Our Town: Roswell Social club keeps up with neighbors, community issues

Credit: Credit: H.M. Cauley for the AJC

Credit: Credit: H.M. Cauley for the AJC

About eight years ago, a disconcerting fact struck Joanne Carlton: It had been too long since she’d seen, let alone interacted, with some of her neighbors.

The 21-year resident of Roswell’s historic mill area believes she knew why the disconnect was happening.

“We are not a subdivision; we are not an active adult community,” she said. “But not many of us have kids, so there’s no carpooling or connections through school.”

Carlton talked to some of her neighbors about ways to have more contact, and the idea they came up with turned into the Roswell King Social Club, named with a nod to the town’s founder. One Wednesday each month, homeowners who live in the area’s restored mill houses, infill properties and historic Bricks townhouses get together at a resident’s home for what’s supposed to be just two hours of conversation and catching up.

“The idea was that we’d meet from 6 to 8 p.m. then go out for dinner,” said Carlton. “But what usually happens is everyone keeps talking, and there’s so much food, there’s no reason to have dinner.”

Since the gatherings began, the club has grown to include 45 couples. And though the objective is strictly friendly conversation, the talk often turns to issues surrounding the historic district whose roots date back to the days before the Civil War.

“It’s become a very hot area,” said Carlton. “The Roswell ghost tours come down our street on the way to the old cemetery here. You can walk to the restaurants and art galleries around the square from here. So sometimes we do talk about things that are impacting the community.”

The meetings also afford neighbors the chance to peek inside some of the area’s charming homes. Many of those structures were cottages for the workers of the Roswell Mill, which operated alongside Vickery Creek until the mid 1970s.

Kathleen White and her husband, Dennis, have opened their home to the club on several occasions, so while neighbors were nibbling on hors d’oeuvres, they’ve been able to check out the restoration work the couple did to turn an 1853 cottage into their primary residence, complete with the original heart pine floors, exposed ceiling beams and a massive stone fireplace in what is now the dining room .

“My husband bought this as an office in 1998, but from 2006 to 2008, we turned it into a home,” said White. “And we’ve hosted the club many times. It’s a great, fun group.”

Through the social interactions, neighbors have realized there are local issues they need to address, and civic involvement may be stronger because of the group. But that’s not the main focus, Carlton insists.

“We do keep current, but we’re not a homeowners’ association that’s going to gripe about people’s lawns,” she said. “The goal is just to be social.”

Each Saturday, we shine a spotlight on a local neighborhood, city or community. To suggest a place for us to visit, e-mail H.M. Cauley at hm_cauley@yahoo.com or call 770- 744-3042.110913