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Apartment #1

Furnishing Plan

Sources

This is part of a series of historic structure reports on the historic architecture of Georgia and the Southeast by Tommy H. Jones. It is posted here for educational purposes only and may not be used or reproduced for commercial purposes or without the express permission of the author.

 

 

 

In the 1920s, the Crescent Apartments was a thoroughly modern apartment building. Small and mid-size apartment buildings like it had begun to spring up even before World War I and, after the war and the 1917 fire that destroyed Mitchell's birthplace and much of the northeast side of the city, apartment construction boomed. The Crescent Apartments were the result of a major renovation of an older single-family house in 1919 and must have still remained in good condition when Mitchell and Marsh moved on the eve of their marriage on 4 July 1925.[1]

When Mitchell married Red Upshaw in 1922, she had done the "correct" thing in moving in with her father and brother. That was the way in which many young couples with limited financial resources started married life, and Mitchell followed suit in spite of her generally rebellious ways. Likewise, John, as a bachelor away from home, did what was typical by living in a boarding house where accommodations might include a room or two, a shared bathroom, and meals at a common table. Yet as Mitchell and Marsh renewed their relationship after her disastrous first marriage fell apart, there was a need for greater privacy than could be found under her father's eye or within the close confines of John's boarding house. So in 1924, John finally rented a small apartment at the Langdon Court Apartments on Tenth Street a block east of Peachtree Street, an apartment that Margaret helped furnish and decorate, even to making curtains for the windows. [2]

By the time their courtship blossomed into marriage in July 1925, and perhaps before, they rented a larger apartment in the Crescent Apartments two blocks away.[3] They apparently determined not to make the same mistake that she had made with Red, no matter how much her father wanted them to live with him. As John wrote his mother in January 1925, "It would be nice to live at the Mitchell home, but I would rather live in a one room apartment with Peggy than in a big house on Peachtree Road with in-laws."[4]

Fiercely independent, they also eschewed Eugene Mitchell's offer of financial help in dealing with the major doctor bills that both had accumulated, first with John's three-month hospital stay in late winter and early spring of 1925 and then Margaret's ankle injury shortly after their marriage. Writing her sister-in-law in the spring of 1926, Mitchell wrote that "Dad, of course, wants to lend us some Jack, says he'll leave it to us, anyway. But I think we'll try to buck through without any borrowing for a while."[5]

Margaret described some of the particulars of their predicament and her feeling about it when she wrote John's brother Henry Marsh in 1927. She pointed "with pride" to the fact that they were living "poorer than Hell ever was and yet we make out very well" as they struggled in paying out a third of John's salary from Georgia Power in doctors' bills and "all but five a week of my monumental salary on doctors bills and last years clothes." [6] Indeed, Mitchell was always very frugal. As Lillian Deakins recalled, Apartment #1 was "a nice apartment, nothing lavish, of course; comfortable, but they never, even after she got the money from the book, never lived lavishly."[7] Medora Perkerson even remembered that Mitchell and Marsh "themselves repainted [the apartment] before moving in."[8]

In spite of Mitchell's references to "the dump," the Crescent Apartments were barely five years old when the Marshes moved in. [9] The building was in no sense the "dump" that Mitchell's remarks and the building's deteriorated condition after World War II might suggest. The building itself was over twenty-five years old but most of the plaster and virtually all of the woodwork and floors, bathrooms, and kitchens were installed in 1919.

True, the apartment is small (about 650 s.f.) and most of its windows had a view only of the two-story house that sat across the shared driveway, barely ten feet from the living room window. With a limited view and that to the north and the neighbor's garage and backyard, it is not surprising that Mitchell complained of the apartment's being "dark." In addition, Mitchell was rather cold-natured and, given the documented inadequacies in the building's hot-water heating system, the couple was often cold. As John wrote his mother after moving to the Russell Apartments in 1932, "In La Dump, we battened down all the windows in early fall and never opened them again until spring, preferring foul air to permitting any of our little supply of heat to escape."[10] With Marsh's constant cigarette-smoking, the air-quality must have been fairly grim, at least by the standards of more recent times.

