The Quintessential Guide To Historic Atlanta Home Tours

Storytelling takes place at The Wren's Nest every Saturday.
The Wren’s Nest was the home of author Joel Chandler Harris from 1881 until 1908. Photo courtesy of The Wren’s Nest.

Touring one of metro Atlanta’s historic homes is a snapshot of a different era.

Imagine your family settling down on 300 acres of open land in downtown Roswell to build a cotton farm, erecting a “castle” right on busy Peachtree Street, or being one of the first to ever build a home in Marietta.

These are true stories of past Atlantans, and their intriguing stories are preserved in the homes they left behind.

While some local historic homes have interesting backstories, others have iconic events that took place within their walls. For example, one of Atlanta’s historic structures was the birth place of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and another was where Margaret Mitchell wrote “Gone With The Wind.”

Beginning with the oldest homes of the 1800s and leading into the opulent mansions of the 1920s, these historic home tours take you through nearly a century of iconic local Atlanta families and their stories.

DeKalb History Center Historic Complex

Hours: By appointment only

Admission: Free!

The DeKalb History Center maintains three antebellum structures on West Trinity Place: the Benjamin Swanton House, the Biffle Cabin and the Thomas-Barber Cabin. In 1842 a fire in the DeKalb County courthouse destroyed most of the county’s earliest records, but these structure are known to be some of the oldest in the area. Visitors can walk the grounds to view the exteriors or make an appointment to enter the homes.

Bulloch Hall was built in Roswell in 1839 by the slaves of Major James Stephens Bulloch. It's one of Atlanta's historic home tours.
The Southern Trilogy Pass includes admission to all three Roswell homes — Bulloch Hall (pictured), Barrington Hall and Archibald Smith Plantation — for $15 to $18. Photo by Josh Meister courtesy of Bulloch Hall.

Bulloch Hall

Hours: Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.

Admission: $6 to $8

Bulloch Hall was built in Roswell in 1839 by the slaves of Major James Stephens Bulloch, one of Roswell’s first settlers. The historic house is an example of Greek Revival architecture. Bulloch Hall was the childhood home of Mittie Bulloch, mother of President Theodore Roosevelt. Docent-led tours of the house are offered at the top of each hour, and a free cell phone tour is available to explore the grounds, which include gardens, slave quarters and more.

Barrington Hall

Hours: Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.

Admission: $6 to $8

In the 1830s, Barrington Hall’s builder, Barrington King, and his father, Roswell King, co-founded the colony which became Roswell. Barrington Hall was completed in 1842 and has been largely unchanged since. The seven-acre estate includes an antebellum public garden, along with numerous original outbuildings. Docents lead tours of Barrington Hall at the top of each hour with the last tour at 3 p.m.

Barrington Hall was one of the first homes in Roswell and you can take take a historic home tour of it.
Barrington Hall was one of the first homes in Roswell. Photo by Galen Parks Smith (Gsmith) courtesy of Creative Commons.

Archibald Smith Plantation Home

Hours: Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.

Admission: $6 to $8

Nestled by the Roswell Square is the Archibald Smith Plantation Home, a two-story farmhouse complete with outbuildings that was home to one of Roswell’s founding families. The home was built by slave labor in 1845. It was preserved by three generations of the Smith family and is now open to the public as a museum. Guided tours are offered at the top of each hour.

Smith Family Farm at Atlanta History Center

Hours: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

Admission: $9 to $21.50

Smith Family Farm was built in the 1840s for the family of Robert Hiram Smith, a hog farmer. There are no guided tours, but visitors can enter on their own time and explore the farmhouse, a separate kitchen out back, a dairy, blacksmith shop, smokehouse, corncrib, chicken coop and barn, as well as the vegetable, herb, field and slave gardens.

The Root House Museum

Hours: Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission: $6 to $7

The Root House was built circa 1845 for Hannah and William Root, early settlers of Marietta. Mr. Root was one of Marietta’s earliest merchants and its first druggist. Volunteer docents tell the story of the house, the Root family, and life in Marietta in the 1850s on guided tours. Outside, visitors can view the recreated kitchen and see a working 1850s cookstove. Guided tours are given as visitors arrive with the last tour offered at 2:30 p.m.

The Root House was built circa 1845 for Hannah and William Root, early settlers of Marietta.
The Root House Museum has a garden with flower beds and vegetable plots planted with plants that were available in Cobb County before 1860. Photo courtesy of Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society.

