Friday, February 18, 2011

The Southern Trilogy: Barrington Hall

Barrington Hall
"A Southern Trilogy: The Historic Homes of Roswell" tells the tale of the founding of Roswell, Georgia. Three historic homes tell us a lot about the first families to settle the town and how they lived. While there are technically six founders of Roswell, there are three homes on the Southern Trilogy tour.

This post, the first of three, is about Barrington Hall.

I'll cover the logistics that are common to all three houses first and then move on to the house that is the topic of this particular post.

Roswell, Georgia, was founded by six families headed by Barrington King (of Barrington Hall); James S. Bulloch (of Bulloch Hall); Archibald Smith (of Smith Plantation); John Dunwoody; Nathan A. Pratt; and Elizabeth King Hand.

Barrington Hall
First, each home has a strict photography policy. You may make photographs of the exterior of the home only if they are for personal use. Photos of the interior are not permitted. Photos for commercial use require a permit (paperwork may be obtained at any of the homes), which costs $100. NOTE: Please do not use photos in this post for publication, anywhere…thank you (for keeping me policy-compliant).

Guided tours are offered for each home. Self-guided tours are not available. Tours at each home start on the hour between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., with the last tour beginning at 3:00 p.m.

Work Yard
Work Yard
A rather unique feature offered at each of the Trilogy homes, one that I like very much, is "cell phone audio tours" of the home grounds. If you arrive after the guided tour starts, this is a wonderful option for exploring the grounds while waiting for the on-the-hour guided tour.

Signs are posted around the property with the dail-in number and location code. If you explore the grounds following your guided tour of the home, you can pick up a map of the audio tour stops inside the home. NOTE: the audio tour is free, but your applicable personal telephone plan charges will apply (great news for those with unlimited plans).

The audio tour includes information about the tour stop, as well as "letter readings" (letters to and from house residents from years past) at many of the stops.

Want a preview of the audio tour? Dial (770) 225-2457 (use that number for each home) and press stop number "104#" at the prompt (be sure to wait for the prompt) for information about the Work Yard.

The Arrival

Barrington Hall, front porch
Barrington Hall, front porch
I arrived at Barrington Hall (approximately 20 miles/30 minutes from downtown Atlanta) at exactly 10:00 a.m. and walked briskly to the front door, hoping to have not missed the tour. The sign on the door indicated that the next tour would begin at 10:00 a.m., so I knew I'd not missed it…yeah!

I broke out my camera (the big one this time) and started making photos of the home. Moments later the front door opened and I returned to the porch.

I was greeted by Bill, the gentleman who would be my tour guide. He noticed the "big" camera (I usually use a small point-and-shoot) and asked if I was a professional photographer. I responded, "No, but I do author a travel blog."

He explained the photography policy and I countered with the fact that my blog is not monetized (I'm not selling anything), so the photos I would make fall into the "personal use" category and (really wanting to make photos) that it would be no different from someone making personal photos and posting them on Facebook.

Bill kindly made a call to confirm that it was ok (which I appreciated, as I don't want to send tourists to a destination that's going to cost them money to make keepsake photos). Cleared up, Bill graciously invited me into the home to begin our tour. ("Thank you, Bill!")

The Families

Barrington Hall
Barrington Hall
Bill first gave me some history of the founding of Roswell and Barrington's role.
Roswell King was the first to contemplate settling the area that is today Roswell, Georgia. He visited on the way to oversee coastal gold investments in Dahlonega, Georgia (the site of the "first" gold rush).

When Roswell King returned home, Darien, Georgia, approximately 60 miles south of Savannah, he shared news of the area and his son, Barrington King, became very enthusiastic about its potential.

Barrington eventually recruited five other families to move to Roswell and create a permanent settlement. In 1839, with six homes, a church, an academy, and a cotton mill, the site was named Roswell, for Barrington's father. (You'll get a LOT more history on the tour)

The house was first home to Barrington and his wife Catharine. The second generation was the Bakers and the final family to occupy the home was the Simpsons, all decedents of Barrington.

The Home (the tour)

Barrington Hall, back
Barrington Hall, back
Roswell King purchased 42 slaves in Savannah, Georgia, and brought them to Roswell to build the first homes, as well as a cotton mill and other business establishments. Slaves were also artisans, creating beautifully crafted furniture, intricate toys for the children, and works of art for the homes.

Construction on Barrington Hall was completed in 1842 and remained the home of their decedents until 2003. Today, the home belongs to the City of Roswell and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The house is beautiful and stately, inside and out.

The rooms in Barrington Hall are uniquely "interpreted" (meaning they're displayed to represent a specific theme, in this particular case a different generation) to represent a different generation of the King family lineage.

Barrington Hall
Barrington Hall
The majority of the artifacts you will see on the tour are original…they belonged to the various generations who lived in Barrington Hall. On the tour, to name a few rooms, are the entrance and hallway; parlor; dining room; kitchen; and King, Baker, and Simpson bedrooms.

While certain parts of the rooms are roped off, you're able to get quite close to many of the artifacts, but please don't touch (so many more generations may enjoy).

I'd really like to go into more detail here, but there's far too much information to covey and I'd rather give you that time back so you have more time to tour Atlanta! Just know that this historic home tour (the Trilogy, in fact) comes highly recommended by can quote me on that.

The Grounds

Ice House
Ice House
The gardens are amazing, even before spring, but I can hardly wait to go back and see everything in full bloom. You'll enjoy a winter-time visit as well…the home's interior will knock your socks off…the gardens (in another season) are a bonus after that.

Some of the grounds sites, all on the audio tour, include: Work Yard, East Garden, Site of the Original Kitchen, Smoke House, Well, Orchard, Ice House, and the West Garden.

The Ice House has three rooms. One was used for ice storage (covered with straw to slow melting), dairy storage, and bathing (where it was much cooler than inside the house in the summer).

The Return

Do I think I'll return to Barrington Hall anytime soon? I have many friends who are history buffs who have not been before and I would welcome another opportunity to explore Barrington Hall with them. The tour is one of those that you know there's so much more history than can be told in a single tour, so each tour promises to teach you something new.

Touring The Southern Trilogy: Barrington Hall

Date toured: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Location: 535 Barrington Road (directions and map)
Parking: Free onsite parking
Cost: $8 Adults; $6 Children (or $18 for all three homes)
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Sunday 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. The last tour is at 3:00 p.m.
Events: Enjoy year-round events at Barrington Hall

Glowing front porch
Glowing Front Porch

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