Finally it should be noted that Mitchell and Marsh lived in apartment #1 for nearly seven years, longer than any other single tenant ever occupied the building throughout its long and checkered history. Had the building been as abysmal as later writers have indicated, it is unlikely that Mitchell and Marsh would have continued to live there for as long as they did. Only in contrast to the Mitchell's elegant Peachtree Street mansion could it be characterized a "dump," and her and John's use of the term should be seen as part of the slang of their generation reflected against the relatively affluent life style that both had enjoyed growing up.

 

Neighborhood

Crescent Avenue itself was clearly residential in character. Tenth Street was a relatively narrow, two-lane street west of Peachtree with a "dog-leg" at Crescent that plagued east-west traffic until Tenth Street was re-routed to its present configuration in the 1950s. Except for Southern Bell's elegant New North Exchange Building that had been constructed on the southwest corner of Crescent and old Tenth Street in 1916, the entire area west of Crescent could be characterized as a residential neighborhood of quiet, tree-lined streets.

Nevertheless, Crescent itself represented a transition between the burgeoning business district along Peachtree and Tenth and the neighborhoods of single-family homes to the west. The two-story frame houses to the north and the south of the Crescent Apartments all remained single-family residences throughout the 1920s and early '30s. The same was true of the two houses directly across the street from the Crescent Apartments, although they appear to have become rental property by the mid-twenties. The presence of the fine Phelan and Palmer House Apartments on Peachtree Place opposite Crescent Avenue helped insure that there would be plenty of pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood. On the other hand, Col. Burke's big stone house (c. 1895) at #1 Crescent, which Mitchell could see from their front porch, sat vacant, perhaps boarded up, from 1926 through 1932 or '33 and may have lent a slightly seedy air to the block for much of the time Mitchell lived there.

If Col. Burke's house represented some of the more undesirable changes that were affecting the residential character of the area, the neighborhood as a whole retained much of its prestige throughout the two decades between the wars. In spite of commercialization along Peachtree Street, some of the big houses from the 1890s and 1900s,, like architect Thomas Morgan's at Eighth, still had their original occupants through the Depression. In the 1920s, most of Atlanta's citizens worthy of listing in the Social Register lived within a district that approximated present-day Ansley Park and Midtown, with Peachtree and Tenth at the center of this district. Only in the last half of the decade did the city's elite begin in earnest their migration to the northwest side. [11] Even so, the Tenth Street neighborhood remained a quite reputable neighborhood at least until World War II.

In addition, the Crescent Apartments could not have been more conveniently located. Several street car lines ran through the neighborhood along Peachtree and West Peachtree and several of the cross streets. Like most Atlantans of the period, Mitchell and Marsh were without an automobile, unless borrowed, during their tenure on Crescent Avenue. "I never saw anybody with such a phobia about automobiles, driving, and accidents as John and Peggy," John's sister Frances Zane said. Marsh never drove and not until 1933 did they finally buy an automobile which Mitchell drove, badly. [12]

The convenience and the range of stores and services available in the neighborhood could certainly have influenced the length of Mitchell's residence at the Crescent Apartments. The Tenth Street shopping district, which had developed slowly over the preceding thirty years, mushroomed in the 1920s and, by 1925, there could be found within a block or two of the Apartments several grocery and drug stores, a delicatessen, a bakery, a butcher, a fish market, a post office, a theater and a bank. Within the city, only Little Five Points and West End could compete with the Tenth Street business district in terms of range of retail services and products.[13]

 

Lifestyle

Mitchell would certainly have enjoyed that convenience since she was never a cook. As she wrote her brother-in-law Henry March early in 1927, "I have a credit account at the quick and dirty here where I breakfast and lunch." This may have been the Orange Grove or it may have been Samuel Franco's Delicatessen, both of which were on the east side of Peachtree just south of Tenth. [14]Sam Franco's son Jack, who continued to operate his father's delicatessen as the Roxy Deli, remembered making occasional deliveries to Apartment #1 when Mitchell was unable to get out.

