The inauguration of Jefferson Davis
Depiction of Stonewall Jackson at the first battle of Manassas
Robert E. Lee right before surrendering
This is, in my opinion, the most fascinating part of the entire mansion. These three painted-glass window panels were installed to depict the rise and fall of the confederacy. There was a lot of southern nationalism around this time in history as the southern surrender was approaching it’s 40th anniversary and several Confederate generals died right around this time. The first panel depicts the inauguration of Confederate president Jefferson Davis above and the Battle of Fort Sumter below. The second panel shows the Confederate victory at the First Battle of Manassas with “Stonewall” Jackson earning his nickname. Finally, the third panel depicts Confederate General Robert E. Lee saying goodbye to his soldiers right before departing to go sign the terms of surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. The level of detail of these fixtures is absolutely incredible; you can get up close and see the individual soldiers and details of their faces and uniforms. All three windows are divided by portraits of over a dozen important Confederate figures.
Window in a closet below the staircase
Finally, this last window kind of put into perspective the mindset of the architect and of Amos Giles Rhodes when this house was being designed. This window is in a small closet below the staircase and the rest of the windows and was supposed to be symbolic of taking down the Confederate Flag and storing it away in order to let go of the past while still honoring the sense of southern heritage that many southerners then and now associate with the Confederacy.
Back room on the first floor that is now used as an office
The contrast between different styles of interior decoration in the home give indication of their purpose. The grandiose front rooms (dining room, Parlor, etc.) have some paintings on the walls and ceilings or expensive wall paper and were intended to be used for entertaining guests, while this out-of-the-way back room is very sparse except for some woodwork around the door frame.
Birds-eye view of the Rhodes Center layout
Directory of stores in Rhodes Center
Another captivating chapter in the history of the Rhodes Hall came in 1937 when Atlanta’s first shopping center, Rhodes Center, was opened. It consisted of one story marble-faced store fronts running along the north, west and south perimeters of the property. In an interesting combination of private-residence-turned-government-property mixed with retail space, this is a perfect example of how the changing needs of a community affects the built environment it occupies. Today only the vacant buildings along the south side of the plot remain as a visage of the once bustling strip mall.
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The remaining south building of Rhodes Center
Vaulted Ceiling of Living Room
Painting of coastal Georgia on wall of the living room
The perimeter of the living room floor is lined with intricate patterns using woods of different shades
Stained glass above the front door
The Grand stair-case with the painted glass windows behind it.
Banister of the Grand stair-case
The first thing I noticed when walking into the house is the stained glass window above the front door bearing the overlapped letters “AGR”, the initials of Amos Giles Rhodes (which seemed slightly egotistical to me). The next thing you see after passing the threshold of the front entrance is the expansive, very open landing area/living room with exquisite woodworking on the walls and scenes from the Georgian and Floridian coast painted along the tops of the walls. The vaulted ceiling holds light bulbs in each individual square compartment which was a very novel feature for homes at the time. The room contains the large semi-circle grand staircase to the left and is topped off with a large wood burning fireplace (unique in that fact as most of the other fireplaces are coal-burning). Another impressive feature of this room is the Banister on the stair-case, which is carved into a very ornate lion with a shield displayed across it’s chest. The house had a slight antique-esque smell that is only ever authentically produced by buildings that are similar in age to this one. This smell is very much that of aging wood, something to be expected of Rhodes Hall as the interior is rife with wooden ornamentation (the most striking of which being the massive mahogany grand staircase). This earthy, postbellum atmosphere is completed by the signature creaking and protesting of the still-original floorboards as one walks across them, especially on the staircases.
Fireplace in the Parlor
Another coal-burning fireplace
Main wood-burning Fireplace
One fascinating recurring feature of this estate was the mosaic tiling around the 12 fireplaces. They all still have the original stone work and show varying degrees of age and use.
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Photo of Rhodes Hall from the intersection of Peachtree Street and South Rhodes Center
Sign Marking Rhodes Hall as Headquarters of the Georgia Trust
State of Georgia Historical Marker for Rhodes Hall
For my Interior Built Environment Description I chose the Rhodes Hall, the Late-Victorian home also known as “The Castle on Peachtree Street”. The house was built by Amos Giles Rhodes in 1904 with the fortune he amassed through his founding of the Rhodes Furniture. Rhodes decided on a Romanesque-Revival architectural style after being inspired by castles in the Rhineland during a trip to Europe, with the outer facade of the building being composed entirely of granite from Stone Mountain.
One of the first things to strike me when I saw the Rhodes Hall from the street after arriving with a few minutes to spare before my 1:00 pm tour was how out of place it looked in the modern cityscape; it’s next-door neighbor is a branch of the “EquiFax” firm with more modern office buildings and a gas station in the immediate area. It gives off an interesting “southern aristocracy” kind of atmosphere with a wrap-around porch combined with the castle architecture and courtyard style front lawn. The sounds from the exterior of the house consists mostly of the hum of traffic and pedestrians.
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Side View of Rhodes Hall
Side View of Rhodes Hall