their son, Theodore Jr, was the 26th U.S. President) . This was a huge social event at the time. Even today, we can experience this – there is a reenactment of the wedding every year close to Christmas.President Theodore Roosevelt visited his mother’s childhood home in 1905.
Mittie & Theodore had another son, Elliot – father of Eleanor Roosevelt. She and FDR visited Roswell often on their way to Warm Springs, Georgia. I have a post and tour of FDR’s Little White House in Warm Springs.
Roswell was part of Cobb County until 1932
Mimosa Hall is the second home on this site, and was originally a 32 acre property. A wooden home built 1840-1842 for John & Jane Dunwody (later spelled as Dunwoody), burned right before the Housewarming Party. We see the second home, built 1847 of brick and named Phoenix Hall, since it rose from the ashes.
When the Hansell family purchased it in 1869, they renamed it Mimosa Hall after noticing all the mimosa trees on the property. Now hang tight, the Hansell family will sell this home, and buy it back later….
Famed Atlanta architect Neel Reid bought Mimosa Hall in 1916, and renewed the landscaping, as well as interior renovations to the house. The front door to this southern home was salvaged from a mansion on NYC’s Fifth Avenue. Interestingly, the Hansell family repurchased the home in 1947. It stayed in the family until being recently purchased by the City of Roswell.
The Dolvin House is also known as the Roswell White House. This was home to Jimmy Carter’s “Aunt Sissy” – Emily Frances Gordy Dolvin. Remember Lillian Carter? They were sisters. Aunt Sissy became an early and fervent supporter of Carter’s political career. An educator, historic preservationist, campaigner, etc – quite the amazing life she led. The home is one of the few late Victorian homes in Roswell.
Roswell has ties to 3 U.S. Presidents
Roswell Presbyterian is the oldest church in town. Interestingly, it was used as a hospital during the Civil War – and all the furnishings were removed…and everything except the pipe organ was returned. Fannie Whitmire, a mill worker, hid the silver communion service in a barrel until after the War.
Holly Hill, built in the 1840s, is hidden by landscaping so I wanted to share this old photo of the home. The home was built as a summer home for Savannah residents Robert Adams Lewis and his wife Catherine Barrington, niece of the town founder. The Roswell Historical Society has a sign out front that also notes this was later the home of author Evelyn Hanna. Her 1938 novel “Blackberry Winter” is said to rival “Gone With The Wind”. She was one of the founders of the Roswell Public Library in 1956.
Last house today is The Brannon House. The first owner of the home, Y.B. Stribley, became the first president of the Roswell Bank and he owned Roswell Manufacturing Company. Two of his sons-in-law later held those positions. The house was sold in 1942 to the Brannon’s, who owned Roswell’s first movie theater.
There’s much more history in Roswell, and many more homes to see. Next trip, will report on the 3rd House Museum. If you want to visit the house museums, check out the website Southern Trilogy: Roswell’s Historic House Museums. Another great resource is Roswell Historical Society.
Thanks so much for reading the blog – it turns 3 years old next week! So excited to have you read these tours, really appreciate it! Going forward I am going to publish this on Wednesdays, around the middle of the day.
Wishing you an early Happy New Year!