In general, Mitchell cared little for housekeeping either, although she had certainly performed the task adequately after her mother's death in 1919. Still, Marianne Walker described this aspect of her life: "Indeed, all her life her room was generally a wreck, littered with ashtrays, clothes, shoes, hose, books, magazines, and paper--lots of paper." [15] Marsh finally hired Lula Tolbert in the spring of 1926 to cook and clean the apartment, but she died shortly afterwards and Mitchell's child-hood nurse Annie filled in until Eugene Mitchell sent his old cook and housekeeper Bessie Berry. Berry, later Jordan, remained with the Marshes for the rest of their lives. In addition, Carrie Mitchell had been doing John's laundry for years and after the marriage, she continued to pick up and deliver the laundry at the apartment. [16]

Especially in the early years in the apartment, Mitchell and Marsh appear to have entertained visitors frequently, if not always willingly. Friends apparently felt free to drop in at will which could be "very inconvenient," according to a letter from Mitchell to her mother-in-law in the fall of 1925. "It's also inconvenient when Frances Newman calls on us at early dawn (12:45) on Sunday mornings and expects us to receive in bed. We have a sign on the door now with visiting hours on it. Maybe that will stymie them."[17It probably didn't since, as Medora Perkerson recalled, Mitchell was "such good company, that the Marshes' apartment was a pleasant place to visit."

Medora Perkerson's description of their wedding reception, which was held in the apartment, and Mitchell's own description of a party there on New Year's Day 1926 and of another on 4 July 1927 give an excellent description of some of the couple's more formal affairs and suggest the difficulties of entertaining in the close confines of the apartment. Clearly, however, they did not let small quarters prevent them from entertaining. [18]

More significant, perhaps, for being more frequent were Mitchell's small dinner parties and impromptu drop-ins by her many friends. The latter were so numerous at one point that Mitchell threatened to post a sign on the front door stating "visiting hours."[19]  Nor did they let space and privacy limitations keep them from having over-night guests. Mitchell wrote her sister-in-law Frances concerning the possibility of staying with them for a while but admitting that it was impossible at that time. The reason given was not lack of space, for the presence of the Murphy bed in the front room was probably taken for granted (see apartment description above), but rather Mitchell's self-admitted ill humor during that period of her life. [20]It seems likely that the Murphy bed was used on occasion for very close friends or relatives who were in town for a visit.

Mitchell continued to work at the Journal after their marriage, producing stories like the ones on Confederate generals that she staged around Gutzon Borglum's proposed carving of a Confederate memorial at Stone Mountain in the fall of 1925. [21]Yet she was increasingly unhappy within the confines of a regular job. In addition, her ankle injury was still causing pain so that, by the spring of 1926, she was being urged by her husband, father, and brother to quit work so that she could stay off her feet and give it time to heal. This she did by early May 1926, thus beginning a period of increasing boredom and general dissatisfaction with her life that, in a way, precipitated her writing of Gone With the Wind, which, most sources agree, must have been begun sometime during 1926. Her attitude is perhaps best characterized by her statement when she wrote her mother-in-law in late May or early June 1926:

I have never been so happy since I got good sense. I've quit work (except for my rent paying colyum [sic]) and am freed of the nerve wracking tread mill and the slave driving editor [Angus Perkerson] which have been my lot for four years. I regret to say that my main occupation consists of sitting in a bright blue wicker chair, pillowed with scarlet cushions and looking out thru blue ruffled curtains at a tall lombardy poplar that quivers incessantly. I just set and don't even think. I aimlessly make lace pillows out of scraps and when the girls pile in every afternoon, Annie (my child hood nurse who is now cooking for us) serves tea.[22]

Always a voracious reader, Mitchell regularly read the Atlanta newspapers as well as the New York Sun and H. L. Mencken's American Mercury. [23] She also read almost anytime and anywhere. In a letter to Harvey Smith in July 1927, she told him that she had "just read [his letter] in the bath tub." She went on to note, parenthetically, that "in some ways, the Hard-Boiled Virgin had common sense--and one of the ways was in the use of hot baths."