Hammonds House Museum

Hours: Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Admission: $3 to $7

Located in Atlanta’s historic West End, Hammonds House Museum is the former residence of the late Dr. Otis Thrash Hammonds, who was a prominent Atlanta physician and a passionate arts patron. The 19th century Eastlake Victorian home opened as a Museum in 1988 that prominently features art from the African Diaspora. Pre-scheduled guided tours are available for groups Wednesday through Friday, and general admission visitors can download an audio tour to learn about the home’s history and art.

The Wren’s Nest

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Admission: $6 to $9

Fans of Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit should visit The Wren’s Nest, home of author Joel Chandler Harris from 1881 until 1908. This is the place to go to learn how the upper middle class lived around the turn of the 20th century in Atlanta. The structure is a Queen Anne Victorian home featuring most of the Harris family’s original furniture and belongings. Lively docents offer walk-in tours, and storytelling takes place every Saturday at 1 p.m.

Storytelling takes place at The Wren's Nest every Saturday.
The Wren’s Nest was the home of author Joel Chandler Harris from 1881 until 1908. Photo courtesy of The Wren’s Nest.

Martin Luther King Jr. Birth Home

Hours: Daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission: Free!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home is a two-story frame Queen Anne style house that was built in 1895. It is located in the residential section of the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. King lived in the home for the first 12 years of his life. Tours of The Birth Home are led by National Park Service Rangers. Tours last 30 minutes and begin every hour. Tickets can be reserved at the Visitor’s Center at The King Center.

Margaret Mitchell House is where "Gone With The Wind" was written.
If visited within nine days of each other, one ticket to the Atlanta History Center provides entry to Margaret Mitchell House, Swan House and the Smith Family Farm. Photo of Margaret Mitchell House courtesy of Atlanta History Center.

Margaret Mitchell House

Hours: Free to $13

Admission: Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

The Margaret Mitchell House is a Tudor Revival home built in 1899. Remodeled from a single family home to apartments, Margaret Mitchell moved into the building in 1925 and lived there when she wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Gone With The Wind.” When you visit, you can learn about Mitchell before, during and after the book; about the movie; and about the film’s premiere in Atlanta. Guided tours of Apartment No. 1, which Mitchell sarcastically dubbed “The Dump,” are offered daily every half hour.

Rhodes Hall

Hours: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Admission: $4 to $20

Dubbed the “Castle on Peachtree,” Rhodes Hall was build in 1904 as the residence of Rhodes Furniture founder Amos Rhodes. Today it is a house museum, event venue and headquarters for The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Visitors can enjoy intricate details of the home, including fine woodwork, mosaic tile fireplaces, decorative finishes and art glass. There are historical, behind the scenes and luncheon tours available for varying costs. Some tours must be pre-scheduled.

Rhodes Hall is open to visitors on Saturdays.
Rhodes Hall was built in 1904 and is known as the “Castle on Peachtree.” Photo by by Diane Kirkland courtesy of Rhodes Hall.

Herndon Home

Hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission: $7 to $10

Herndon Home was the residence of Alonzo Herndon, who rose from slavery to leadership in the African-American business community. The 15-room beau arts classical style home was built in 1910 and is an example of upper income dwellings in the early 1900s. The home opened as a tour museum in 1983 to showcase the significance of the Herndon Family and the historical context in which the family lived and worked. Guided tours are offered at the top of each hour with the last tour of the day at an hour before closing.

Herndon Home is open for tours Tuesday and Thursday.
The formally-composed Herndon Home building is constructed with multi-colored brick and features a two-story entry portico supported by Corinthian columns. Photo courtesy of the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation.

Callanwolde

Hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., And By Appointment

Admission: $5 to $10

Callanwolde was built in 1920 by Charles Howard Candler, eldest son of The Coca-Cola Company founder Asa Griggs Candler. The 12-acre estate is located in the Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta and contains a magnificent 27,000-square-foot Tudor Revival style mansion, lush gardens and several outer buildings. The home now serves as a fine arts center, but guided and self-guided tours with various themes are available.

Swan House at Atlanta History Center

Hours: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

Admission: $9 to $21.50

Built in 1928, Swan House is a classically styled mansion that sheds light on life in Atlanta in the 1920s and ’30s. The home was built for the Edward H. Inman family, heirs to a cotton brokerage fortune. Tours are self-guided, but visitors can interact with staff members scattered throughout the home who portray the people who lived and worked there.

Swan House is open for tours daily.
The Swan House is a classically styled mansion built in 1928 that’s open for touring at the Atlanta History Center. Photo courtesy of Atlanta History Center.

Visit the Museums Section of Atlanta PlanIt for more events related to Atlanta’s history.

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