Today brings our second historical house to compete for the honor of most closely resembling the Butler Mansion. Candidate number two, come on down!
Image from ATLhistory.com
Location: intersection of Peachtree and Cain streets
Better known for its role as the governor's mansion, the James residence is likely the most familiar contestant of the three to windies, as it's mentioned in direct relation to Scarlett's
architectural horror fanciful abode in Chapter XLIX of Gone with the Wind:
"...when finished, it would be larger and finer looking than any other house in town. It would be even more imposing than the near-by James residence which had just been purchased for the official mansion of Governor Bullock."
But enough GWTW quoting (yes, we love our quotes here). Follow me over the jump to find the history of the James house and its unique qualifications in the Butler Mansion resemblance sweepstakes.
The most expensive house built in Atlanta up until that point, the mansion was designed by architect W.H. Perkins for the fabulously wealthy banker (and future mayor of Atlanta) John H. James in 1869. With a price tag of $63,000, the red brick home boasted three stories set on one and a half acres, along with several other ritzy amenities:
"The ornate structure was generously endowed with balconies and dormer windows, and had a 60-foot tower. 'Magnificent' brick stables, sweeping green lawns, sparkling fountains, and a large carriage house completed the extensive establishment. The frame cottage which had previously stood on the site was moved back to the Spring Street frontage for use as a servants' house. An iron fence surrounded the entire property."--excerpted from Peachtree Street, Atlanta
Oh, and just for good measure, it also sported a greenhouse. And that's in addition to the house's ballroom and "jigsaw work on banisters and eaves" as described in GWTW. You can find plenty more pictures of the grandeur that was the Governor's Mansion at Atlanta History Center (here, here, here, and here) and ATLhistory.com.
Mr. James also shared Scarlett's love of showing off his house/throwing an elaborate party. He celebrated Christmas Eve 1869 with a large gathering at the "the finest residence in Georgia" that was open to all Atlantans. But after less than a year, he sold his lavish home to the state for use as the Governor's Mansion, home first to Governor Rufus Bullock and then 16 other governors before it was leveled in 1923 to make way for the Henry Grady Hotel.
All told, the Governor's Mansion brings a lot to the table as a contestant. It was built the year after Rhett and Scarlett's marriage and was located virtually in their backyard- the Governor's mansion was literally right next door to the Leyden house, which we know was near the Butler place. (In the aerial shot from our Leyden post, you can see the Governor's Mansion peeking out just to the right.) Like Scarlett's house with its many turrets, towers, cupolas, etc., the Governor's Mansion also showcased a veritable hodge podge of styles, featuring "Italianate details, a Dutch gable, and hints of both the Gothic and Romanesque Revivals." And, of course, MM herself weaves critical mention of it into GWTW when describing the Butler Mansion.
Its drawbacks? There's no mention of the mysterious Swiss chalet style in relation to its design. And the house also doesn't have a wrap-around veranda. Smaller points, perhaps, but still something to note.
So now you've seen two houses and it's one more to go. Thoughts at 66.6667% through the competition?