Mitchell's interest in books is well-documented. Medora Perkerson, recalling their wedding reception at the apartment, stated that "there were so many books they hardly left room for the wedding presents."[24] Mitchell's book collection was jealously guarded, even to the point of locking them up, probably in the hall closet. As Mitchell wrote her in-laws in 1926, "I never trust literary people alone with our collection. They have no souls where it comes to lifting books and I've lost too many at parties." [25] At one point, she wrote, she even posted a sign in the front room stating that she did not loan books.

In addition to those she owned, Mitchell used the Atlanta Public Library extensively, having read all the books on southern history by the time she was 21. She never left the library with anything less than an armload of books and, when she was laid up and could not leave the apartment, Marsh would bring her books. For much of her life, she read up to two books a day and stacks of books were a common feature everywhere she lived.

Another feature that was apparently common to all of Mitchell's apartments was the presence of a mix of new and second-hand furniture, with the second-hand predominating, at least in the years at the Crescent. Some had been handed down through her family, although it was probably not until later that Mitchell acquired many of the family heirlooms that are notable in the photographed interiors of their last apartment at the Della Manta. Other pieces had been acquired by her mother at auction about 1914 to furnish Margaret's room at 1412. [26

Marsh certainly had acquired some furniture as well for his first apartment on Tenth Street. Some of it was new but some of it was second-hand, including a few things from Union Mission's thrift store and from the Mitchell's house itself. [27] No doubt, some, if not all, of Marsh's furniture was moved to the Crescent apartment in 1925 and combined with Mitchell's own furniture to furnish the apartment.

In addition, both Mitchell and Marsh left mention of the utility of purchasing furniture second-hand. In a letter to Harvey Smith in 1933, for example, while debating the purchase of a second-hand sofa from Sterchi's, Mitchell wrote, "I don't want to pay much for a sofa and want to get a second-hand one . . . but just when i start to buy, I think of moths, and lice, bed bugs and am restrained. I'd rather have a second-hand one that had been good than a cheap first-hand one and indecision is torturing me."[28]  Given their commitment to "live poor," they would probably have shopped the second-hand stores in 1925, just as they had in 1924 in furnishing Marsh's apartment.

Note should be also taken of the fact, that when the building was sold in 1922, the recorded deed stated that the conveyance included "all furniture except in #2, 5, & 9 . . . according to list furnished grantee this day." [29] Whether or not this meant the other apartments, including #1, were furnished at that time, is not known but these documents raise the possibility of existing furniture in the apartment when Mitchell moved in. Then, as now, that may have been limited to a stove, icebox, and kitchen cabinet but may have also included a small dinette table and chairs of the type often sold as part of a set with kitchen cabinet and work table.[30]

Mitchell apparently liked house plants as well, although she must have been somewhat frustrated with the lack of sunlight in the apartment. Only the alcove windows and, to a very limited extent, the vestibule got any direct sunlight and then only in the afternoon. Nevertheless, there were a variety of plants that can thrive in that light and that were popular house plants of the period. The Lane Brothers photographs show several plants in the Della Manta apartment. The old-fashioned Syngonium podophyllum on the living room coffee table, an African violet on the bookcase, a draecena on the sun porch and the narcissus being forced on the dining room table can all be readily identified. Houseplants, particularly those that require low light and a minimum of care like the Syngonium, Sanseveria, Pothos, and Philodendron, could be quite effective in enlivening the confines of the apartment. All were well-known and popular varieties in the 1920s. All may have been placed in clay pots with saucers that were a variety of mismatched ceramic dishes and bowls. Mitchell even mentions placing plants in "tin containers."[31]

 

 

Existing Condition in 1994

As the place where Margaret Mitchell wrote most of Gone With the Wind between 1925 and 1932, Apartment #1 of the Crescent Apartments was examined far more closely than any other part of the building, excepting perhaps the exterior, for evidence to support restoration to its appearance when Mitchell lived there. An exhaustive examination of the apartment has been conducted by the author in conjunction with ongoing architectural investigation by architect Gene Surber and investigation of interior and exterior finishes by Sara Chase.

