Kurtz-Cummings House (1912)

394 Sinclair Avenue NE

Atlanta, Georgia 30307

 

 

 

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The house was built in 1912 in what was then Copenhill, one of Atlanta's early suburban developments. The subdivision was surveyed and platted before 1890 on land that had been the antebellum plantation of James Vickers Jones (1812-1879) and his wife Mary Elizabeth Hurt (1824-1882). In 1864, the Battle of Atlanta was fought along the railroad less than a half mile to the south, and some of the country roads from that period were incorporated into suburban development of Copenhill and Inman Park.

The house's first occupants were Wilbur G. Kurtz (1882-1967), his wife Annie Laurie Fuller (1884-1946), and their three oldest children. They lived at what was then numbered 90 Sinclair Avenue between December 1912 and the summer of 1916. A commercial artist and historian, Kurtz would later gain fame as historian for the filming of Gone With the Wind and for his numerous paintings of early Atlanta landmarks.

From 1916 until 1939, the house was home to William B. Cummings (1857-1930), his wife Eva Esther Woodward (1864-1937), and their son Harold and his family. The elder Cummings had recently retired from a decade as chief of the Atlanta Fire Department when he bought the house, and the Cummings family continued to occupy the residence until 1939 when they sold it and moved to Chattanooga.

The new residents at 394 Sinclair Avenue were James Felix Edens (1900-1974), his wife Louise (1901-1992), and their daughter Caroline. An engraver and civil engineer, Felix Edens sold the house in 1950. Much like the rest of the neighborhood, the house entered a long period of decline after that. The property changed hands three times in the early 1950s and was remodeled as an owner-occupied rooming house around 1960. By the 1970s, the old Kurtz-Cummings house was poorly maintained rental property. The yard was a sad mix of unkempt shrubberies, including massively overgrown privet hedges, and its handsome architecture was obscured by asbestos siding, aluminum awnings, and generally bad remodeling.

Beginning in December 1977, four friends began restoring the house, part of a first wave of restoration and gentrification in Inman Park. It remained my home until December 2005.

Tommy Jones, 2016

Figure 1. Google Earth view of the area, annotated with an arrow to locate 394 Sinclair Avenue. The Carter Center is at upper left, the old Bass High School at lower center, and Little Five Points business district at right.

 

Hurt-Jones Plantations

The house is located in Land Lot 15 of the 14th District, originally Henry County, now Fulton County, Georgia. First surveyed as part of the Creek cession in 1821, the area was part of the antebellum plantation of James Vickers Jones (1812-1879) and his wife Mary Elizabeth Hurt (1824-1882), who were early pioneers in what was then DeKalb County. Married in 1843, they had two children, Joel and Henry, before moving to Atlanta in the late 1840s and buying Land Lot 15, which was located near the Georgia Railroad two miles east of downtown. Containing 202½ acres, the property encompassed the sites of today's Carter Center, the northern half of Inman Park, and most of the Little Five Points business district. In 1852, they bought all of Land Lot 14 north of the railroad. In addition to the railroad, three other early roads crossed the Jones property: the Decatur Road, now DeKalb Avenue; the Turnpike Road, now parts of Euclid and Austin avenues; and Williams Mill Road, most of which is now known as Briarcliff Road.

Figure 2. Detail from Pittman's 1872 map of Fulton County, depicting the area around the Hurt-Jones plantations.

In 1854, the Joneses sold most of their property in Land Lot 14 to her brother George Troup Hurt (1825-1901). Two years later, their brother Augustus Fletcher Hurt (1830-1921) bought all of Land Lot 15, "being the place of farm upon which the said James V. and Mary E. Jones now reside." Exactly where their house was located has not been documented, but they may very well have built the wood-framed house that stood at the highest point in the land lot and was used as Sherman's headquarters during the Battle of Atlanta. By 1860, the Joneses had returned to Birdsville, his family home in Burke County, where the census showed him with over $50,000 in real estate and nearly $60,000 in personal wealth, much of that sum in slaves. The reason for their move is not known.

