Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Visiting the Archibald Smith Plantation, Roswell, Georgia

In my post of October 14, 2014, I mentioned that we had planned to visit the Archibald Smith Plantation that past week-end but instead we went to the ChalkFest festival in Marietta.  A week ago on Friday October 17, 2014, the weather was quite warm and sunny so we did go to Roswell to see the third antebellum home owned by the city of Roswell, the Archibald Smith Plantation.  Seasonal decorations had been placed by the front door - and pumpkins, of course. 

Since visiting this plantation I have read up on its history.  Archibald Smith was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1801, and had married his cousin, Anne Magill, in 1830.  They had two plantations along the coast near St. Mary, Georgia,  (below Savannah,) which were struggling financially.  The Smiths were strict and devout Presbyterians.  Another Presbyterian, Roswell King, was founding a small town in North Georgia, named after him, and invited the Smiths to come up and settle there.  Archibald Smith moved to Roswell with his wife, their four children and 30 of their slaves in 1838.  Archibald was the only farmer among the founding fathers - the others were involved in the cotton mill.  The Smith farmhouse and outbuildings were built, between 1843-1845, a mile from the Roswell town square.  The Smith plantation included 300 acres (1.2 km2) of cotton-producing land.  Below is a picture of Archibald and his wife Anne.

Three generations have lived in this house and saved many family belongings which are on display.  Arthur William Smith (1881-1960) the grandson of Archibald married Mary Norvell in 1940 and they renovated the historic home.  Arthur had studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and his wife had a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University.  The house was in the Plantation Plain-style and had been left unoccupied for 25 years.  Below is how the house looked before and after renovation.  (Courtesy Georgia Archives.)

The house, a two-story wood structure, is the standard two-story four-square, i.e. four rooms down and four room up with a central hall.  It originally had a full width one-story front porch.  Mary Norvell Smith, who was a fan of Gone with the Wind, had the original front porch replaced in 1940 with a two-story porch with square columns.  An indoor kitchen, indoor plumbing and electricity were added as well. A back view of the house shows a one-story porch.

Apart from these renovations the house has been left pretty much the same during these past 169 years.  As we entered the house, we went back in time.  A docent took us to look at several family photographs and explained the family tree.  Archibald and his wife Anne raised two daughters (who stayed single) and two sons in this plantation home.  Both sons fought in the Confederate Army.  Archibald, Jr., "Archie" (1844-1923) was the only child to marry.  Archie's son, Arthur William Smith, was the last Smith descendant who married Mary Norvell when he was almost 60 years old.  They had no children and when Mary died on New Year's Day 1981 the house passed to her niece, Josephine Skinner.  Below are the family pictures with enlargements of Archie, Mary and William Smith.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

We passed from the hall to the office library.  It has original family furnishing from the first to the last generation, such as Archibald's desk to an old television console and small portable record player.


The parlor also contains fine antiques.  When the Smiths fled Roswell during the Civil War they moved their 1833 piano to the Georgia-Florida frontier - to Valdosta, Georgia.

A black trunk can be seen in the picture above - this is William Smith's (1834-1865) trunk.  "Willie" as he was called - the other son of Archibald Smith - was stationed near Savannah during the Civil War.  As General Sherman of the Union Army was taking control of the Savannah area, Willie sent his trunk with his belongings back to the family.  Unfortunately Willie died during the long march home, two weeks after the Civil War ended.  The family was devastated.  The trunk was put away in the attic.  (Pictures below courtesy Roswell Historic and Cultural Affairs.)

There Willie's trunk stood, undisturbed, until Arthur Skinner, one of the heirs of the estate, found it in 1987 - 122 years later.  The trunk contained letters, clothing and more.  Arthur and his brother, Dr. J. Lister Skinner, selected some of the letters and published them in a book "The Death of a Confederate" (which I found second-hand and have ordered.)  Willie had written a list of the items contained in his trunk, and most of them were still there.  Below is the trunk which contained Willie's coat as well as a little box of quinine pills among other personal items.  The trunk was donated to the Smith Plantation in 2006.

