For some southern cities, it's an accomplishment to have just one home still standing that dates to the pre-Civil War era. The city of Roswell has managed to preserve three historic homes, all with roots that date back to the town's founding in the 1830s.
Today, Barrington Hall, Bulloch Hall and Smith Plantation stand as elegantly restored house museums and reminders of the city's origins. Barrington Hall was built by the town's founders, Barrington King and his father Roswell. Bulloch Hall is best known as the home of Theodore Roosevelt's mother, Mittie. And Smith Plantation, constructed by the co-founders of the Roswell mill, left behind an estate that includes corn cribs, carriage houses and servants' quarters.
Next weekend, visitors to the three historic properties will have a chance to see them in quite a different light. The Fourth Annual Trolley Crawl on Aug. 18 will turn the properties into small slices of Santa Fe, South Beach and San Francisco with themed decorations, food and beverages.
As much fun as the night will be, it's really a cleverly disguised marketing tool to get people to rub up against history, said Brandee Bryant of the city's historic and cultural affairs office.
"We wanted to find a way to reach out to those non-traditional museum-goers," she said. "During the crawl, you can see each house in a way you wouldn't typically do on a regular tour."
The Trolley Crawl has been a hit with folks across the area, regardless of their interest in history. What they're fond of is an adults-only night of food, music and fun connected by hop-on, hop-off trolley rides.
"We've tried to make it fun and unique, and it's kept some people coming back from the first year," said Bryant. "This year, we expect as many as 1,200 to attend."
Guests will see a throwback to San Francisco's hippie days at Barrington Hall, where a decked-out VW van and Ghirardelli chocolate brownies await. At Bulloch Hall, the brick terrace will be strung with lights to create an outdoor piazza in Santa Fe. The atmosphere will be enhanced by roaming flamenco dancers and a donkey who will pose for photos. Smith Plantation will transform into a slice of South Beach, complete with lounge chairs, umbrellas and cabana boys passing out entries to win a trip to the real location.
But organizers hope attendees who don't go to check out Smith Plantation's cookhouse or Bulloch Hall's collection of family china may have their curiosity piqued just enough to plan a return visit. Included in the Crawl admission is a coupon for half-off the usual entrance fee at the houses.
"We've seen increased traffic at the different homes after this event," said Bryant. "And that's the primary reason we put it on. It invites people in who might need an extra reason to come. Just throw in food, libations and roving donkeys, and people get interested."
Tickets to the 7 to 11:30 p.m. event are $40. Information: www.southerntrilogy.com; 770-641-3727./cq/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404-514-6162.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.