Name: Swan House
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Ticket Prices: -
Dreaming of Castles ~ By Toni ~
Some of the castles in America are big and some are small, but regardless
of their size they all have a magical presence upon entering. Just to
envision them in their current day, bustling with activity, oh, to be a
fly on the wall! Sadly, that is not possible, so a bit of imagination is
necessary to be transported back in time, to absorb the magnificence of
these elegant homes.
This trip will take us to Atlanta, Georgia to explore Swan House the
“empty nest retirement home” of Edward and Emily Inman who at the ages of
46 moved into their then, unnamed home in 1928. An heir to a cotton
brokerage fortune, Mr. Inman was an Atlanta businessman with a wife and
two sons, Hugh and Edward.
Philip Trammell Shutze, an architectural graduate of Georgia Tech, who
went on to study European Architecture five additional years in Italy,
was selected to be the architect for their building project. Due to his
extended studies in Rome, the house adopted an Italian classical style
with all the modern comforts including central heat, indoor plumbing and
a telephone. The home took two years to build and cost $106,000 which Mr.
Inman paid for in cash, during a time when the average house cost $2,000.
Mrs. Inman admired swans which is quite noticeable throughout the
Your entrance through the back door will be the same, as all others who
have gone before you. However, at first glance of the rear exterior, you
would never suspect it was the back of the dwelling. The house is quite
impressive with four huge columns and the surrounding grounds. Once
inside, the hand cut black and white Italian marble floor with a star
motif grabs your attention leading you further into the entrance hall
with a captivating free standing spiral staircase which is positioned
directly in front of the main doors. This, may explain why the rear door
is the main entrance. Notice the heating ducts which are cleverly
disguised amidst the square floor tiles.
All throughout the house it is very unmistakable of Mr. Shutze's desire
for symmetry and balance, nearly every room has twin arches or doors with
one leading to another room or outdoors, while the other is used only for
a balanced appearance in the room.
The Library houses the most expensive item in the home, which is the
elaborate fireplace mantel carved from linden wood. I mentioned that one
amenity was the telephone. Well, they had just one, and it lived in the
telephone closet just outside the library. Around the corner is a much
brighter space, The Living Room, which is a delightful light green with
carved swans at the top of the columns beside the fireplace. The Formal
Dining Room is the largest room and is quite colorful with hand painted
Chinese style wallpaper covered in birds and trees. An interesting detail
that was pointed out by the docent, was a bird attached with glue to this
expensive hand painted wallpaper. When examined closely it appears his
tail could put him in flight. It is suggested this might be the handiwork
of the grandchildren? Both sides of the house offer matching screened in
porches, which presents many opportunities to enjoy the scenery and the
great weather afforded by the south.
Up the grand walnut staircase await four bedrooms. Mrs. Inman's
colorfully wallpapered bedroom leads to my “must see” room which is her
private bath. It is quite eye catching in various vibrant colors from the
floor to a special swan painted ceiling, which encompass the walk through
closet en route to the facilities. She believed that showers were the
modern item of the day, so that is what she had, the only existing
bathtub is located in the guest bath. The marble shower had a spare
faucet handle called a Tester, which was used to test the temperature of
the water with a foot. Once again Mr. Shutze's design with symmetry are
quite dominant. The garden view from the bath window is picturesque and
could be enjoyed in all seasons.
One neat “bit” of trivia would be that Mrs. Inman did not allow the staff
or family members to use the main staircase as she did not want it to get
worn out, so all were required to take the back servant's staircase. And
the second “bit” was the story that she gave her grand children stock for
Christmas one year and the children were not too impressed as the gift
was “just paper”. Which leads me to the tale behind the stock … Once
there was a cough syrup filled with codeine. Eventually, the codeine was
removed and today, you know the syrup as, Coca-Cola. As for the stock -
well that's a bit of history in itself.
Mr. Inman only got to enjoy their home for three years before passing
away. Mrs. Inman continued to live there with family until her death in
1965. Prior to passing, she had arranged to sell the property to the
Atlanta History Center for $500,000 for the home, furnishings and
surrounding twenty some acres. Later the home was named Swan House due to
Mrs. Inman's fascination with the graceful creatures that were so
abundant inside the home. Currently, Swan House is undergoing restoration
both inside and out.
Swan House is located on the Atlanta History Center Campus along with the
1800's Tullie Smith Farm, and the quite impressive Atlanta History
Museum, which are additions around the original Swan House property.
For more information: swanhouse.htm