A lovely seasonal arrangement was centered on the banquet-size walnut table in the dining room.  The table is original to the house.

There was also an Empire style crotch mahogany sideboard from the 1860s.

We went upstairs to view the bedrooms.  Some clothing from the 19th century was displayed as well as a "washing tub."

The last resident of the house was the housekeeper Mamie Cotton.  She started working as a cook for the Smith household in 1940 and was in their employ for 54 years.  When Arthur Smith died in 1960, Mamie Cotton moved into the house to take care of Mary Norvell Smith until Mary's death in 1981.  When the Smith property was sold to the city of Roswell one of the stipulations of the sale was that Mamie Cotton be allowed to live the rest of her life in the house.  Mamie passed away in 1994.  Here is her picture below, courtesy Roswell Historic and Cultural Affairs.

Below is the kitchen now.

On the back porch is a door going to a small room that was called a "Traveler's or Parson's Room."  It used to be left unlocked so that any passing traveler or preacher who needed a room for the night could stay there.  In the morning he would have had breakfast with the family and provided them with any news he was aware of.  Below you can see the wall of that room on the right, next to the window.

As you can see it was a warm and bright day - not much fall color showing and a temperature of 80 degree F (26.5 C) in the shade.  In 1980 the Skinner family sold 32 acres of the plantation land to the city of Roswell for a municipal complex.  Then in 1984 they sold the plantation home and 10 original outbuildings on the 8 acre-grounds for $125,000 to the city of Roswell also.  This was a much lower price than had been offered by developers to the Skinners, but they wished to have the property preserved.  The house has been opened to the public since 1992 (while Mamie Cotton still lived there.)  We walked around the house to the cookhouse, which was used as a kitchen for the plantation until 1915.  Now it is used for cooking demonstrations.

Then we walked by the caretaker's house.  Originally built in 1844 it was destroyed in 1996 when a huge tree fell on it.  A sign indicates that this was the second oldest white oak tree in the State of Georgia (250 to 300 years old.)  Below is a picture showing the tree, when standing and when it fell (courtesy Jim Skinner.)  The house is now an office.

The carriage house built in the 1850s was converted into a garage in the 1940s.

The slave cabins were torn down a long time ago but there is a slave dwelling representative of such a building.  Being close to the house this would have been used by house servants.  There is an old picture of a slave cabin, but the type that would have been for slaves in the fields.

Walking around the house and in the gardens, I was surprised to see so many tall lamp posts.  I found out that Mary Norvell Smith purchased approximately 39 London street lights from the City of London in 1960.  They were shipped on the Queen Mary.  They were electrified and placed on the Smith Plantation grounds.  Here is one below in front of the house.

Below is another London lamp post on the grounds.

Here is an interesting fact that I discovered: on the information panel in the slave cabin (shown above) I read that Archibald Smith's farm in St. Mary in coastal Georgia had been named "Appenzelle" which I thought an unusual name for a southern farm and believed it was for a reason.  I knew of Appenzell, a city and canton in Switzerland.  So I did some digging and found out that around 1730 or so the new colony of Georgia, had sent PR leaflets to Europe to entice immigrants to settle in this new southern frontier.  In 1737 two hundred Swiss immigrants from Canton Appenzell relocated opposite Augusta, Georgia, east of the Savannah River.  The leader of these German and French speaking Swiss settlers was John Tobler.  Anna Tobler (1725-1765) came to Georgia from Appenzell and was the great-grand mother of both Archibald Smith and his wife Anne Magill Smith (they were cousins.)  So this is why Archibald Smith had called his plantation Appenzelle.   Below are photos of Appenzell (courtesy French General Consulate in Zurich) and two vintage postcards showing Appenzell costumes.

The Archibald Smith Plantation is a beautiful place but, it does not have the mountain vistas of Canton Appenzell.  I played with my photos and made the house in sepia color.