Each of the rooms in the historic apartment (Rooms 101-105 and 109-111) was examined and representative samples of plaster, woodwork and decorative finishes and other materials were retrieved as documentation for each of the several renovations as well as to help establish specifications for restoration. At the end of the project, these items were turned over to the Margaret Mitchell House Museum, Inc. Data from materials analysis is included as Appendix C-3.

To provide a context for understanding the apartment, the other spaces in the building that survived the fire and were accessible were also examined. These included Rooms 106-108, 112-117, and 122—all of which adjoin the apartment, the surviving fragments of the west wall of Room 124, and most of the second floor except Rooms 210 and 211. On the third floor, damage was so severe and access so limited that investigation was been limited to Rooms 301-304. While materials were also salvaged to document some of the features from the upper floors of the building, the investigation there was not exhaustive and many details about those floors remain uncertain.

No photographs of the apartment interior prior to 1978 have been located and the most useful of later images are the Faulk photographs from 1987.

The narrative that follows describes the physical condition of Apartment #1 as it existed immediately after the 1994 fire.

Figure 1. View northwest after first fire, 1994.

 

Vestibule (101)

It appears that this space was not part of the original 1914 basement plan but was created as a vestibule for apartment #1 in 1919. At that time also, the exterior door was relocated from the south wall to the west wall, opening onto the newly-constructed front porch of the apartment. The present configuration of the space dates to 1964, at which time the west door was infilled as a window and most of the original trim, except perhaps for the door and frame to 102, were replaced.

Floor: The floor, which is ¾"-square tiles laid in white with red border and probably dates to 1919, continues in Room 106, the old main entrance to the Crescent Apartments. Examination of the floor in Room 106 shows that it was laid on a cinder-rubble base on top of the same concrete floor that is found throughout much of the basement. Presumably, the same base is present under the tiled floor in Room 101.

An indication that the staircase is probably contemporaneous with the tile floor is the fact that the stringers were set on wood blocks off the concrete. If a wood floor had been installed in 1919, remnants of that floor would probably have survived beneath the staircase, since wood floors were typically not laid around a staircase but beneath it.

The tile floor is intact and in good condition in Room 101 but subsidence of the ground beneath has caused severe cracking of the floor in Room 106. Neither floor is level.

Walls: The south and west walls are plaster on brick, heavily repaired, particularly on the south wall. There, a door opening in 1914 was infilled with a window in 1919, using concrete for the early infill. The north and east walls are frame with plaster on wood lath. The east wall, which was heavily damaged by fire, was clearly added after plaster was in place on the exterior brick wall at its south end and on the wood lath ceiling. The absence of an existing ceiling above the north wall, which continues along the south side of Room 102, indicates that it may have simply replaced an earlier wall in the same location when the floor was raised in 1919.

Ceiling: Plaster on wood lath, heavily damaged by smoke and fire but some early wallpaper and much paint still intact. Note ghost of cornice, probably installed to hide the gas lines running along the north wall to the kitchens in the apartments above. The fact that this ceiling continued above the top plate of the east wall indicates that it probably dates to 1914.

Windows: Window W-1 on the south wall of Room 101 was probably a door opening in 1914, but was in-filled with a 6/1 window in 1919 and changed again to existing 6/6 in 1964. Masonry opening is approximately 35" by 86" sill to bottom of arch, with lower 7” of opening in-filled with concrete on top of exterior sill. Note that 1964 alterations to other openings did not utilize this method of infill (see Appendix C-1, notes on fenestration). Interior of concrete infill is plastered with greyish plaster similar to that on west wall but without animal hair binder, followed by grey cement plaster associated with wire lath. Also interior tile appears to have been laid around a now-missing interior door sill at this opening.

