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Smith Plantation Home: Step Back In Time

See the 1840's Smith Plantation Home in Historic Roswell, just as it was 150 years ago, with original furnishings inside and 12 outbuildings including barn, corn crib, kitchen, carriage house and old well.
Step back in time, to a period of the Old South fondly remembered, when the white of the cotton blossoms could be seen for miles, swaying in the cool Southern breezes. Listen to hear the native brown thrashers, and watch for the white petals of the Cherokee rose climbing wildly on the old fence.
Look sharply through the tall oaks and you'll spot the old plantation home of Archibald Smith, standing as majestically as it has stood since 1845. The home was built a mile north of what was then the blossoming town square of a little mill town known as Roswell, Georgia. Archibald Smith came here to escape the summer heat and insects of coastal Georgia, bringing his wife, children, and 36 servants to help them run a 300-acre plus plantation.
Today, this plantation home and its 12 outbuildings are perfectly preserved. The property and its contents have been kept intact by descendants of the Archibald Smiths, so visitors are seeing the original furnishings that date back to 1833-1880.
Examine the original well that furnished water for the house. You'll see how open hearth cooking was done in a separate kitchen building, where food was prepared in old iron cooking pots and brought to the main house.
You'll marvel at the home itself, which contains a treasury of fine antiques, including the 1833 piano in the parlor that the Smiths had crated up and moved to Valdosta, Georgia when they fled the Yankee invasion of Roswell during the War Between The States. Over the mantle, since that war, has hung the engraving titled "The Burial of Latane", depicting the burial of a confederate soldier on a southern plantation, a remembrance of the oldest son the Smiths lost in the war.
The upstairs hall parlor and four bedrooms are on view. They contain numerous walnut and mahogany marble-topped chests and washstands, magnificent armoires and a spool, canopy bed that is original to the home.
In the dining area, view the banquet-sized walnut dining table, original to the house, and an Empire, crotch mahogany sideboard dating about 1860. The house had neither electricity nor gas until the 1940's.
In the downstairs library, you'll see Archibald Smith's walnut plantation desk dating back to 1840, in a setting of floor-to-ceiling books from that era. In the hallway is a blue, balloon-back settee, circa 1870-75 believed to have its original upholstery.


In the late 1830's, Archibald Smith left his two plantations in St. Marys, on the South Georgia coast, and brought his family to the Roswell area, later to settle on some 300 acres of farmland north of the Town Square. The home he built was a plantation home, a two-story, unpainted structure with a one-story front porch roof, isolated by cotton farmland from the fine town homes.
He and his wife, Anne Magill, were a religious couple and became charter members of the Roswell Presbyterian Church. They were also devout Southerners and loyal to the cause of the confederacy. The oldest son, Willie, died as a Confederate soldier. The family never recovered from his death and references to him appear over and over in the family papers. There were three other children - Archie the youngest son, and two daughters, Helen and Elizabeth. The children were musical and artistic ... some paintings by the sisters still hang in the house.
In 1940, Atlanta architect Arthur Smith, grandson of Archibald Smith, and his wife Mary Norvell, decided to renovate the old plantation home as a weekend retreat. They found the furnishings intact as they had been left by the two generations of Smiths who had resided there. It was like going back in time with most of the furnishings dating between 1833 and 1880. Nothing had been discarded.
Mary Smith "raised the roof" on the old front porch to make it two-story and added columns, more in keeping with the town homes built in that period near the square. Mrs. Smith made the home her private residence after her husband died and lived there the rest of her life.
Upon her death in 1981, she willed the home and land to her niece and nephew, Mr. & Mrs. James L. Skinner, Jr. Mr. Skinner and his four sons had every item in the home documented and catalogued.
What this well-to-do 19th century farm family did not realize when they constructed their Roswell home in the mid-1800's was that it would be preserved with all its furnishings by their descendants to someday be viewed by thousands of people as an untouched treasure from a world of over 150 years ago.