Then I used the "paint" option and made my photo of the house as a watercolor.  But in black and white, sepia, or in color, it is truly a lovely place to visit.  With the house museum, all the artifacts, buildings and structures we got a glimpse at the lives of the inhabitants of this "big house" in the antebellum Deep South.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

A sale in historic Mimosa Hall

Toward the end of September I saw an estate sale advertized.  It was a 3-day sale in a historic house in Roswell, Georgia.  When I realized that it was to take place in Mimosa Hall, I decided to go, just to see the house at least.  I had seen it from the street, but could not distinguish much of the house.  So this sale was a good opportunity to get a close look at the house and see more.

Roswell is a town about 15 miles (24 km) from our home and has many historic houses.  I have already mentioned Bulloch Hall which we visited at a couple of Christmas times and during their quilt shows in the spring (here is a link, and here another link on the quilts.)  Below are some pictures I took of Bulloch Hall then.

The City of Roswell purchased 3 historic homes - which they call "A Southern Trilogy."  They are the homes of three of the families who founded this town.

In addition to Bulloch Hall, we visited the exterior of Barrington Hall a couple of times, and I'll have posts on those visits.  You can see my husband, below, sitting on Barrington Hall porch last January while I was taking some pictures of the garden.

Last Friday, October 17, 2014, we visited the third antebellum house, the Archibald Smith Plantation.  I'll also have a post on it soon.

A fourth house, Mimosa Hall, was also built in the mid-1800s, but is now in private hands.  It is very close to Bulloch Hall and the Saturday of the sale, September 20, 2014, I parked in the street, just a few yards from Mimosa Hall, right in front of the gate of Bulloch Hall.  It was a very sunny and warm day but I did not see any visitors on its grounds.  It was also the annual Arts Festival on the Square in Roswell.

Since going to this sale I have found out that Mimosa Hall was built between 1839 and 1840 for John Dunwody (1786-1858) (also spelled Dunwoody) a coastal planter who had moved to Roswell from Liberty County, near Savannah, Ga.  The house was built adjacent to Bulloch Hall because John Dunwoody's wife was the sister of Major James. S. Bulloch.  The house, built of wood, burned down the night of its housewarming.  Another house made of brick covered with stucco and scored to resemble stone, was built on the same site and called Phoenix Hall.  Below is the house in 1940 and John Dunwody (courtesy Georgia Archives.)

During the Civil War the house was a hospital. In 1869 the house was sold to General Andrew J. Hansell and was renamed Mimosa Hall (because of a large number of mimosa trees on the estate.)  He sold it 30 years later but in 1947 Granger Hansell re-purchased the house for the family (he was the great-grandson of Andrew Hansell.)  Granger's son, Edward and his wife Sylvia, lived in the house until their deaths.  Their daughter Sally now owns the house.  I understood that Sally Hansen is re-decorating the house and was selling the furnishing of her father, Edward, who passed away in 2012.  It was not easy walking on the driveway which is paved with large rocks - larger than regular cobblestones.  The garden looked very inviting with its enormous century-old trees.

Entering the house, the foyer reminded me of Bulloch Hall.  I later found out that the two houses are very much alike.  I was surprised also to see that so few people were at the sale - I guess it was because of the Arts festival.  Another large event was going on also in a nearby church.


The sale had started on Friday and by Saturday, the day I went there, many of the items had been sold, but there were still many more - furniture, china, paintings, dishes, silverware, books, etc.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

I looked more at the rooms in the house rather than what was for sale.  I could not stop going to the books though and did purchase one.  It is called "Born in Paradise" by Armine von Tempski, a first 1940 edition (for $2.)  It is the true story of the young Armine on Haleakala Ranch in Hawaii - a 60,000 acres ranch.  It describes the way the island of Maui was in the early 1900s before the real estate boom and strip malls.  I think it will be a good book to read during the cold of winter.

