Candler Park – Atlanta – The Smith-Benning House

Candler Park Smith-Benning House

Candler Park – This community of about 1,700 homes is just a few miles east of downtown Atlanta.  Founded in the 1870s, this neighborhood, along with the surrounding ones were among the first “suburbs” of Atlanta.  They were built along the streetcar and railroad lines, and this area was annexed by the City of Atlanta way back in 1909.

Candler Park, along with many Atlanta in-town neighborhoods, went into decline around the 1950s with the growth of suburban living.  Fast-forward a few decades and the rejuvenation of this neighborhood is apparent.  There’s an active Neighborhood Organization that hosts a big fall festival and tour of homes in early October.

The Smith-Benning House is considered to be both the oldest and largest house in Candler Park – and it’s fresh off a 27 YEAR restoration. Yes, 27 years of restoration to bring this house back.  The pictures below will show you quite a transformation.

As I was reading up on this house, early owners of this house found it impossible to heat this place – in 1905 they built a “winter home” literally next door to their house.

Looking all the way back to 1982, this house was ready for renovation.  The style is considered Victorian Eclectic – it’s got a whole lot going on.  These black & white pics are from the National Register of Historic Places Nomination.

Smith Benning 1982

Now I gotta say, looking at that picture above, here’s exactly what came to mind!

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Let’s take a look at the first floor before renovation – you get a sense of how grand this place was – I spy some pocket doors.  The stairwell has a lot of Eastlake details.

Smith Benning 3

Stairwell, circa 1982

Upstairs – while plaster was removed, the original woodwork was also removed and stored for restoration.

Upstairs Hallway


This grand house had gone into quite a decline before renovations began.  Even outside, a lot of the woodwork and trim was replaced.

Smith Benning

Fast Forward to 2015 and look at the result of 27 years of effort!  Yes, the owners spent 27 years bringing this beautiful home back to life and making all the needed repairs and renovations.  They received a couple of awards for this:

I’d give them the patience and perseverance award for sticking with a multi-decade renovation!

Candler Park Smith-Benning House 2

This is a large house on a small intown lot, so hard to get a lot of pictures between trees, power lines, the street, and whatnot!  Here’s a look around the other side of the house.  It keeps going and going and going….

Candler Park Smith Benning Side

I was so impressed with the woodwork on this house, here’s a close up of the detail on the front.

Candler Park Front Detail

This house was originally the house of Judge Charles W. Smith (1856-1923), who was one of the founders of Edgewood (as Candler Park was originally known).  He was the first mayor after it’s incorporation in 1898, and went on to the Atlanta City Council after the area was annexed by Atlanta in 1909.  It was purchased by Augustus Harrison Benning in 1889, and it stayed in his family’s ownership until the 1960s.  Interestingly, he was a partner in the development of Atlanta’s Flatiron Building (built 1897), which is Atlanta’s oldest remaining skyscraper.  And while New York has one too – Atlanta’s was completed a few years earlier than NYC’s!

Flatiron Building, Atlanta
Flatiron Building, Atlanta

Remember how I mentioned they built a winter home across the street in 1905?  Yes, that was the Benning family that did that in 1905 – quite a change from the big house above!  But hey, I understand drafty old houses, though I’ve never thought to build one next door for the winter.

Candler Park Winter House
Benning Family Winter Home, next door to the big house



The Homes of Social Circle

Social Circle, GA – Walton County – First off, Happy May!  So glad to have some great weather again, and had a chance to visit Social Circle.  Don’t you just love the name Social Circle? This town of about 3,500 got its name back in the 1800s because it was such a friendly place.  It’s still very friendly in 2015, with a Welcome/Visitors Center just off the main intersection in town.  This is the crossroads of two Creek Indian trading trails. You may have heard of it, as Nathalie Dupree lived here for a long time, and part of her PBS series was filmed right here.  Speaking of Southern Food, no trip to Social Circle is complete without a stop at The Blue Willow Inn where you can fill up on some fantastic down-home cooking.   Downtown Social Circle After spending some time in the Welcome Center, I was ready to walk around and see some of the beautiful old homes in this town.  The Historic Society HQ is in Gunter Hall, and it’s actually in its third location, behind the library.  Originally built as a Federal style house, it was remodeled in the 1890s and that’s when the fancy porch latticework was added.  Looking at the front, it looks huge! Gunter Hall Front And then when you go around to the side of the house, you see that it was built as a 2 room over 2 room house (with later addition off the back). Gunter Hall Side View This is the Standard-Stoddard-Dupree House, built around 1910.  It has a history of great food and gracious entertaining!  The original owners had large dinners around their dining room table that could seat up to 30 guests.  This is the home that Nathalie Dupree lived in, and also where one of her PBS series was filmed. Stanton-Stoddard-Dupree Home Built in 1872, this is the Catherin Gresham Townhouse.  It’s considered a New England style snow house, of all things!  It just has such a welcoming look to it! Catherine Gresham Townhouse As I kept walking, was excited to see this old beauty in the process of being restored to its former glory. Renovation Several folks were working away on this big old Georgia Home! Renovation 2 I always love homes with great front porches, and walking along I saw quite a few great ones… Social Circle 4 Social Circle 5 Social Circle 6   I had to do a double-take looking at one front porch, as seeing this brought back some childhood memories! Rocking Horse Finally, we end up at the Will T Knox house, from 1897.  This is one big house!  The Knox family lived in many of the big houses along this street.  This is considered Queen Anne style with a lot of gingerbread on it. Will T Knox House As I walked past this house, I got a sense of how big this one is! Knox House 2 There’s a lot more beautiful homes to check out in Social Circle.  Thanks so much for coming along and walking through Social Circle!

