Agnes is very proud of the historic mansion where she lives, one of only four antebellum houses left in Atlanta.
The two-foot wide walls of the once grand home have withstood war, fire and neglect to serve as a reminder of Atlanta’s history from the 1850s to today.
The two-story stucco house with a ballroom wing was built in 1857 by an Atlanta railroad pioneer, who prospered as the city became a transportation center. In its heyday, the house presided over 600 acres southeast of the city, and the family could see the skyline of Atlanta from the second floor.
It survived the Civil War, when it was used as a hospital, because General Sherman had told his men not to burn the belongings of fellow Masons and his troops found the owner’s Masonic apron in the attic. Almost 20 years later, its philanthropic owner donated 100 acres of his property to the city for a public park.
In 1902, the house was the birthplace of golf legend Bobby Jones who later moved to East Lake and into the golf history books. When the house fell on hard times in the 1940’s, Margaret Mitchell tried to save the Grand Old House as a city museum, but died before she was successful.
After it is restored by the Atlanta Preservation Center, Agnes will be the mistress of a house that will once again become a centerpiece for its historic neighborhood and a resource center for the city.
Where does Agnes live?
Called the Grant Mansion, Agnes’ home was built by Lemuel Pratt Grant, Atlanta pioneer, railroad magnate, and city philanthropist. He came to Atlanta as a civil engineer to work on the Georgia Railroad in 1840. During the next 50 years, he helped make Atlanta a thriving railroad hub.
In 1843, Grant invested in land in what is now southeast Atlanta, paying from 75 cents to two dollars an acre, and built his home in the center of the property. He donated 100 acres southeast of his mansion to the city in 1883 for a park, so children would have a place to play and adults a chance for rest and peace from their daily routine.
Grant also gave land on Jenkins Street for Bethel Church, Atlanta’s first black church. Worshippers used the church until it was destroyed by fire in 1864 when the city was burned by Federal troops. After the Civil War, the land was taken from the black congregation, but Grant ordered it returned, and the members built a new church on the site.
Grant joined the Confederate Army in 1862 and as chief engineer designed the defensive fortifications of timber-reinforced earthen walls fronted by trenches and punctuated with artillery emplacements. A portion of them survives today in nearby Grant Park at Fort Walker.
After the Civil War, Grant worked hard to enhance life in his adopted city. He served as a member of the Atlanta City Council, Water Commission, and Board of Education. In addition to giving the land for Grant Park, he sold the land for a public hospital where Grady Hospital now stands, selling it below market value and contributing thousands of dollars.
When Grant died in 1893, he was recognized as one of Atlanta’s “best friends, one of her noblest citizens, and one of her chief benefactors”. Agnes is proud of her antebellum home and the man who contributed so much to her city.
Research and Background Provided by:
Atlanta Preservation Center
327 St. Paul Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia 30312
Midge Yearley, Director of Marketing and Membership
Atlanta History Center
130 West Paces Ferry Road, N.W.
Atlanta, Georgia 30305
Contact: Hillary Hardwick, Public Relations Manager