On 22 July 1864, the Hurt and Jones farms became the site for some of the fiercest fighting during the great Battle of Atlanta. Several historical markers in the neighborhood, including one in Springvale Park and one in Delta Park, outline some of the details of that terrible afternoon, and the entire district is included in the Cyclorama's depiction of the battle. In 1885, the German artists who created the painting sketched the landscape from atop a forty-foot tower that was erected for them at the southeast corner of Moreland Avenue and the railroad. Many natural features, such as the ravine that became Springvale Park, still exist and some of the country lanes in the painting are now city streets within the district.

General Sherman used Augustus Hurt's house as his headquarters that day, and it was subsequently destroyed for fire wood and to build shanties for the troops. Troup Hurt's brick house, the focal point of the Cyclorama, stood unfinished facing the Decatur Road near present-day Degress Avenue. Heavily damaged in the fighting, it was finally burned five days later.

 

Figure 3. View of part of the Cyclorama, depicting the Troup Hurt House at left and the Augustus Hurt House, partially visible behind the trees at upper right. Neither house survived the Civil War. The arrow indicates the approximate site of 394 Sinclair Avenue in a landscape that was sketched from life and gives a reasonably accurate depiction of the topography of the area. (Atlanta History Center)
Figure 4. Detail from "Map illustrating the military operations in front of Atlanta, Ga. : from the passage of Peach Tree Creek, July 19th, 1864, to the commencement of the movement upon the enemy's lines of communication, south of Atlanta, August 26th, 1864," annotated with an arrow to note the approximate location of the site of the Kurt-Cummings House. (Library of Congress, cws-00195)
Figure 5. The Edgewood Methodist-Episcopal Church and parsonage, which stood south of the railroad in the southeast corner of Land Lot 14. (Inman Park United Methodist Church)
Figure 6. Advertisement for the first auction of lots at Inman Park in May 1889. (Atlanta Constitution)

 

Edgewood

After the Civil War, Atlanta quickly rebuilt itself and, by the 1870s, the communities of Edgewood and Kirkwood had begun to develop around railroad stops on the Georgia Railroad between Atlanta and Decatur. Edgewood, which centered around the railroad east of Moreland Avenue, was especially popular and, with easy access to Atlanta by regular train service, the area was home to a number of Atlanta's prominent citizens, including Gen. John B. Gordon.

By 1872, Augustus Hurt appears to have platted subdivision of at least part of Land Lot 15, probably that part which lay near the increasingly busy intersection of the old Turnpike Road (now Euclid and Austin avenues) and County Line Road (now Moreland Avenue). Deeds record the names of new streets—King, First, Forest, and Hurt avenues—and reference at least twenty-two numbered lots. It is possible that portions or all of Seminole, Colquitt, Washita, and Sinclair avenues date to this period, but there was virtually no new construction after the terrible economic depression that began in 1873 and lasted for most of the decade.

 

Inman Park

In 1882, Elizabeth Hurt Jones, who was by then a widow, sold her property in Land Lot 14 to her cousin Joel Hurt (1850-1926), and by 1886, he was laying plans for the development of Inman Park, Atlanta’s first “garden suburb. ” He moved the house that his cousin Elizabeth and her husband built after the Civil War and turned it to face a new street, Elizabeth Street, which he created in part out of an old country lane. After remodeling the house, he and his family moved from their old house on Spring Street so that he could more closely supervise what he was calling Inman Park. Hurt hired the noted English landscape architect Joseph Forsyth Johnson (1840-1906) to draw up a plan for the development, and in May 1889, auctioned the first lots. In August 1889, Hurt opened the city's first electric streetcar line, running from Five Points to Inman Park. The era of the streetcar suburb in Atlanta had begun.