Doors: Two door openings exist in Room 101, although neither frame, door or trim have survived. The door on the east wall to Room 106, which was the main entrance into Apartment #1, and the door on the north wall to Room 102, both have rough openings 39½" by 86½", indicating 3' by 7' doors. Both doors were probably the four-panel doors documented from the period elsewhere in the building. The existence of a door at the opening to Room 102 is documented by the Faulk photographs, one of which shows this door frame, including mortises for a missing door hinged on the west side of the jamb, swinging the door into Room 102.

A third door opening, D-2, on the west wall opening on to the front porch, existed from 1919, until in-filled with the existing window in 1964. Probably a 3' by 7' door as well, it is documented by the 1955 photograph of the west facade. Wooden, it had two vertical panels below a single light of glass in the upper half.

Trim: All original window and door frames, casing, and doors and windows have been removed. Ghosts remain from the door casings at the openings to Rooms 106 and 102, showing their dimensions to be essentially those of the historic door casings that remain in place in Room 104. The Faulk photographs also show that they were trimmed like the openings in Room 104, with back-band and molded corner trim.

Historic baseboard, 7½" wide with ¾" quarter-round as a cap but with no shoe molding in place, remains on the east wall to the right of the door to Room 106 and on the north wall to the left of the door to Room 102. Note that the quarter-round base cap differs from the molded base cap found in Room 109 but that it is probably historic and should be used to replicate missing baseboard in this space.

The trim on the existing window opening on the south wall is best documented by the Faulk photographs and is probably the trim used at this opening originally. Unlike most of the other windows in the apartment and elsewhere, it did not have a back-band and trimmed casing.

The ghost of the cornice which hid gas pipes running to kitchens above measures 4½" on both walls and ceiling. Its profile is clearly documented in the Faulk photos, also.

Utilities: Early wiring is present for center-mounted overhead lighting, along with the original pancake box and a switch to the left of door to Room 102, but there are no receptacles. A doorbell wire is present in the left (north) jamb of the door to Room 106. The light fixture for the front porch, the box for which exists on the exterior of the west wall to the north of the present window opening, was not switched but probably operated by a pull-chain.

 

Living Room (102)

Figure 2. View north in Living Room.

 

Figure 3. View east in Living Room.

 

Figure 4. Original (1919) baseboard in southwest corner of Living Room.

The original room here before 1919 was larger than at present. The presence of an original 1914 frame wall has been documented on a line with the present east wall of Room 103 (see notes on Rooms 104 and 105) and it appears to have formed the east wall of the original front room. The fact that the present east wall of Room 102 was installed against an earlier plaster ceiling supports this conclusion. Installation of the bathrooms, later alterations, and recent ruinous water damage have obliterated much evidence.

The south wall of the original room was probably located near the present north wall of Room 108, if the gas light noted below and the existing brick sill beneath the floor were meant to be centered in the space. However, the gas light may have been located simply to light the stairwell noted below, and, as noted earlier, the south wall of the space, although dating to 1919, may have simply replaced an earlier wall in that location.

The in-filled window on the north wall and the large header across the ceiling of the room make it clear that the service stair that was part of the old 1899 house was reconstructed in the northeast corner of this room in 1914. It connected with Room 209 which may have become the new kitchen for the house in 1914.

Floor: Except for the alcove floor, which is a separate system, this floor is supported by a system of 2” by 8” joists running north and south and laid on centers ranging from 19” to 24". Flooring is pine, tongue-and-groove, 2½" wide and slightly less than ⅞" thick, laid with no subflooring.

Note the brick construction running east and west beneath the floor about five feet from the south wall. Two or three courses are visible above grade with single bricks added later to support each of the present joists. This feature and the two parallel sills found on the south side of the basement relates to the 1914 floor noted in the previous section.

Walls: West and north walls are reddish plaster on brick, much of it probably original to 1914 although the area behind the missing 8" baseboards has been mostly re-plastered with modern materials. The east wall was originally plaster on wood lath but all of the plaster was stripped out, probably in 1964 when the wall was covered with drywall and the door opening relocated (see below). The construction of this wall against an existing plaster ceiling that dates to 1914 indicates that the east wall was created in 1919. The south wall is also plaster on wood lath but its top plate intersects directly with the floor joists above (see notes above in Room 101 about this wall).

