Tag Archives: dekalb

east atlanta’s old new money

ZJ collage

I’m not actually a fan of Neoclassical Revival houses. They all seem rather gaudy to me, bawdy even, built, not out of the frontier earth that raised many an antebellum classical revival house, but from turn-of-the-century “new south” and “new money.” They are the forerunners of today’s McMansions and that, for sure, is nothing to be admired. Our class is studying architectural details and interior design, and looking at the outside, I fully expected open spaces and white paint, elaborately carved details. Inside, however, was more typical of the time period (built in 1906), the craftsmanship beamed. Mr. Zuber, it turns out was in the lumber industry and the interior is a blend of classical arches and arts and crafts styles that blend, though not seamlessly, very well. All this woodwork has been stained, making the interior dark and cozy, glowing warmly in the lamplight. The couple who owns the house now is neither Zuber nor Jarrell (the family that lived in the house since the middle of the 20th century and keeps up ties with the place), and they have been living in major work-in-progress since they began in 2003. Mostly working room by room, the dining room and front hall are the primary storage areas though many of the interior walls exhibit layers of peeled wallpaper and painted plaster, fruits of J’s labor.

It turns out I would love to live here, open up all the windows of the breakfast room, sleep on the sleeping porch above while that East Atlanta breeze rustles the pecans, and sipping cocktails with friends on the open, vine-covered side porch before a lovely dinner in the pink and green 80s floral wallpapered dining room (might have to redo that).

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an unexpected haul

haul

The purpose of the trip to the Antebellum Plantation at Stone Mountain was to choose and take notes on 4 houses there to write on comparing and contrasting the architecture, interior design and furnishings, but when V and J texted me that they were coming down off the mountain, i was standing in the middle of a bunch of green beans (bush beans) adding them to my bag by the handful.

I didn’t in fact neglect my duties in the realm of Historic Preservation class project, I had seen most of the houses already, the Kingston House, ca. 1845; the Doctor’s Cabin, ca. 1826; the Slave Cabins (which claim to be mostly original but appear to have mostly been rebuilt); the barn and farmyard (which also had several medicinal plants found in the woods labeled and explained); and the Thornton House, ca. 1784 where someone had thrown some fava beans in the formal front yard, the beans had the plague but the plants looked good! and i learned later that peanut plants look just like fava bean plants but lower and bushier. Finally i came to the Cookhouse from whence i stepped out into the kitchen garden of the big house (Dickey House) and there i immediately made a new friend.

As i stood in awe of the vegetables grown in large beds in a geometric plan of walks (which, based on my research last semester i would say is inaccurate but wonderful), one of the groundskeepers walked up eager to show me around. First, look at that artichoke! “But then this is probably my favorite,” and he pointed to the purple corn flower that so many of us Southerners love. Then, have I ever eaten raw corn?? yes, i have and i like it, well you have to try this, you want to take some home with you? how many? ok, here, and here’s one to eat now. check out my cantaloupe and these are gourds, this guy gave me the seeds with a picture, they’re beautiful, like a green apple with all this autumn coloring painted on. What else do you want? eggplant? the tomatoes aren’t quite ready yet. squash? (got six at home thanks though!), broccoli? yes, that’s not going to last much longer is it? isn’t it funny how these cabbage all made such nice heads and those on that end just bolted, i can’t figure it out. have some peppers, and there’s tons of beans, go ahead and pick some to take home, get another bag!

picking corn artichoke blooms

So I did, and then he hid my haul for me under a cloth on the porch of the kitchen and i went to photograph and read about the Dickey Plantation house, after first being shown around the outside and the proper “front” … but that’s for the other half of the story.