 

Copenhill Park

Figure 7. Detail from the first plat of Copenhill Park, 1890, annotated with an arrow to located Lot 10, Block 38, site of what is now 394 Sinclair Avenue. (Superior Court, Fulton County Courthouse)

The development of Inman Park in Land Lot 14 had immediate competition in the Copenhill Land Company, which was incorporated in 1888 for the purpose of developing Copenhill Park, a large swath of Land Lot 15 that included the site of Augustus Hurt's old house. Partners in the company were brothers Oscar Swift Davis (1866-1940) and Charles A. Davis (1850-1940), sons of a prosperous merchant at Penfield in Greene County, Georgia, and newcomers to the city, and Lodowick Johnson Hill (1846-1930), son of a wealthy planter in Wilkes County, Georgia, and a banker in Atlanta after the Civil War.

Like Inman Park, Copenhill Park incorporated old country roads into a new system of curvilinear streets in the manner of the garden suburb pioneered in Atlanta by Joel Hurt in Inman Park. Its centerpiece was Madeira Park, which, like Springvale in Inman Park, was created out of a natural ravine near the center of the development. Some of the intersections of the curving streets were defined by small circular or triangular traffic islands similar to those found in Ansley Park today.

Three lakes were depicted along the southeast side of Copenhill Park in the early plats, but it is not clear that the lakes─or more properly "impoundments"─were ever built. If they were, they would have been fed by a small stream that originated in one or more springs on the west side of Little Five Points and flowed in a southwesterly direction parallel to Highland and Sinclair avenues. This stream and the one that forms in Springvale Park and another in Madeira Park are part of the long-buried headwaters of Clear Creek. On the early plats of Copenhill Park, "Lake Avenue" is depicted branching from the Old Turnpike Road and running parallel to the branch with cross streets between the lakes. In the early 1900s, public health campaigns against mosquito-born disease led to the draining of many similar water features while others, like Lullwater proposed for Druid Hills, were never built. By the time, houses were built in Block 38, beginning about 1905, Lake Avenue had been renamed Sinclair Avenue, and work was underway to bury the stream and make all of the lots in Block 38 more suitable for building.

Figure 8. Detail from the final platting of Copenhill Park in 1915, showing Block 38, after the stream that bisects the block had been buried. The mid-block meander of the street here and in the other blocks of Sinclair Avenue is an echo of the route of the stream, which itself determined the original route of the street in the 1870s and 1880s. (Superior Court, Fulton County Courthouse)

 

In 1890, the newly-organized Fulton County Railroad Company, with Lodowick Johnson Hill as president, opened the city's second electric street car line, the "Nine-Mile Circle" which ran out Highland Avenue to Virginia Avenue to Boulevard and back downtown via Houston Street. Providing convenient access to Piedmont Park, it was a popular route and spurred early development all along the Highland Avenue corridor. The electric street car lines, more than anything else, made possible the development of Atlanta's residential suburbs in the years before World War I.

George Adair, who had helped pioneer the city's suburban development in West End in the 1870s, was the auctioneer when the first lots in Copenhill Park were offered in April 1890. It was, the newspaper reported the next day, "a gratifying success." The development lay "beautifully on a high shaded plateau. Symmetrical drives and streets have been laid off through the property, and altogether it is most admirably adapted to its purposes of an elegant suburban home retreat."

Financial panic in 1893 and the ensuing economic depression precipitated collapse of Lodowick Johnson Hill's Gate City Bank and many others and put an end to building construction until the late 1890s. Not until after the turn of the century were houses being built on Sinclair Avenue in Block 38. In 1908, the City of Atlanta annexed Copenhill and Inman Park.

 

90 Sinclair Avenue

The last house to be built on Sinclair Avenue between Washita and Colquitt avenues was on Lot 10, Block 38, numbered 90 Sinclair Avenue. On 25 January 1912, Pittman Construction Company bought the lot from William A. Horne (1877-1967). The son of a shoemaker, Horne was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina, and worked as a book salesman there before coming to Atlanta shortly after the turn of the century. He and his wife, Mabel, married around 1907, and by 1910 he was stationery manager at Foote and Davies, the city's largest printing house. Around that time, the Hornes moved into a new bungalow at 93 (now 393) Sinclair Avenue, directly across the street from the then-vacant lot at 90 (now 394) Sinclair, which they also owned. The reason for Horne's purchase of the then-vacant lot is not clear but it was probably bought as an investment.

