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Information on Host City and Meeting Highlights
City Rich in History Has Preserved Much of Its Past
Psychiatric News
Volume 40 Number 4 page 25-25

For those who have ever wondered what it was like to live and work on a 19th-century southern farm or how the events of 1864 shaped the outcome of the Civil War, the Atlanta History Center is the place to head for answers.

The center features a number of exhibitions, and on its grounds stand two historic homes and 33 acres of woods and gardens.

Through its exhibitions, visitors can trace Atlanta's history from its origins in the 1800s as a rail terminus to today's bustling metropolis, learn about the evolution of folk art and music in the area, and discover how two major wars shaped Atlanta.

The sheer enormity of the Metropolitan Frontiers exhibit is inspiring—it allows visitors to explore almost 8,000 square feet of the artifacts, period clothing, furniture, maps, and documents that characterized Atlanta throughout its history.

The exhibit reaches back to the early to mid-1800s, when the northwestern region of Georgia was inhabited by Cherokee Indians, and Atlanta was a frontier town ripe for the arrival of the Western & Atlantic Railroad.

On display are Native-American artifacts and copies of Atlanta's first newspapers, such as the Atlanta Intelligencer.

Also included is a "shotgun house," which was moved from its original location in southwest Georgia. An African-American house design, shotgun houses date back to the early 1800s and were usually one room wide by two or three rooms deep. They are found in both rural and urban southern areas.

Another distinctive exhibit piece is a fire engine without the flashing lights and sirens—this one was built in 1898 and drawn by horses. Though it now seems antiquated, it helped extinguish Atlanta's "Great Fire" of 1917 in which structures along 50 city blocks were destroyed, including 400 homes.

War aficionados will flock to two exhibits that focus on the Civil War and World War II. Some of the exhibits include period military garb, weapons, bullet-proof armor, and a two-mouthed canteen.

The history center even has something to offer golf lovers—an exhibit on Bobby Jones, a professional golfer from Atlanta who won 13 major tournaments between 1923 and 1930.

Music and art lovers will enjoy an exhibit that traces the evolution of folk art and music in the Southeastern United States. "Folk Arts in a Changing South" includes more than 500 handcrafted pieces of pottery, colorful quilts, and musical instruments.

Those who want to conduct their own research into the history of Atlanta and the South will find what they are looking for in the James G. Kenan Research Center library and archives, which houses 3.5 million historical items including books, photographs, gay and lesbian historical literature, and rare maps and paintings.

Behind the history center stands the Tullie Smith Farm, featuring a two-story farmhouse built in 1845 and moved to its present location in 1972. Docents in period costume show visitors what it was like to live on a 19th-century farm in Atlanta.

For those who are curious about how Atlanta's wealthy families lived, a tour of Swan House is in order. Swan House, also located on the center's grounds, was built in 1928 for real-estate magnate Edward Hamilton Inman, the patriarch of a well-known Atlanta family. The mansion, designed by renowned Atlanta architect Philip Trammell Shutze, features at least one swan emblem or decoration in each room, and in front of the mansion are a pair of cloverleaf fountains, a terraced lawn, and a stone wall.

For nature lovers, the center boasts 33 acres of gardens and woods, including a rhododendron garden; the Cherry Sims Asian American Garden, where Satsuki azaleas grow; and a quarry garden enclosed in a three-acre wooded area that is home to hundreds of plant species.

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The Swan House reopened to the public in May 2004 after a five-year, $5.5 million restoration project. The mansion is named for the swan motif found throughout its many rooms.  Photo by Joan Arehart-Treichel

Visitors can refuel at the history center's Coca-Cola Café, which features a recreation of a 1950s soda fountain.

The Atlanta History Center is located at 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW. More information about the center and the Kenan Research Center is posted online at<www.atlantahistorycenter.com>.

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The Swan House reopened to the public in May 2004 after a five-year, $5.5 million restoration project. The mansion is named for the swan motif found throughout its many rooms.  Photo by Joan Arehart-Treichel

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