Upstairs was a room filled with clothes and shoes.  I did not go in.  The other room had what was left of a doll house, toys, linens, more clothes and hats.  A lovely chandelier was hanging in the hall, but I don't think it was for sale.

Then I walked up to the attic.  Just as the attic in Bulloch Hall, it was rather large.  It was filled with a great variety of items, old, quaint, cute, shabby, broken and almost new.

Walking back downstairs I stopped on several steps to look at three lovely paintings.

The late Sylvia Hansell was an an accomplished artist.  Her paintings hang in some regional art galleries and in private collections.  In addition to the stairwell her paintings were being offered for sale throughout Mimosa Hall.

As I was ready to leave one of the sales associates announced that there was now a 25% discount on all items.  In addition to the book I had already selected there were two other objects I liked - a lamp in the attic, with a long and narrow unusual lampshade and one of Ms. Hansell's paintings.  I was told she painted it in the Mimosa Hall gardens.  The colors were soft and bright at the same time, in hues of lilac, purple and blue.  So I left with my three purchases.  I was also very pleased to have had the chance to visit this historic home.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Street art - the ChalkFest on Marietta Square, October 2014

Last Saturday, October 11, 2014, we had planned to go to the Fall Festival at the Smith Plantation in nearby Roswell, Georgia, as we have never visited this plantation.  But, the morning sky was very dark and it started to rain lightly.  Instead we decided to go and have lunch at the Australian Bakery, on the Square in Marietta.  When we arrived downtown Marietta the streets were very wet - it must have rained heavily there.  In addition the roads leading to the Square were closed off.  We managed to park and then walked to the Square.  That is when we realized that this was the ChalkFest week-end. 

Last year the ChalkFest festival, hosted by the Marietta Museum of Art, had been held in conjunction with the Arts in the Park event during the Labor Day week-end (early September.)  I had written a post on both events, click on Chalk Art in Marietta, dated October 12, 2013, to read it.  We were not aware that this year the festivals were not held together as we were not here on Labor Day.  The sun started coming out and we ate our lunch on a sidewalk table outside the bakery.  From the Australian Bakery we could see the children amusement area.  There was some machine, where the child sits inside an elliptical big thingy and is turned around and around.  I have never seen this machine but I guess this would be fun for kids?  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

This year the Marietta ChalkFest was featuring 40 professional chalk artists from eight US states.  Last year there were only 20 professional chalk artists.  Each artist is sponsored by a business.  The name of the business is inscribed in the street painting as an advertisement for that firm.  On a side road close to the Art Museum was an area reserved for non professional artists, of all ages.  The event started at 10 am on Saturday morning but since it rained, some of the work, mostly the non professional work that had no plastic covering, was washed out.  Work created by professional artist was to be finished on Sunday, by 5 pm, but it rained again on Sunday morning.  I was hoping that the drawings were well shielded so they could be finished.  (The sun came back on Sunday after lunch.)

On Saturday we started walking along the main street around the Square to take a look.  By then the sun was shining brightly and it was around 81 degree F (27 C.)

Some of the artists had placed the model for their chalk art on the pavement.  Of course, because of the delay caused by the rain most of the works were in the starting stages.

Julie Graden is the artist who painted the crow - the two top left-hand pictures above.  I like crow paintings - my blogging friend Stacy of MagicLoveCrow paints some terrific whimsical crows.  On the web site of Julie Graden, click here, she shows also some watercolor paintings, acrylic paintings and more.  She lives in Land O'Lakes, Florida.  Below is a sample of her art.

Stop the Press!! As I was writing the above Sunday afternoon, the sun was shining brightly.  I stopped typing and called my husband "Let's get back to the Square and look at the ChalkFest again!"  He was ready to go, so we drove there (about 8 miles from our house or 12.8 km.)  What a difference a day made - the chalk drawings were about finished.  So we walked around again and I took many pictures.  I'll go back now to the collages that I showed above and find the finished drawings.