On 29 January 1912, Pittman Construction Company obtained a building permit for construction of a frame dwelling on Lot 10. The company was established by Frank A. Pittman (1865-1958) in 1884 and made its reputation as one of the city's best-known residential builders in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its offices were in the new Rhodes Building on Marietta Street, and Amos G. Rhodes, the furniture magnate, was president of the company. There was no architect listed on the permit, which noted that the house was to be built with "day labor" at a cost of $4,000. The builder was listed as M.C. Neal, but nothing has been documented of him or his career. The permit was marked completed on 6 May 1912, although painting and landscaping may not yet have been finished.

Figure 9. A plate from Patton Paint Company's 1915 catalog. With the red roof, this was the color scheme for the house when it was built in 1912. (from Roger Moss, A Century of Color)

The house is a variation on the American four-square, one of the most commonly built houses in the first quarter of the twentieth century. The four-square is a form or type rather than a style; architectural details could be varied to create the character of the Prairie Style, Colonial Revival. Neoclassical, Craftsman, or even Italian Renaissance. True to its type, this house is two stories with a full-width front porch, a hipped roof, and no center hall. It is atypical in not being a uniform rectangle or "square" but rather comprised of two staggered, oblong blocks, one six feet shorter than the other.

The new house was at the forefront of modernity, with a flowing, open floor plan made possible by a central heating system; large, double-hung windows that allowed for maximum ventilation; a full bathroom at a time when fewer than 5% of American homes had indoor plumbing; and light fixtures that could use either gas or electricity, a characteristic of early twentieth-century buildings when the reliability of electricity still remained an issue. The original first-floor plan featured an entrance hall, living room, and staircase to the second floor; a large dining room surrounded by a plate rail; and service areas that included a butler's pantry, a kitchen, a small latticed back porch, and a toilet. On the second floor were three bedrooms, each with a closet; a sitting room or study; a single bathroom; and a cross hall open to the staircase below. There was also a large daylight basement, only partially finished, and an unfinished attic.

Typical of the period, architectural details are eclectic, including shallow Tudor arches across the front porch and in the entrance hall, where there were also engaged paneled columns; Craftsman-style eave brackets, battered boxed columns on brick piers, and bracketed living room mantel shelf; and Art Nouveau-inspired stained-glass panels in the stair hall and in the living room transom.

A low balustrade, presumably of wood, once surrounded the roof of the front porch, and balustrades ran between the porch piers. All of the balustrades had a geometric design, similar to the popular Chinese Chippendale often associated with the Colonial Revival, but the designs of the two balustrades differed.

Figure 10. Susan Alford Fuller

The original colors of the house were determined through analysis of the layers of painted finishes to be a mustard-colored body, white trim, and black or dark green window sash, a popular combination for that period. The front door was varnished oak, and there was red, asphalt roofing.

Although the house was almost certainly finished by summer 1912, it remained vacant when information for the 1913 city directory was compiled in September 1912. Finally, on 12 December 1912, Pittman Construction Company sold the house to Mrs. Susie Fuller for "the penal sum of $14,000," which was double the actual sales price of $7,000. Fuller paid $3,400 and signed a mortgage for the remaining $3,600. Typical of the period, the deed stated that "[i]t is understood and agreed that the property above conveyed is to be used for white residence property only."

Figure 11. The house at 394 Sinclair Avenue as it appeared in 1913 not long after it was built. (Kurtz Collection, Atlanta History Center)
Figure 12. Floor plans of the house as it was originally constructed. (drawings by author)

Figure 13. Front and rear elevations of the house as it was originally constructed. (drawings by author)
Figure 14. Wilbur Kurtz's depiction of 1864 Atlanta guided set design for filming Gone With the Wind in 1939.
Figure 15. Wilbur Kurtz and Annie Fuller, 1909 at her parents house on Washington Street. They married in 1911. (from Cooper,"The Art and Life of Atlanta Artist Wilbur G. Kurtz")
Figure 16. Wilbur Jr and Nell Kurtz with their nurse Agnes, left, and the family cook, Lela, on the front steps at 90 Sinclair on 16 October 1915. (from Cooper,The Art and Life of Atlanta Artist Wilbur G. Kurtz)

