Looking For Tara — Historical Homes

This is my Granny. You would have loved her house.

Southerners love their homes.  Be it small, large, new or old, we feel a connection to the place we rest our heads. “The old home place” is where our Daddy’s Daddy’s Daddy grew up.  It is where we have the picnics under the oaks and know where all the dogs are respectfully buried.

The Howell –  Sessions House, Marietta, Georgia, ca 1851
photo by Jim Divitale

The old homes are cherished, or at least we hope they are. Some were simple country dwellings, while others were quite grand in design.  People in Mobile, as in other historic cities, can tell gut wrenching  tales of bulldozers brashly ripping through beautiful houses to make way for . . . a Taco Bell.

Two excellent books that celebrate the beauty of the Southern home are on my bookshelf.  Although the books themselves are works of art, I have to tell you I am somewhat partial to them anyway, because they were written by two dear friends.  Both authors took years and years to research and document every detail.  It was truly a labor of love.

The books focus on aspects of historical homes in Georgia, and I know many of my readers live in the Peach State, or have ties to it.  But even if you aren’t from Georgia, who doesn’t like looking at a big ‘ole fancy house with a good story to go along?

“Marietta The Gem City of Georgia” by Douglas Frey, explores the beautiful old homes of Marietta.  An enormous amount of detail regarding the original construction, the families who lived there, and renovations are included along with stunningly beautiful photographs by Jim DiVitale.

The fifty houses featured in the six and half pound (!!!!) book were built between the years 1838 – 1949. Douglas and his wife Rachel, (my dearest, most talented friend) have painstakingly restored a 125 year old Victorian home themselves, and know every detail of pediments, window sashes, porches, and authentic historical colors for houses than anyone else could ever know.

The second book by Michael Kitchens, takes a different spin on older homes, and features stories and details on ninety-four antebellum homes that once stood grand, but are now erased from the land. “Ghosts of Grandeur, Georgia’s Lost Antebellum Homes and Plantations” reads like a collection of novelettes with long lost photos accompanying every tragic story.

Mike has done enough research to qualify for multiple doctorates in history, architecture and general old-house-ology. Time and indifference are proven to have taken their toll on once beautiful residences, and Mike somehow brings each story to life with his amazing attention to detail.

I’m still feverishly reading, trying to find out what happened to my Great-Great-Great-Grandmother Scarlett’s house, Tara!  It’s got to be in there somewhere!

This was a beauty, but it’s no Tara.

Working full time as an attorney in Atlanta while living in Athens, Mike spent many years researching what was originally a hobby, and now plans to write supplementary books documenting other state’s lost treasured homes.  Rumor is, Alabama is next!

If you know anyone who loves beautiful, one of a kind, historic homes, architecture, or history, these books would make beautiful and treasured gifts.

To learn more about and to order “Marietta, Gem city of Georgia” click here.

To learn more about and to order “Ghosts of Grandeur, Georgia’s Lost Antebellum Homes and Plantations” click here. Mike will have a book release party in Valdosta, GA on November 30th at the Turner Center for the Arts.

Look for this gift idea at: Coastal Charm, Savvy Southern Style, Our Delightful Home, Mockingbird Hill Cottage, and A Diamond in the Stuff.

Leave a comment 13 Comments


  1. Dixie says

    Are we cousins then? ‘Cause this was my great-granny’s house!

    By the way, 148 years ago this week, Sherman marched into Atlanta, destroying as many of these beautiful mansions as he could find. Imagine the heartbreaking devastation.

  2. says

    Those look like fantastic books. I used to live in Cordele, GA — many moons ago. But never visited Marietta. Sure didn’t know it had so many beautiful old homes. I do love the historical side of learning about them. Best wishes, Tammy

  3. says

    I’m popping in from Claudia’s “A Favorite thing Saturday”!
    “Gone with the Wind” is one of my all time favorite movies, so I am enthralled by your post.
    I would love to read these books and hope I can order them through my library too.
    Shane ♥

  4. Anonymous says

    Thanks for your post. I have now read both of these books and they were both compelling reads. What fascinating inforamtion and the photographs are stunning.

  5. Rachel says

    The first printing of Marietta: The Gem City is almost sold out — so hurry to get your copy. It may be years before it’s re-printed.

  6. Judy says

    I am real interested in knowing if the book about antebellum homes in Alabama has been written yet. I grew up in Brewton, Al where we have a lot of beautiful old antebellum homes. Real interesting!


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