Focus on Atlanta: The Atlanta History Center and Atlanta Heritage Row
AHA Staff, October 1995
The Atlanta History Museum
The Atlanta History Museum brings the story of Atlanta's past to life. Visitors to the museum, which is part of the Atlanta History Center, learn about how Atlanta grew to be the South's leading city, about the Civil War and civil rights, about African American history, Jewish history, Gone with the Wind, and more. The building features 30,000 square feet of exhibition space, a museum shop, the Coca-Cola Cafe, a 118-seat theater, a 12-seat orientation video room, reception and special events facilities, two classrooms, collection storage, and offices for museum and education department staff.
In addition to the history museum, the Atlanta History Center maintains two historic homes, both of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1928 for the heirs to a cotton fortune, the Swan House reflects the lifestyle of a wealthy Atlanta family in the early 20th century. The Swan House was designed by well-known Atlanta architect Philip Trammel Shutze, and it contains many original antique and reproduction furnishings.
The Tullie Smith Farm, an 1840s plantation-plain farmhouse, evokes rural life in Atlanta before the Civil War. The farmhouse is surrounded by outbuildings, including a separate open hearth kitchen, blacksmith shop, smokehouse, double corncrib, pioneer log cabin, and barn. The farm also features traditional vegetable, herb, and flower gardens.
Visitors to the Atlanta History Center should set aside enough time to tour the center's 32 acres of beautiful gardens, woodlands, and nature trails to learn about the horticultural history of the Atlanta region. The gardens include the Mary Howard Gilbert Memorial Quarry Garden, with native plants, wildflowers, bridges, and a stream; the Tullie Smith Farm gardens, which contain period vegetables, flowers, herbs, and antique species rarely seen elsewhere; the Swan House gardens, which feature formal boxwoods and classical statuary; the Swan Woods Trail; the Garden for Peace, where visitors can view the Soviet Georgian sculpture, "The Peace Tree"; the Frank A. Smith Memorial Rhododendron Garden, with dozens of species of rhododendrons and azaleas; and the Cherry Sims Asian American Garden, which contains species from the southeastern United States and Asia.
The Atlanta History Center's library and archives are located in McElreath Hall, where researchers and members of the media may purchase copies of photographs and images of items in the center's collections. McElreath Hall houses the Cherokee Garden Library, which contains an extensive collection of gardening and horticultural materials.
The Atlanta History Center is located at 130 West Paces Ferry Road, N.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30305-1366. The center is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5:30 p.m. The staff recommends that visitors reserve three hours to tour the center. The library and archives are open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Directions via MARTA: from the Lenox station, take Bus 23 south to the intersection of Peachtree and West Paces Ferry Roads; walk west on West Paces Ferry Road past the second traffic light (Slaton Drive) to the pedestrian entrance. For more information, call (404) 814-4000.
Atlanta Heritage Row: The Museum at Underground
Atlanta Heritage Row tells the story of Atlanta with historic photographs, videotapes, and interactive exhibitions. Visitors can listen to Martin Luther King, Jr., while standing in his pulpit, witness episodes from the Civil War while huddled in a replica of a bomb shelter, and imagine approaching Hartsfield International Airport while crouched in the cockpit of a jetliner. The museum offers a variety of books on southern cooking, the Civil War, and black history. Atlanta Heritage Row is located at 55 Upper Alabama Street in Underground Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Directions via MARTA: Five Points station, Underground Atlanta exit. For more information, call (404) 584-7879.
The following exhibitions will be on view at the Atlanta History Museum during the 1996 AHA annual meeting.
Gone for a Soldier: Transformed by War, 1861–65 examines the lives of common soldiers and looks at the physical and mental adaptations they had to make to cope with the unexpected realities of survival during wartime. The exhibition features historic photographs and nearly 300 objects, including uniforms, knapsacks, letters and diaries, pipes and tobacco, reunion badges, rifles, and a surgeon's kit.
Metropolitan Frontiers: Atlanta, 1835–2000 tells the story of Indian settlements, cotton fields, railroads, the Civil War, Gone with the Wind, the civil rights movement, CNN, and the 1996 Olympic Games. The story is told through hundreds of historic photographs, antique clothing, original documents, video presentations, and hands-on displays. The exhibition directs visitors to related historic sites in Atlanta for further exploration.
Great Expectations: The Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895 celebrates the centennial of the 1895 exposition. The exposition was designed primarily to celebrate the natural resources of the southern states in order to attract northern investment, but it also focused attention on the accomplishments of women and African Americans, two groups whose status in the New South was still being defined. The 1895 exposition was the first at which African Americans had a building in which to showcase their progress since the abolition of slavery, and only the second to dedicate an entire building to women's enterprises.
he Herndons: Style and Substance of the Black Upper Class in Atlanta, 1880-1930 re-creates the living room of Alonzo Herndon's 1910 mansion. Alonzo Herndon, who was born into slavery, became Atlanta's first black millionaire. He founded the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, one of the largest black-owned insurance companies in the United States. His rise to prominence reflects the development of the African American community in a city that continued to be divided by race after Emancipation. The exhibition features period clothing, furniture, historic photographs, and manuscripts.
Those who attend the 1996 AHA annual in Atlanta meeting may want to visit the following exhibitions in addition to the Atlanta History Center. The November and December issues of Perspectives will feature additional sites of interest in Atlanta.
Scitrek is an interactive science and technology center that features more than 150 exhibition stations that help visitors understand scientific principles and learn about their importance in everyday life. The museum has nine thematic areas: Electric-Magnetic Junction, the Color Factory, Light Reflections, Perception and Illusions, Simple Machines, Making Work Easier, Mathematica, Power Your Future, the Technology Hall of Fame of Georgia, and Kidspace. Visitors to the museum include residents, students, conventioneers, and business visitors; 52 percent of the museum's visitors are adults. The museum is located at 395 Piedmont Avenue, N.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30308, and its hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors should allow two hours to tour the museum. For more information, call (404) 522-5500, ext. 233 or 254.
Road to Tara Museum
"The Road to Tara" is the first title that Margaret Mitchell gave to her novel Gone with the Wind. The Road to Tara Museum is located in the same Peachtree Street building in which Mitchell presented her completed manuscript to her publisher and where the cast of Gone with the Wind stayed during the movie's 1939 premiere. The museum houses 6,000 square feet of memorabilia collected from around the world. The Rare Books and Manuscript Room contains autographed first editions of Gone with the Wind as well as foreign editions; it also includes Margaret Mitchell's personal letters and papers. The David O. Selznick's Screening Room is a 35-seat theater that features film clips about Mitchell's life and about the Battle of Atlanta. The Main Gallery houses posters and photographs related to the film Gone with the Wind, while the Memorial Gallery tells the story of Mitchell's life. The Road to Tara Museum also includes a war exhibit, which includes memorabilia pertaining to the Battle of Atlanta, a doll collection, a costume gallery, and a gift shop. The museum is located at 659 Peachtree Street, The Georgian Terrace, Atlanta, Georgia 30308. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (404) 897-1939.
The Welcome South Visitors Center
The Welcome South Visitors Center is an exhibition that showcases the Southeast, its culture, and the global and national events that will take place in the region in the coming years. The center features interactive displays, film presentations, retail stores with Olympic apparel and collectibles, and a bookstore. The center is located at 200 Spring Street, N.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30303. For more information, call (404) 224 2000.