Violet Bank House – Griffin GA


Violet Bank in Griffin GA

Griffin, GA – This house is known as Violet Bank, had an opportunity to visit this one in the fall.  It was originally built in 1890 is a large farm house, and still has about 13 acres (including some really nice formal gardens in the back) of property despite being an “in town” location.

Gardens - Violet Bank

They say that the homeowners went to Europe in the 1920s and left they architects to turn it into a Georgian Revival Mansion.  The inspiration for the home is Hanbury Hall – located in Worcestershire (as in the sauce!), England.  Found a picture of the inspiration home and had to add this place.  Wow.


"Hanbury Hall 011" by Glen Bowman from Newcastle, England - Where was this?. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Hanbury Hall 011” by Glen Bowman from Newcastle, England

Violet Bank is a private home, so was glad to have the opportunity for a tour!

Covington Homes, Part 2 (and a 1947 unsolved murder)


Hope you had a chance to read Part 1 of the quick trip to Covington from earlier this week.  There are so many historic homes in Covington I had to split the article!  This is the Usher House, built around 1845.  One thing I learned is that many of the families on Floyd Street were related by marriages etc.  Usher House is a good example: Mrs Usher was the sister of Judge Floyd, who lived across the street.  And one of her daughters married a Henderson from across the street as well.  Can you imagine most of your family all living on the same street?


The house above is the Cook-Adams-Williams House, but it’s also known as “The Cedars”.  Built around 1880 and enlarged around 1900, it’s unusual in that it has a bayed front entrance with victorian double doors.  Kinda interesting look!


Now if you watch The Vampire Diaries, you look at the house above and say “hey, that’s Lockwood Manor!” – and yep, it sure is the location they use for it.  It’s Worthington Manor, built around 1850.  One of the highlights of the house is it’s disappearing windows – remember, way back before air conditioning folks could walk through the huge windows when they were open.  Side note: don’t even google “disappearing windows” unless you want lots of info on Microsoft Windows LOL.



This is the King House, built in 1890.  It was originally a 1 story house and a mirror image of the house across the street (see, houses looked alike back in 1890 too).  In 1930, the owners did a major restoration oft he house and added the second story.  I am curious if the windows are really low on the second floor?


Now the house above – this one has a story.  It is related to an unsolved murder from 1947!  But first, I gotta say I think this house was wanting to hide from being photographed. It’s called Magnolia Terrace for a reason – it’s got some serious old magnolia trees out front.  Originally built in 1846, it was remodeled in 1923 to the current Dutch Colonial Look.  When I think Dutch Colonial, I picture the  Amityville Horror house.

So yeah – an unsolved murder in Buckhead has a link this house.  Paul Refoule, a French artist had married Peggy Alston, the daughter of a prominent Atlanta family.  She was found in the creek behind their Buckhead home.  He was investigated and subsequently released.  He actually filed a suit against the state of Georgia for $50,000 for violating his civil rights.  Lots of 1947 newspaper articles on this and subsequent discovery that he was having an affair etc.  Reads like a soap opera.

To this day, this remains an unsolved murder.  Paul Refoule painted mural scenes in the breakfast room of this house, which was owned by the Callaway family at the time.

Lots more to Covington, and there are some cool tours offered in town.  If you live in Atlanta, it’s just 35 miles away so make the trip!

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!



Covington Homes, Part 1


Covington, GA – county seat of Newton County, just 35 miles east of Atlanta,  a good size town of about 12,000 residents.  Covington was incorporated in 1822 and the railroad arrived in 1845.  Part of the cotton belt, many planters built town homes here that have survived  over 150 years.

I managed to put the wrong address in my car’s navigation system, went right by the Visitors Center and to the town square.  Make that I drove around the town square about 8 times.  It’s a picturesque town square, and no surprise why so many shows and movies have filmed here, from In The Heat of The Night to Vampire Diaries – you can call this Sparta, MS or Mystic Falls, Virginia.  There’s some great information available in the Visitors Center, definitely worth checking it out.



The Victorian Courthouse, built in 1884.  Town square with multiple monuments.  Originally the courthouse was IN the town square.  


On the square panorama view.


This is known as the Porter-Rogers-Tuck House, built in 1903. Interestingly, this is the same Porter family that owned the nearby Porterdale Mills.

Right across the street is the Graham-Simms House, built around 1850 or so.  One of the highlights of this house is a circular staircase.  This house didn’t look as southern as most of the others, more of a Federal type style to me.  And that is one major iron fence around the property.


This is Swanscombe, built around 1828.  It’s thought to be the oldest clapboard house built in town.  It is said there are some great gardens in the back of this home.


Floyd House, from about 1830. So, this is who the street is named for – Judge John J. Floyd. Interestingly, his niece became the first woman member of the US Senate. Also you notice that the end columns on this house are square, not round.


Many more beautiful old Georgia homes in Covington, so will break this into additional posts.


When You Own Stone Mountain, Build a Granite Mansion!


Atlanta, GA – Ponce de Leon Avenue – This granite mansion, known as “Stonehenge” was built in 1914 for Samuel Hoyt Venable, along with his sister and her family. It’s now the home of St John’s Lutheran Church, and had an opportunity a while back to take a tour. Researching the family, I learned the Samuel Hoyt Venable went into business with his brother, and the company they formed was the first to own Stone Mountain in its entirety (1887).  They also owned Pine Mountain and Arabia Mountain in the late 1800s.  Guess they liked mountain ownership, huh?  Oh, and they had 2 (yes, TWO) summer homes at Stone Mountain.  I didn’t think traffic was so bad 100 years ago that your summer home needed to be 8 miles away…


They actually quarried granite at Stone Mountain, so naturally this house is built from Stone Mountain granite.  I got thinking “hey I bet my granite foundation is from Stone Mountain too!” but no, quarry operations were stopped early in the 20th Century.

Georgia Historical Society has a neat vintage postcard of the mansion, along with the Candler mansion next door, which has also become a church.

MS 1361PC3StoneMntFldrI

As we toured the house, I was struck by the sheer scale of it, which doesn’t always translate in photos.  It’s ginormous!  I was thinking “wow, I’d hate to heat and cool this place”, just one more reinforcement that I am hopelessly middle class.  I don’t think they were clipping coupons at this mansion!

We entered into the sunroom, which is now the pastor’s office.  The tile in there, with 100 years of use had a worn, but beautiful finish.  Painted ceiling beams are found in several rooms.

Another one of Venable’s sisters was a talented painter, and did paintings in a room now being used for meetings.  This was my favorite room in the house.  I called it the dining room, but was corrected.  And no, ceiling fan is not original to the room 🙂




Another impressive fireplace on the first floor, and more of the painting that his sister did.  What talent!:


One feature that reminded me of an English County House was the grand hallway just inside the front entry.  The woodwork was amazing.


Check out some more of this woodwork!



Not much to take any pictures of up on the second floor, a multitude of beds as it operates as a cold weather shelter and houses visiting groups.

Another feature that I found unusual was in the basement – the family had a summer game room that they used, that can best be described as an English Pub theme.



With the home being purchased by a church in the late 1950s, they have added an octagonal sanctuary to the front of the house.  Sounds weird, but it has been done well, and blends as much so as it can with a great old mansion.

Definitely worth a stop by here if you’re out on Ponce!