Friday, June 23, 2017

The royalty of Rhodes Hall

Photos courtesy of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, except where noted
Also known as Le Rêve (“The Dream”) and the “Castle on Peachtree,” Rhodes Memorial Hall at 1516 Peachtree St. NW in Atlanta realizes that “castle in the air” and “your home is your castle” living situation that dominated many of our childhood reveries. Built in 1904 for $50,000 as the residence of Amos Giles Rhodes, proprietor of Rhodes Furniture in Atlanta, this robust granite mansion was designed by Willis F. Denny II in a Romanesque Revival style inspired by the German Rhineland castles Rhodes idolized while traveling in Europe in the late 1890s. 

Its granite towers and battlements, mahogany woodwork, murals, parquet floors, tile mosaics and stained glass reflect Rhodes’ standing as one of Atlanta’s wealthiest citizens. Born in Kentucky in 1850, he opened his furniture store locally, expanded it to 35 Southeastern cities, and continued to run it until his death in 1928. The mahogany is from the West Indies, and the granite was quarried at Stone Mountain, 25 miles east of Atlanta. Fascinated by the new technology, he electrically wired his home with 300 lightbulbs, multiple call buttons for servants, and an advanced security system.

The arched, columned porch with coffered ceiling is an “outdoor room” in itself.
The porch introduces the tall, dark and handsome reception hall with
mosaic-tiled fireplace, mirrored mahogany mantel, picturesque
nature murals, and carved mahogany staircase.
Regally rising above the stair are three stained-glass window
triptyches designed by the Von Gerichten Art Glass Company,
winner of four gold medals at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition,
a.k.a. the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904.
The windows depict the Confederacy’s rise and demise, from its firing
on Fort Sumter to its surrender at Appomattox. These scenes no doubt
inspired Margaret Mitchell's background research for Gone with the
in the house when it held the Georgia State Archives.
The Louis XV-styled parlor is embellished with high columns, scrolled
brackets, ornate ceiling, cascading crystal chandelier, silken damask
panels, and a bow window with fanspread arches and paneled pilasters.
Photo courtesy of History Atlanta

Photo courtesy of Atlanta History Center
If you’re inclined, go up to the roof and observe how the neighborhood has changed over 111 years. Built on 114 acres of land stretching across Tanyard Creek, Rhodes Hall was comparable to Tara from Gone with the Wind in southern plantation elegance and expanse. Most of that land is now taken over by modern office buildings and the Brookwood Interchange of I-75/85. As a holdout from the period when such stately homes lined Peachtree Street before most gave way to urban progress, Rhodes Memorial Hall memorializes an era that “is no more than a dream remembered. A civilization gone with the wind,” as the movie’s opening titles read.

Photo courtesy of the Georgia Archives
It remains because Amos Rhodes’ heirs deeded his home and an acre of his land to the state of Georgia for use for “historic purposes.” It housed the Georgia State Archives from 1930 to 1965, then became the Peachtree Branch of the Archives. In 1983, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation leased Rhodes Hall from the state, restoring it as a historic house museum and their home.  
Rhodes Memorial Hall is also a popular venue for weddings, wedding receptions and bridal showers, particularly its “Cupid at the Castle” 15-minute weddings on Valentine’s Day, where up to 20 pre-registered couples exchange vows for a $200 donation that benefits the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. 

For more information on Rhodes Memorial Hall, call 404-881-9980, or visit the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, 233 Peachtree Street, 404-521-6600.

Thank you for visiting. I welcome your comments!

1 comment:

  1. A very informative and interesting article. Oh my, how Atlanta has changed!