 

The Kurtz House

In December 1912, Wilbur Kurtz (1882-1967), a young artist and amateur historian, began leasing the new house from his mother-in-law. He and his family were the first residents at 90 Sinclair Avenue. Born in Oakland, Illinois, the son of George Heelen and Amanda Baum Kurtz, he was raised in Greencastle, Indiana, where his father was a bookkeeper for the local bank. Educated at DePauw University (1903-04) and the Art Institute of Chicago (1905-09), he flourished as a commercial artist in Atlanta, specializing in architectural renderings. An avid student of local history, he painted scenes of early Atlanta that remain notable for the historical research that went into their creation.

In the mid-1930s, he supervised the WPA-funded restoration of the Cyclorama, which included the addition of a diorama as a foreground for the painting. In 1938-1939, he served as historian and technical advisor for the filming of Gone With the Wind and repeated that role for Song of the South in 1946 and Walt Disney's The Great Locomotive Chase in 1957. In 2013, David O'Connell published a book-length biography of Kurtz, The Art and Life of Atlanta Artist Wilbur G. Kurtz: Inspired by Southern History. Kurtz's extensive manuscript collection at the Atlanta History Center includes a few photographs of the exterior of the house at 90 Sinclair prior to World War I.

On 14 June 1911, Kurtz married Annie Laurie Fuller (1884-1946), daughter of Confederate Capt. William A. Fuller (1836-1905), famous for his capture of Andrews' Raiders in the "Great Locomotive Chase" in 1862. Her mother was Fuller's second wife, Susan Clementine Alford Fuller (1848-1916). Annie grew up hearing the stories about the Civil War, and some credit that with sparking Kurtz's interest in local history.

Wilbur and Annie Kurtz's first child, Wilbur George Kurtz Jr. (1912-1991), was born while they were still living in a bungalow in Candler Park, but a daughter Nell (1913-2000) and a son, Henry (1916-1988), were born while they were living on Sinclair Avenue. Two more children followed after they moved to Penn Avenue in Midtown, Annie Laurie Kurtz (1920-1987) and Eugene Allen Kurtz (1923-2006).

Susie Fuller made the last payment on the house in February 1915, but by the summer of 1916 the family had decided to move. On 5 July 1916, Mrs. Fuller sold the property for $5,575, and the Kurtz moved to a rented house on N. Highland Avenue, where they were living when Susie Fuller died in October 1916. A short time later, the Kurtz family moved to a new house on Penn Avenue, where Annie and Wilbur Kurtz lived the rest of their lives.

Figure 18. Mrs. Kurtz, right, and Wilbur Kurtz Jr. at 90 Sinclair Avenue in 1913. (Kurtz Collection, Atlanta History Center)

 

The Cummings House

The new owner of 90 Sinclair Avenue was William Bacon Cummings (1857-1930). He was born in South Carolina, the youngest of four children of James Cummings, a merchant in Barnwell, and his wife Rosina. Nothing is known about William's childhood, but his father, James, may have died during the Civil War, leaving his widow with three children. By 1870, Rosina Cummings and the children were in Augusta, Georgia, where she seems to have operated a boarding house. They soon moved to Atlanta, at first living in a small wood-framed house near the corner of Forsyth and W. Peters streets and by 1880 in a two-story house on N. Pryor Street just north of Auburn Avenue (then called Wheat Street).

Figure 19. Fire Chief Cummings at his desk in his office on the second floor of Fire Department headquarters at 44 Alabama Street. (from Franklin Garrett, Yesterday's Atlanta)
Figure 20. Fire Chief Cummings in the back seat of the department's new Buick, 25 April 1909. (from Franklin Garrett, Yesterday's Atlanta)

In the 1870s, William Cummings was employed as a pressman at the Franklin Steam Printing House on S. Broad Street, but also joined the city's volunteer fire department in 1871, soon after coming to the city.

