May Patterson Goodrum House – Part 1


Atlanta, GA – West Paces Ferry Road near the Governor’s Mansion – This post is longer than most, and I’ve had to break it into a couple of parts.  This stretch of Buckhead was called the Fifth Avenue of Atlanta in the first part of the 20th Century, and I recently had a chance to tour this one with the Atlanta Preservation Center.  This is the May Patterson Goodrum House, built in 1932.  Some of us know it as the Peacock House – yes, there were once peacocks here who got out and blocked the road from time to time.

I always love to learn about the people who lived in these grand homes back in yesteryear, and May Patterson Goodrum Abreu is one of those people who has a fascinating story.  In my research, I learned that she was the first recipient of the “Atlanta Woman of the Year” award in 1943 for her war efforts (remember, World War 2 was going on then).  She was a major supporter of the Humane Society, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and helped with the founding of a school in Rabun.

Photo from Abreu Foundation


She was not born into money, she worked at a store when she got married in 1926.  Sadly, her first husband passed away a couple of years later.  She married Francis Abreu in 1938 – but before that, she had this house built!

The architect, Philip Trammell Shutze, is one of the top classicist architects of the last century.  He designed many landmark homes in his long career.  I’m going to have a post on some more of his houses.

The house is currently undergoing major renovation by the Watson-Brown Foundation.  We were lucky enough to have Tad Brown as our tour leader – and he’s an expert on this house!


When you walk in the foyer of this house there’s a big living room off to the left.  While we were there, part of it was sealed off and as you can see, there’s a lot of work going on.


See that woodwork below?  Those are different southern flowers on there – magnolias, dogwoods, etc.

WP_20150311_026Here’s a pic of the living room when the house was for sale a few years ago.


Looking at the staircase, I couldn’t figure out the railing.  Was that art deco?  Was it Chinese?  Was it added later to the house?  What is up with that?  Turns out that’s part of the English Regency style – it plays on some Asian elements.  I guess it’s what they also call a “pop of color” on HGTV.




So remember how I said English Regency had some Asian elements in it?  Well going in the dining room, I was speechless (OK, for like 2 seconds, a long time for ME) at the Chinese mural in here.  It was painted by Allyn Cox – who also happened to be the same person who did mural in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC!





Here is a look at the room when was furnished – can’t you see the cast of Downton Abbey having a meal in here?  He actually painted these elsewhere and had them shipped and installed in the house.  See that door to the right of the fireplace?  Is that a secret door to somewhere?  Nah.

Historic Buildings, May Patterson Goodrum House_dining_room


I of course couldn’t stand it and had to see what was behind that door!  I realized quickly that it was the butler’s pantry and kitchen – all restored to the original 1930s look.

Checking out the kitchen, they have gone to great lengths to make it look period appropriate.


See this range?  This here is a 1926 Hotpoint.


I had to take a closer look at it – and when I was looking at the oven controls, I discovered it has “slow”, “medium”, “hot” etc listed on it.  Ah ha!  That’s what they have in those old cookbooks, “cook in a slow oven for XX minutes”…


And of course a vintage refrigerator in the kitchen.



Lots more to see around here, so will have a second post.  Thanks for coming along on this tour!

Rhodes Hall – A Haunted Castle on Peachtree?!?


Atlanta, GA – Sitting on a high point on Peachtree, this castle (a mere 9,000 SF) was built in 1904 for Amos Rhodes – a furniture store magnate, you may recall Rhodes Furniture or Rhodes-Haverty – well, he was king of this castle.  Total cost $50,000.  That’s in 1904 dollars, so today it’s $1.45 million.  I thought that sounded low, but inside you find that Mr. Rhodes went to lengths to cut costs in parts of the house.  And yep, this is built out of Stone Mountain granite.  It’s been a private home, the state archives, and a non-profit headquarters – and a haunted house too!

Amos Rhodes


The historical marker outside has some good info:



They call this Romanesque Revival architecture, inspired by medieval castles on the Rhine, with a big dose of Victorian decor inside.  Now the home of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, tours are offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays.


The house had state of the art features for 1904 – including over 300 lightbulbs (both gas & electric, more on that in a sec), electric call buttons, and a security system.  The entrance hall is large, and the wall fixtures have 3 lights in them – 2 are electric, and 1 is gas.  Remember electricity was still fairly new, so gas was a known quantity for lighting.  Seeing 1 bulb out of 3 unlit set my OCD off, I was ready to go change the lightbulbs!  I learned this was the gas part of the gas/electric lighting fixture.


Detail of the painted glass on staircase


So this was the Ga State Archives for quite some time.  When they moved out they took the staircase and painted windows.  Glad to see these came back home after many years.  The windows along the curved staircase are painted.  No.  Not stained glass.  Painted.  They are a variety of scenes of the rise and fall of the confederacy.   The hallway and staircase are quite huge, I felt like a shrimp here!


The front parlor is a historically accurate color, though I just call it PANK.  Really PANK.  The home is often rented out as a wedding venue, so not much in the way of furniture in here.  You know it’s a big room when a grand piano looks small in it.

The dining room is just as large as you’d expect in this kind of home, with huge built ins for china and serving ware.  I got sidetracked by the biggest cuckoo clock I’ve ever seen.

What’s interesting walking through this house – you see such contradictions when it was built.  Really intricate mosaic work, painted windows – then you see where Mr. Rhodes cut costs, using prefab molds on some woodwork and of course much plainer trim in the family areas of the house.

Here’s a floorpan of the first floor, courtesy of the Georgia Trust (the second and third floor are Ga Trust offices etc):

Microsoft Word - Rhodes Hall Rental Information.doc

When you go up to the 3rd floor, you go into the Billiard Room, which was an exclusively male domain.  I always think of that game “Clue” when I hear Billiard Room.  I’m looking for Colonel Mustard and a candlestick.

And yes – it’s supposed to be haunted as well.  Some have stated it’s Mrs. Rhodes ghost, others say it is the children, and some say it was a caretaker.  Lots of theories that I read about from multiple sources. Ghost Hunters ran a segment on this several years ago, and is hosting a Ghost Hunt Weekend THIS weekend at Rhodes Hall.

Right here in Atlanta, this one is worth a visit!