Some of the framing material on the east wall appears to have been reused from other locations, notably the 4” by 4” posts that formed the sides of the original opening into Room 103. These may have been part of the framing for the service stair. The stair stringers that have been found re-used as sleepers for the floors in 109 and 110 were also probably part of this service stair.

Ceiling: The first ceiling in this room, which probably dated to 1914, was plaster on wood lath. Although most of the reddish plaster was lost when a new plaster on wire lath ceiling was installed after WWII, some remains above the top plate of the east wall and near the alcove. Note especially that the lath and plaster are continuous from the main ceiling into the alcove, which was almost certainly added after 1914 but before 1919.

Windows: In addition to windows W-4, W-5, and W-6 in the alcove (see below), there are two windows in this space, W-3 and W-7. Both windows were probably part of the 1914 construction of the first floor of the building and both probably had 1/1 sash, perhaps salvaged from the razed kitchen wing of the 1899 house. Both have limestone sills on the exterior that were salvaged from the old house. The window on the west wall, which has a masonry opening approximately 42" by 86", is visible with its original 1/1 sash in the pre-1964 photographs of the building. The window on the north wall, with a rough opening approximately 41" by 74", probably had a 1/1 sash as well. Both windows, including frame, sash and interior and exterior trim, were replaced in 1964. Newspaper from the 22 November 1964 issue of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution has been located, having been used as a base for caulking a rather large gap between the wall and the new window trim at the window on the north wall.

Another window opening should also be noted. Although its location can be only partly discerned by examination of the exterior brickwork, this opening is clearly marked by a wood framed opening that is visible from the interior on the north wall just above the shortened wall pier in that location. Beginning approximately 76" above the finished floor is a rough-framed opening measuring approximately 33" across and at least 68" tall. This was one of two windows that lit the service stair that ran from the top floor of the building to the basement. A portion of the other stairwell window, which was located between the second and third floors, is visible in 210. Bathrooms were installed in this old stairwell in 1919 at which time the windows were bricked up and plastered over.

Doors: All of the historic doors, including frame and casing, were removed from this room, probably in 1964. From oral interviews with some of the building occupants in the early 1960s, it appears that the doors in the apartment were probably like the two four-panel doors that were adapted for use at the two exterior doors on the east side of the basement. The door to Room 101, which swung into Room 102 against the west wall, has been described above under that room description.

The two existing rough openings on the east wall both measure approximately 40" by 87". The area around the opening into the hall, which had been in-filled with a 1960s door frame and trim, was so badly water-damaged that its original configuration could not be determined. However, it seems most likely that it originally contained a door opening, probably like the one at the east end of Room 104.

The other opening, between this room and the closet (Room 103), contained a Murphy bed, named for its inventor, the American William L. Murphy. In the undated letter to her mother-in-law from early 1926 in which she described their New Years open house in Apartment #1, Mitchell wrote, "We spread the tea table and the coffee table in the back room which is our main bedroom (the Murphey [sic] bed is up in the front)." These beds were quite popular in the 1910s and 1920s as a way of gaining additional space in small apartments. Marsh had one in his small apartment, which we would probably now describe as a "studio" apartment. He described it to his mother in a letter in 1924:

A Murphy bed, My Dear Mother, is a door-bed. You open an innocent looking door, and in a 'trice transform your staid and sober library into a scandalous bed room. It is the Jazz Age descendant of the Mid-Victorian folding bed, and has the advantage that it doesn't fold up on one's self in the middle of the night. [32]

In a memorandum that Margaret Baugh, Mitchell's personal secretary, wrote to Stephens Mitchell in 1956, there is a description of what must have been this same Murphy bed. She wrote:

The right back wall of this front room [of Apartment #1] was covered by a drapery [the occupant of the apartment was Robert McGuinnes, a photographer, and the "drapery" may have been a backdrop for his photo shoots], which the landlord pulled aside to reveal double doors. He said that behind the doors is a closet which, in the old days, contained a folding bed. And he said, "She slept on this bed which folded into the wall.” [33]

Finally, Boyd Lewis in his oral interview (p. 8) recounted the Murphy bed as well: “There was a murphy bed that pulled out from the wall and the place where the bed pulled down is still in the building. It's this little inset into the wall.”