Rosine Cummings died 25 February 1881, age 60, and was buried at Oakland Cemetery. The following year, William formed a short-lived partnership with James J. Yokum in a book-binding business, but the business apparently did not prosper and, Cummings went to work with the Atlanta Fire Department when it was organized in the fall of 1882.

On 14 September 1882, William B. Cummings married Eva Esther Woodward, daughter of William J. Woodward, a miller at Hog Mountain in Gwinnett County, Georgia. A son, Harold Bean Cummings. , was born in September 1883 and a daughter, Wilhemina Elizabeth Ann "Willie" Cummings, in November 1892. A third child died in infancy. The family boarded at 142 Crew Street in the 1880s before buying a house at 307 Pulliam Street in a new neighborhood developing southwest of downtown.

Like many middle-class Atlanta families in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Cummings employed an African American servant, who usually cooked for the family and who, before World War I, generally lived with the household. Two are listed in the Federal censuses: 21-year-old Lotta Grier in 1900 and 22-year-old David Blake in 1910. By World War I, increasingly poor race relations prompted most white households to stop providing living quarters in the home for their African American servants.

William B. Cummings was assistant foreman at the fire department by 1900 and in 1906 was named Atlanta's fire chief. His tenure there is noted for the department's acquisition of an automobile for the chief in 1909 as well as the city's first motorized fire-fighting equipment in 1911. He retired from the fire department in 1915 and tried his hand at real-estate sales as the family lived briefly in a house on W. Peachtree Street.

Figure 21. Plan of first floor of Kurtz-Cummings House with early additions highlighted in red. (drawing by author)

On Sinclair Avenue, the Cummings probably re-decorated, including wallpapering the bedroom walls. Their most notable alteration was the addition of a sleeping porch across the rear of the house, perhaps as early as the late 1910s but probably in the 1920s. In the days before air-conditioning, sleeping porches, which were often only screened with no windows, were very popular and commonly seen on new houses or, as on Sinclair Avenue, as an addition. In the Cummings' sleeping porch, a ribbon of large single-light sash, which were counter-weighted and could be lowered out of sight beneath the sills, filled the upper half of the outside walls, allowing for excellent cross ventilation. Located at the rear of the house, off the dining room, it would have offered the family a cool, private place for hot summer evenings.

The Cummings' son Harold married Louise Maier (1888-1977) in 1907 and a son, Harold Jr. , was born in February 1909, before the move to Sinclair Avenue. After the move, a second son, John William, was born in June 1913, and a daughter Kathryn in 1920. As long as Harold's parents' lived, he and his family lived with them at 90 Sinclair Avenue, which was renumbered 394 Sinclair Avenue in 1927.

The Cummings' daughter, Willie, married Benjamin Elijah Ragsdale (1888-1953) about 1912 and they, too, lived with the Cummings on Sinclair Avenue. There were apparently no children, however, and Willie may not have been well. In the 1930 census, Willie cannot be located, but Ben Ragsdale is shown living in a hotel on Peachtree Street, alone but still listing himself as married. Willie Cummings Ragsdale died on Christmas Day 1932 and is buried in the Cummings plot at Westview.

William B. Cummings died on 10 February 1930 and was buried at Westview Cemetery. His widow Eva continued to live on Sinclair Avenue with their son John and his family until her own death on 14 March 1937. Two years later, Harold and Louise sold the property and moved to Chattanooga, where they lived the rest of their lives.

 

The Edens House

The new owners were the Edens, who sold their small bungalow at 877 Euclid Avenue, where they had lived for several years, and bought the house on Sinclair Avenue, which was nearly twice the size of their old house. James Felix Edens (1900-1974), his wife Louise (1901-1992), and their daughter Caroline (b 1929) lived at 394 Sinclair Avenue throughout the 1940s. He was a civil engineer with the Southern Engineering Company, which had offices on Spring Street in Atlanta.

No specific changes to the house can be dated to the 1940s, although the Edens most likely repainted the interior and probably the exterior as well. By the time their daughter turned 21 in 1950, the neighborhood was beginning a rapid decline, and the Edens moved to Morningside. For the next twenty-five years, 394 Sinclair Avenue was rented out by absentee landlords or, from 1960-1968, lived in by an owner who subdivided it as a rooming house.

