The Georgia Trust

RHODES HALL HISTORY

Rhodes Hall, one of Atlanta’s few remaining mansions on Peachtree Street, is located just north of Pershing Point. Built in 1904, prior to the development of Ansley Park, Rhodes Hall was designed by one of Atlanta’s most celebrated young architects for one of the city’s wealthiest men. Constructed of Stone Mountain granite in the Romanesque Revival style, it holds state-wide significance for both the quality and style of its architecture.

Between 1901 and 1906, Amos Giles Rhodes assembled an estate of 114 acres on Peachtree Street at Brookwood, stretching across Tanyard Creek and including most of the present-day Brookwood Interchange at I-75/85. In early 1902, construction commenced on Rhodes’ great granite castle which he and his wife, Amanda, called “Le Reve” or “the Dream.” The home is believed to be inspired by Amos and Amanda’s travels through the German Rhineland in the 1890s. Costing nearly $50,000, the structure was finally completed in 1904 and was one of the most opulent of the large mansions overlooking Atlanta’s famous thoroughfare.

Generally described as Romanesque Revival, Rhodes Hall is virtually unparalleled in Georgia as few residential structures were ever built in this architectural style. The sheer expense of construction that required massive amounts of masonry usually limited the Romanesque styles to ecclesiastical, civic or commercial buildings. Moreover, by the time Rhodes demanded a Rhineland castle on Peachtree, the style was already out of fashion. Rather than copying the Richardsonian Romanesque of the 1880s, however, the architect Willis F. Denny II created a special example of Victorian Romanesque Revival, which adapted the medieval Romanesque style to use in the design of a 20th century house. Rhodes’ new house was an instant success in the Atlanta papers and social scene. In fact, one author has stated that “in the war of wealth and opulence waged along Peachtree Street at the time, it can probably be said that Amos Rhodes’ fortress won hands down.”

The mahogany staircase and painted glass windows are hallmarks
of Rhodes Hall.
photos by Diane Kirkland

 

The interior of Rhodes Hall is one of the finest intact expressions of late Victorian architectural design in the city. The grandest feature is a magnificent series of painted glass windows above a carved mahogany staircase. Executed by the Von Gerichten Art Glass Company, winners of four gold medals at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904, the series depicts the rise and fall of the Confederacy from Fort Sumter to Appomattox and includes medallion portraits of fifteen Confederate heroes. Certainly one of the more unusual Confederate memorials, its inclusion in a private residence built at the turn of the 20th century exemplifies the depth of feeling for the "Lost Cause" as the old heroes passed away.

Wired for electricity when it was built, Rhodes Hall is a prime example of Atlanta’s fascination with new technology at the turn of the century. Over 300 light bulbs illuminated the house, producing a blaze of light still uncommon in 1904. The house, a technological marvel in its day, also included electric call buttons in most rooms and a security system.

Original light fixtures and wall paintings inside Rhodes Hall have been beautifully restored.

 

Following the deaths of Mrs. Rhodes in 1927 and A. G. Rhodes in 1928, their two children, J. D. Rhodes and Mrs. L. O. Bricker, deeded the house and just under an acre of the original estate to the State of Georgia. Included in the deed was a restriction that the property could only be used for "historic purposes." In 1930 the building opened as the home of the State Archives and functioned as such until a more modern facility was built on Capitol Avenue in 1965. Rhodes Hall continued to serve as the Peachtree Branch of the Archives.

In 1983, The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, a non-profit organization, signed a long-term lease for Rhodes Hall with the State of Georgia. Serving as headquarters for The Georgia Trust, Rhodes Hall has undergone significant restoration. The State has funded restoration of the exterior and the building's mechanical and electrical systems while the Trust has raised private funds for restoration of the interior. The focal point of the interior restoration was the return of the original mahogany staircase and stained glass windows that had been removed to the State Archives facility on Capitol Avenue. The staircase and windows were reinstalled in Rhodes Hall in 1990.

Rhodes Hall is an outstanding survivor of Peachtree Street's heyday as Atlanta's premiere residential thoroughfare. One of the most unique architectural creations in an age known for its eccentricities, Rhodes Hall in many ways defines "la belle époque" in Atlanta.

Amos G. Rhodes situated his castle for maximum visibility on a slight rise at a prominent curve in Peachtree Street. Subsequent development, especially of Rhodes Center in the late 1930's, lessened the impact of that siting and radically reduced the size of the original estate. However, the imprint of the original landscaping is intact, and if restored, would offer considerable insight into early twentieth century residential landscaping in Atlanta. The ongoing restoration of this building and its grounds remain a perfect counterpoint to Midtown's high-rise skyline.

Read More about Rhodes Hall architecture at the City of Atlanta Urban Design Commission site. Rhodes Hall is a designated Atlanta Urban Design property.

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