This week my girls and I decided to take my mama up to Ballground, GA to Gibbs Garden for the Monet Water Lillies exhibit. We jumped in the car and headed up the road! An hour into the trip we began to notice signs advertising the gardens and a random thought popped into my mind, “What if they are closed today? Crap! I didn’t check!” Julia pulled up the site and yep: closed. Ugh! I pulled the car over and began a search for something to do in the area. I wasn’t certain exactly where we were but knew we were already OTP (Outside the Perimeter – of Atlanta).
Lesson Learned: Always check hours of operation BEFORE scheduling a day trip!
My mom likes beautiful houses, gardens, churches, and anything of historical relevance. Olivia likes beauty and art deco. Julia is usually “along for the ride” and while the aforementioned does not interest her, she is accommodating and doesn’t complain (and I bribed her with a trip to Cabbagetown). I chose the Atlanta Historical Society’s Swan House.
You may recognize the Swan House, as the home of President Snow in “The Hunger Games“. As part of the Georgia film industry, the series was filmed around the Atlanta including this location.
Today, the film crews are gone and the house isn’t a gaudy shade of purple. It looks much like it did in the 1920’s when it was built for Edward and Emily Inman by architect Philip Trammell Shutze, whose art collection is now on exhibit at the home.
Here you can step back in time to the Jazz Age during the roaring 20’s. Named for the swan theme that is found throughout the interior of the home, The Swan House is a representation of wealth in an age just before the Great Depression
Interesting fact: The picture above is actually the back of the house, where you enter during tour. Coaches and cars carrying guests entered from the back of stately homes. The front of the house always had large gardens.
The black and white marble floor embraces you as you enter through the grand doors to an impressive entry foyer decorated as it was during the time of music, speakeasy’s, dance and indulgence. We strolled the rooms of the dramatically opulent home taking in the art deco motif which features swans. Golden light fixtures adorn the walls and carved wooden fireplaces embellish each room. This is the sort of house that we would love to live in, and it was Emily Inman’s dream home, built for her by a loving husband. In every detail, he had the family in mind, and tragically just three years after it was complete, Edward Inman passed away at the age of 49. Emily raised her family here and live here until her death in 1966 when she left it to the Atlanta Historical Society.
Along with fantastic architectural design check out the skills of Athos Menaboni, who decorated Mrs. Inman fantastic dressing room and Herbert J. Milard who crafted the bookshelves, fireplaces and other carvings throughout the home (look up as you enter the study and see the carved flowers on the ceiling.)
While visiting the home you may “meet” some interesting characters: Mrs. Emily Inman, who is poised and elegant, Emma Jean, the family’s fateful maid, Ruby Ross Wood, the lively, interior decorator, Mr. Edward Inman who will relish in telling you about racing in his motor car, and Mr. Grant Carter the lovable family chauffeur. Grant and Edward were known to race the vehicle on display in the back of the home where you enter. Ask one of them about the grandeur of racing a car at top speeds of 45 miles per hour! Mr. Inman held several racing records during this time and auto racing in the late 20’s was insanely dangerous, but this is not what killed him. It appears the lavish lifestyle took a toll on his heart.
On a historical note: The Inman family were known for their philanthropy and were key to the development of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Agnes Scott College, and Oglethorpe University. The Inmans also supported the founding of the Atlanta orphanage and Grady Memorial Hospital.
The home has three gardens. The largest a baroque garden is situated at the front of the home on a landscaped lawn. A large gate marks the entry of the home followed by 3 small pools and an ivy and rose covered retaining wall. A stream runs along the edge of the yard and a gazebo sits quietly within the cover of trees and blooms.
A cascading art deco fountain, flanked by stairs, sits in splendor at the top of the lawn. You can just imagine debutants gracefully descending the stairs as gentlemen stopped discussing stocks and watched in reverence. At the top of the fountain, a horseshoe staircase complete with iron handrails gracefully leads up a flight of steps to a heavily framed central entrance door.
The boxwood garden has a pair of broken columns surmounting a garden bench and a rampant eagle.
There are 22 acres of trails leading to gardens, the Smith Family Farm and a WWII trench. Visit the Coach House where Mr. Inman parked his vehicles and is now a restaurant. There is a cafe in the Atlanta History Museum as well. We opted to walk over to Smoke Belly for some fantastic BBQ.
The all-inclusive general admission ticket includes access to the Atlanta History Museum, the 1860s era Smith Family Farm property, the 1928 Swan House mansion, and 22 acres of gardens. Plus, admission to the Margaret Mitchell House, is included if visited within 9 days of Atlanta History Center. Ticket prices are $21.50/Adult, $18.00/Senior or Student, $9.00/Child 4-12.
If you are crossing off filming locations in Atlanta. Be sure to hit the Swan House. There is a room dedicated to the filming of The Hunger Games.
Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!
Fran, the girls, and Mama
- Thank you to the Atlanta History Center for information regarding the Swan House and the Inman family.
- Also thank you to Tammy H. Galloway, and GeorgiaEncyclopia.com for information regarding the Inman family.
- All photos are mine except the back entrance and garden and the photo of The Swan House decorated for the Hunger Games.