Last October 2014 we visited the Archibald Smith Plantation in Roswell, Georgia, built in 1843. I wrote a post about it - click here
to see it again. In one of the rooms was exposed an old trunk which had been found in the attic in 1987. Inside the trunk were the personal possessions of William Smith (1834-1865,) called Willie
, and his letters. These letters and other family letters were gathered and published in a book entitled "The Death of a Confederate" edited by Arthur and James Skinner.
I found the book, second-hand, and started to read it. In the preface I read that Willie's brother, Archie (1844-1923) had attended the "Georgia Military Institute" in Marietta, Georgia.
I had vaguely heard about this institute before but was not sure where it had been located. I found out that classes started there in 1851. The institute was acquired by the State of Georgia in 1858. Townspeople were proud of this institute, the first collegiate level of higher learning in northwest Georgia. They came to watch daily drills and dress parades. By 1861 there were 150 Cadets there who later left for active duty in the Confederate Army. During the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War, the Federal Forces of General Sherman occupied the institute and on November 13, 1864, when they departed, they burnt the buildings down. The house of the first superintendent of the institute, Colonel Arnoldus V. Brumby, a West Point graduate, was spared.
In 1915 a private country club, with a golf course, was established on the site of the former institute but moved years later. It became a civic center then was purchased by the Hilton Corporation and turned into the Hilton Conference Center and Resort. Pictures below courtesy of the Hilton.
But what had happened to the superintendent house which had been saved? I called the Hilton and was told that the house located on their property, was owned by the city of Marietta and leased to the Hilton. They use it now for special events and weddings. I asked if I could take a tour of the house and was told that someone would call me back. A gentleman called me in the evening and said that if I wished to visit the house, I needed to be there the next morning at 10 am, the only time the house would be available for viewing. The next morning, Thursday December 11, 2014, my husband and I drove to the Hilton. The facility cannot be seen from the street. We drove around the parking lot but could not find the house. Finally we saw a gate with an historical marker in front of it. (Please click on photo to enlarge.)
At the end of the footpath was the house. I realized then that I had been driving in front of this house for decades on my way home from work but had never known it was there as it cannot be seen behind the trees.
We were early, it was only 9:45 am, and the house was partially in the shade. It was a bright, warm and sunny morning. We stepped up to the porch and waited in one of the rocking chairs.
At 10 o'clock a gentleman appeared. He greeted us and opened the front door. He was Mr. L., a volunteer from the "Friends of Brumby Hall." He gave us a brief history of the house. I tried to take pictures with my Nikons while he talked. I did not use the flash so some pictures are a bit dark and some are not too clear. He told us that Brumby Hall, as it is now called, is a prime example of a Greek revival cottage. It has five rooms and a solarium. Each room is furnished with antiques and period furniture, mostly in the Victorian but also the Eastlake styles. There are gardens behind the property - a rose garden, boxwood garden, topiary garden, and the Knot garden. We will come back in the spring when flowers are in bloom. This lovely house was built adjacent to the military institute for Colonel Arnoldus VanderHorst Brumby and his family. Colonel Brumby was a West Point graduate and directed the institute, from 1851 to 1859, in the same manner as West Point. The house was used as a hospital by Sherman's troops during the Civil War. In the front hall is a portrait of Colonel Brumby. The portrait of his wife, Ann Eliza Wallis Brumby, is in one of the parlors. After the Civil War the house fell in disrepair, as you can see form the photographs below, but new owners restored the house to its former splendor.
Mr. L. is a volunteer member of the Friends of Brumby Hall, a group who furnished the house and maintains it as an event facility in conjunction with the Hilton Conference Center. They also decorate this historic house at Christmas time. We walked into the main parlor containing a Chickering square grand piano and enjoyed looking at the pretty Christmas decorations.
Then we saw the lovely ladies' parlor with sofas and armchairs covered in pink fabric. I admired the grand chimney and mirror.
The small dining/tea room in the back had beautiful furniture and another Christmas tree.
There were so many antiques to see but Mr. L. was walking away and it was difficult to keep up and take pictures. I took as many as I could, quickly. Over one of the mantels was a period painting of the Georgia Military Institute. Please click on the collage, twice, to see the photos better.
The large dining room was set up for a dinner that evening. Mr. L. told us that at Christmas time, families or groups will reserve this room for a period dinner with many courses, starting with oysters flown in from Savannah, Georgia - the same type of menu that would have been served in Brumby Hall in the mid 1850s. That evening a family, with members coming from a variety of US states, was going to gather here for their Christmas dinner - an event they shared every year. Mr. L. told us that the house had many such dinners booked during the month of December. He told us to notice that the pineapple, symbol of hospitality, was well represented on the table such as on the stems of the crystal goblets, the bottom of the name card holders and the brass centerpieces.
We walked upstairs to look at the bedrooms. Again there was so much to see.
The front bedroom is large. A tall Christmas tree was decorated with hand crocheted ornaments and cotton balls. I took a photo of Mr. L. in front of the tree. It turned out that he had taught the children of my late best friend, Colonel Daniel.
The children's beds were decorated with dolls and toys. One of the beds is an original 18th century portable crib.
The back bedroom has been converted into a "bride's room." It is the room where brides can get ready or can rest when the house is booked for a wedding. The furniture is covered in a restful blue color.
I tried to take pictures of as many of the Christmas decorations as I could, like the 3 French hens
, and the beautiful hall chandelier.
Then it was time to go. We took a last look at the house. It was past high noon now and the house was in the sun. We walked to the back of the house to see the gardens, but of course they would look much nicer in the spring.
Listening to the menu served in the house gave us an appetite. It was lunch time so we drove to the Marietta Diner and had a gyro. My husband could not resist having a slice of one of their delicious cakes - he chose a chocolate cake. I took a bite, but it was too sweet for me. I would prefer a piece of Belgian dark chocolate!
I hope to receive, hopefully, some good dark chocolates for Christmas. In France groceries and supermarkets are full of large and beautiful boxes of chocolate at this time. Adults do not give too many gifts at Christmas, apart from toys to children, but a box of chocolate is offered usually to family, friends and colleagues for the New Year. I wish you all a happy holiday season - a Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it,
and a Happy Hanukkah, if you celebrate it, too.
Here is a beautiful Tree of Life from my friend Valerie-Jael who shows stunning photographs and her art work on her blog Bastlemania
Be happy and enjoy yourself during these celebrations!