Marietta ChalkFest provided a biography of most the chalk artists in attendance.  The bottom left picture above, of the witch with an apple and worm was made by Bridget K. Lyons of Tampa, Florida.  She has been to numerous chalk art festivals.  Below are two more of her street drawings (Courtesy B. K. Lyons.)

The drawing of the girl in a blue dress with long red hair, above, was drawn by Stacey Williams of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She is also a children's book illustrator.  Below are some of her chalk art.  (Courtesy S. Williams.)

The drawing below, on the right, of the woman's face was done by Cass Womack, who lives in Tampa, Florida and is originally from Minnesota.


There is a certain amount of distortion by taking photos of the ground, the drawings look better if the photos are taken from some height.  There was a professional photographer at the fest, and he carried a ladder with him.  I asked him to take a picture using my Nikon to see the difference.  You can see the result below.  The photo taken from the ladder is on the bottom of the collage as you may have guessed.

The crowd was larger on Sunday afternoon than on Saturday, and it was warmer too - 83 degree F (28.5 C.)  You can see the photographer on his ladder below and the roll of plastic on the center of the road.  It it starts raining, the large plastic sheet covers all the chalk drawings and is sealed all around it.  Then after the rain, a leaf blower is used to blow the rain away from the plastic sheeting.  (Click on collage to see better.)

On Saturday I saw the beginning of Beth Shistle's owl drawing.  I was pleased to see it finished on Sunday afternoon.  Beth is an award winning artist from DeLand, Florida, who has been participating in chalk art festivals since 2004.  She is a talented artist and also a retired elementary school teacher.  Below on the right are two of her other chalk drawings.

People had brought their children and also their dogs.  I do not take close-ups of children unless authorized but people usually do not mind if I take a quick photo of their dogs - there were some cute ones.

It certainly was a beautiful afternoon.  A Marietta policeman was going around on his electric wheels, and the firemen were carrying their first aid kits in the back of their bicycles.  There was music as well.  A gentleman was playing his guitar.  He told me it was a "resonator" guitar.  I asked him if he could make it sound like Hawaiian music.  He placed the guitar on his knees  and played it in a sliding motion.

Passing by an ice-cream shop, we decided to have some and eat it sitting outside.  The trees did not show much fall color yet.

Then we looked at more chalk art.


Some of the drawings that I had photographed on Saturday were finished and looked great.

The drawings shown on the two top right hand pictures above have been drawn by Anat Ronen, a self-taught artist.  She is based in Houston, Texas and is originally from Israel.  Her website shows her art including murals, both indoor and outdoor, as pictured below (courtesy A. Ronen.)

On Saturday afternoon I took photos of some chalk art from non-professional artists, but after the rain on Sunday morning, they could hardly be seen.

Michelle Hawkins (with the beret below) from Orlando, Florida, was finishing her pumpkin themed drawing and joking with on-lookers and fellow artists.  It seems there was much chalk adorning the artists too...

Joel Yau, a chalk artist from San Rafael, California, who has participated in numerous international street art festivals, had finished his heroine from a sequel to horror movie "Frankenstein."  He draws attractive mid-century women faces as you can see below. 

By now it was after 5 pm, the fest was over and people were leaving.  Most artists were congregating in the hospitality area reserved for them.  But Joel Yau was helping his street artist neighbor to finish his drawing.

The drawing was a brightly colored rendering of children with a pumpkin.  Being close to Halloween (October 31st) there were many scary faces and pumpkins, in the chalk drawings, decorating shops and also on the Square.

We walked across the Square to return to our car, but stopped by the fountain first.

It had been another fun afternoon on the Marietta Square.  We were pleased that we returned to the ChalkFest and to have seen the usual grey asphalt surface turned into a temporary museum.  There was such creative and stunning visual art with optical illusions and bright colors.  Their canvas was the pavement, temporarily.  This morning I was awaken before 5 am by the sound of sirens announcing a possible tornado.  This was followed by heavy rain.  I thought about all the chalk masterpieces around the Square and felt sad that they would be so soon gone, not with the wind ... but with the rain.