Marietta property has museum qualities, ‘sweetness’ of a home

Marietta was a new town when Will and Michelle Goodman’s home, Oakton, was built in the 1830s. The Goodmans continue to cherish the property’s history, architecture and artifacts while renovating and updating the home and gardens.

Oakton, which is celebrating its 175th year, sits at the base of Kennesaw Mountain and includes a boxwood garden from the 1870s, a kitchen garden and oak trees that are more than 200 years old.

“I am what I am because I grew up here,” said Will, a landscape architect.


Residents: Will and Michelle Goodman. Will owns Goodman & Associates; the couple also operates Oakton House and Gardens, which provides event planning, floral design, and site tours and educational classes on the grounds.

Location: Marietta

Size: Five bedrooms, four baths, about 6,000 square feet

Year built: 1838

Year bought: Will's grandparents bought the home in 1939. Oakton is the oldest continuously occupied residence in Marietta, according to the Goodmans. "Like any old house, it's got a lot of stories. It feels like a museum to some, but it's a home," Will said. "It's retained the sweetness that a home has."

History: The original Greek Revival structure was built by Blue Ridge Circuit Judge David Irwin. The site served as Maj. Gen. William W. Loring's CSA headquarters during the 1864 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The property originally had 325 acres (5 acres remain). Owners also included John Wilder of Savannah, who completed the famed Mercer-Williams House in Savannah and was its original owner. Four generations of Wilders lived in Oakton from 1850 to 1939, using it as their "mountain" resort getaway, Will said. "It certainly doesn't look like a mountain home that we know of these days."

Architecture: Italianate/early Victorian. Stucco was applied to the 15-inch stone and brick walls in the transformation from Greek Revival.

Renovations: The Goodmans have owned the home for 12 years, and their biggest change was to connect the original detached kitchen to the home. The dirt path between the house and kitchen became a breezeway, then a hallway, making the kitchen an integral part of the house, Will said.

Favorite architectural feature: The exterior columns. "I have never seen columns constructed like ours," Will said. "Only in Italy have I found anything quasi-close."

Interior design style: Casual, but brimming with history. Items from the past include the bed that John Wilder died in as well as a sideboard the Wilders left. Family heirlooms include portraits, the secretary and books owned by Goodman's great-grandfather Robert McAlpin Goodman, who founded The Marietta Daily Journal.

Favorite outdoor features: The property includes a barn, which was built in 1890, the original smokehouse, well house and milk house. The boxwood gardens were created by William Annandale, a Scottish gardener and the home's "farm manager" starting in 1868, and a pool and outdoor kitchen have been added. Annandale also developed the half-moon rose garden in the front of the home. In the 1960s, Goodman's grandfather turned the rose garden into a more passive garden, with a Madonna and child sculpture birdbath. The shaded area now is a lawn that hosts functions. Six square kitchen gardens in the back are defined by clipped boxwoods that line pea gravel paths, Goodman said. The property also contains three workable gardens with 25 apple trees. "When I pass away," Will said, "I want to be cremated and I wanted my ashes to be thrown on the apple trees."