During the housing shortage that plagued Atlanta and the nation during World War II, many larger homes in Inman Park and elsewhere were used as rooming houses or divided into apartments. Many people took in boarders, as the Edens probably did too. By the 1950s, the post-war rush to the suburbs was underway, and the value of single-family houses in Inman Park and much of the rest of in-town Atlanta collapsed as the neighborhood underwent massive disinvestment in the 1950s and 1960s. By the end of the 1970s, as Inman Park Restoration was bringing renewed attention to the neighborhood, 80% of the commercial space in the Little Five Points business district was vacant.

 

Rental and Rooming House

Figure 22. Plan of first floor of Kurtz-Cummings House showing rooming-house alterations ca. 1960. (drawing by author)

The Edens sold the house to James Taylor Hambrick, a clerk at Southern Railway Express, and his wife Olivette J. Hambrick in February 1950. Apparently unable to pay off their loan, however, the Hambricks conveyed title to the house to Robert M. Couch and his wife Tommie L. Couch in August 1951. Their ownership was also short, and the Couches sold to Mrs. Fred L. Crespo on 1 October 1952, and by the end of the month she had had a new furnace installed at 394 Sinclair. The house was rented for several years after that.

Around 1956, Mrs. Crespo appears to have conveyed title to 394 Sinclair Avenue to Mrs. Flora M. Faulkner (1891-1968), a widow who was engaged to marry Mrs. Crespo's father-in-law, Fred Sr. , who was also widowed. The couple were expecting 394 Sinclair to be their home, but he unfortunately died on 1 September 1957 before they could be married.

Probably in 1959 or 1960, Mrs. Faulkner decided to make the best of it and moved into the old Kurtz-Cummings House by herself. To make ends meet, she rented out as many as seven furnished rooms in the house, but to make that possible, she had the engaged columns removed from the south side of the entrance hall, the arch in-filled, and a pair of french doors installed, which allowed Mrs. Faulkner to separate her living quarters on the first floor from the rest of the house. A closet was built into a corner of the old dining room, which she used as a bedroom, and the old butler's pantry was remodeled as a bath room. The drafty old sleeping porch was converted into a kitchen. The three coal-burning fireplaces were closed up and the associated tile hearths and mantels were removed. All of the original combination gas-electric light fixtures were replaced with modern light fixtures, except for a single wall sconce inexplicably left in one of the bedrooms.

On the front of the house, the two columns on the south end of the front porch were removed, along with the large double-hung window in the living room and its stained-glass transom, and a room, with jalousie windows on two sides, was constructed on that end of the front porch. To complete the remodeling, the wood siding was covered with white, cement-asbestos shingles and aluminum awnings were installed around the front porch and at the two front windows on the second floor.

Figure 23. The note left by the old tenant to the new owners, 1 December 1977.

After Mrs. Faulkner's death in 1968, the house was inherited by her children, who continued to rent it out. With absentee landlords, the house suffered. Cigarette burns on the living room mantel, walls covered with crayon drawings, and heating ducts rusted out at the elbows from urine or other liquids poured through the registers were but some of the evidence of the neglect that occurred during this period.

In July 1975, next-door neighbor Jennie Carroll and her son Henry, tired of the condition of the house, purchased it. Owning the houses on both sides of their own at 390 Sinclair Avenue, the Carrolls initially thought about replacing all three with a modern apartment building, but thought better of it. They continued to rent 394, but they had the old sleeping porch underpinned with concrete block, the interior repainted, and the pine flooring sanded and refinished.

Two years later, as real estate values in Inman Park climbed after decades of decline, the Carrolls put the house at 394 on the market and sold it in the fall of 1977. On the day the sale was closed, Blanche Hardy, the Carrolls' last tenant, left a fire burning in the fireplace and a warm note on the mantel.

Figure 24. Two views of 394 Sinclair Avenue, 1 December 1977, poor images taken with a Polaroid camera, but the only ones from that year.
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