Victorian Homes in Washington, Ga

Washington, GA – Hope everyone had a good Easter! Spent a fun day in Washington on Saturday for their Spring Tour of Homes.  And wow have I got some beautiful homes to share with you over the next few posts that were on the tour.

So often we think about the white-columned, antebellum old homes.  One thing I noticed on Saturday was the sheer variety of old homes in Washington.  Small Town, Big history!  Lots more on the home tours coming up, but wanted to share a few of the houses I saw in town.  I think I said “Amazing” more than I heard it on an episode of “The Bachelor” or “Bachelorette”.

Fun to see such a great variety of Victorian homes – from cottages to those that are just Big Old Georgia Homes!  As soon as I got my tour ticket, I immediately had to look at this house right next to Tour Headquarters. See the one story part in the back?  That’s the original 1850 cottage.  The rest was added in 1877.


I decided to walk to the first house on the tour, and here are a couple that I saw along the way.  The red house got my attention right off the bat.  I wanted to move in. Right. That. Minute.


Across the street I saw the mustard colored house, which just happens to be for sale.  It’s huge!


And some of the Victorian cottages right along the way.  Just love the look of them!




Now after seeing a few homes on the tour (and I promise you, there are several posts on these coming!) I walked down another street and spied this 1908 house.  Got some of that Victorian detailing going on.  And that wrap around porch!



This cottage just caught my eye too, it was built in 1886. Isn’t this one great too?


Washington (population about 4,000) has some big history – one of the original counties when the state of Georgia was formed, there’s a Revolutionary War battlefield nearby, 3 separate house museums, a LOT of antebellum homes and Civil War history.  And Southern hospitality galore!

Thanks for looking at some beautiful Victorian Homes, and I’m going through lots of inside pics from the home tour – posting those here soon!





Inside A Big Old, Rambling Victorian

The Cedars

Washington, GA – This 18 room house is known as “The Cedars” – it’s a Big Old Georgia Home for sure!  And the land here was originally an Indian homesite, and later owned by George Walton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

George Walton one of the Declaration of Independence Signers









The original house was started 1793, added onto in 1805, and then the big two story addition was added in 1885.  Style-wise, they call this High Victorian.  Check out the outside details before we go in.  They just kept adding and adding to this place!

Victorian woodwork


Porch detail

Here’s a picture from 1889, soon after the big front addition was completed (courtesy Ga Archives).  I wasn’t sure why an 11 room addition was necessary, but get this – the owner at that time had 10 children.  That’s why you build a big old rambling Victorian house!  Guess they needed the room, huh?



I always like knowing what the houses I see looked like in the old days, and here’s a picture of one of the parlors in 1925 (Ga Archives, Vanishing Georgia Collection).  The house has 2 kitchens and 2 parlors – and they stretch to a total of 90 feet.



Looking around in the house, it’s got so many rooms, and it’s asymmetrical, so it’s hard to get a picture that conveys the sheer size of this place.  But you can tell this large family must have enjoyed this house, and just think if walls could talk! I liked the lived in feel in here.





double parlor




Thanks for going on this quick trip through this Big Old Georgia Home!  Appreciate you reading this!

Once Grand Victorian House…

Pendleton Graves House

Sparta, GA – Driving through Hancock County on a dreary day, happened upon this Victorian.  No I didn’t go inside of this one as it’s unoccupied.  It looked kinda spooky to me, and if I’d heard a noise inside here, it would have been “RUN FORREST, RUN!” time.  In all seriousness, I see houses like this and just see the potential to be restored to it’s former grandeur.

This is known as the Pendleton-Graves House, originally built in 1820 in a much plainer style.  The upstairs of the house is only one room deep, which is in keeping with homes built at that time in our area, the “I” house as it’s sometimes called.  2 stories tall, one story deep.

It was expanded, and then given a Victorian facelift sometime around 1880. I mean, look at the octagonal spires on the roof!

I couldn’t find a lot of information on this house, but did find a photo from 1973 that shows it in better days (and way fewer paint colors) courtesy of UGA digital archives.

UGA Digital Archives


Lots of history and historic homes throughout Sparta and Hancock County, so will be sharing those here with you soon!