Trim: The only pieces of the historic woodwork that have survived in this room are the three-part sash in the alcove (see below) and a short section of baseboard to the right of the door to Room 101. The latter is 7½" wide, pine, with good paint layering. A hole has been cut in the baseboard for installation of a duplex receptacle, probably in 1919. The existing baseboard on the east wall to the left of the present hall door probably dates to 1964. It is 7½" wide but utilizes modern picture mould for a base cap. Almost certainly, the original baseboard and window and door casings in this room matched those that survive in Room 103-105 and 109.

Utilities: Early wiring and pancake box for center-mounted overhead light is switched to the right of the door to Room 101. As noted above, a duplex receptacle is mounted in the baseboard beneath this switch. Note the knob and tube wiring above the ceiling in the southeast corner, probably pre-1914. A modern wall-mounted receptacle on the east wall near the southeast corner is fed with vinyl-coated romex and probably dates to 1964. Note the presence of a gas line, most likely for lighting in 1914 but perhaps dating to 1899; located approximately 9' from north wall and 10' from west wall. Not centered in existing Room 102, it probably lit the larger room which occupied present Rooms 102 (including the alcove), 103, 104, and 105 and probably Room 101 and part of Room 106.

In the northwest corner of the room, a cast-iron pipe (1⅝" o.d) descends. Part of the hot-water heating system, this pipe was probably the return to the main boiler. Near the ceiling are elbows that probably fed a ceiling-mounted radiator for this room.

Alcove: It might be assumed that the alcove was part of the original construction in 1914, but the brickwork that finishes the exterior of the alcove to a height of about four feet simply butted against and was not tied into the original 1914 brick walls. However, if it was not constructed in 1914, physical evidence shows that it must have been a very early addition made prior to 1919.

The alcove, which is of wood-frame construction, may have been created by enlarging an existing window opening, perhaps similar to window W-3. However, both sides of the opening could have been original. Note that the inner wythe of the original 1914 brick wall was removed to accommodate piping for hot-water heating running in northwest corner of Room 102.

Further demolition of the historic plaster would be required to fully investigate details of the framing of this opening. The existing opening into the alcove measures about 5’-8" wide by 8’-8" high. The ceiling of the alcove itself is 9’-4" high.

A triple set of fixed window sash inset with leaded glass panels were part of the original alcove. Probably salvaged from elsewhere in the 1899 house, only the window frames remain in place.

The exterior is sheathed in diagonally laid 1” by 6” boards. Above the brick, the sheathing is clad in 1” by 6” lap siding above a 1” by 3” wooden drip sill. This siding is different from that on the 1919 kitchen additions above Room 111 and the porch enclosures on the south side, all of which were originally finished in 1” by 6” beveled siding nailed directly to the studs without exterior sheathing. The original exterior soffit and cornice of the alcove remain largely intact. They, too, differ from that found on the addition above Room 111. Note that the soffit and cornice does not continue on the south end of the alcove, where it originally terminated against the porches in that location.

The existing flooring in the alcove appears contemporaneous with the rest of the floor in Room 102 although it was laid separately. Dimensions for most boards are identical to the main floor although beaded tongue-and groove boards, ⅝" thick, were used in part of the floor. The flooring is laid on sleepers built up to approximately 2½" which are laid on an earlier wood floor. The earlier floor, which is laid on 2” by 8” joists, is composed of 4" tongue-and-groove flooring which appears never to have been varnished or painted. Note that the earliest wood floor in the alcove is approximately level with the early concrete floor on which the sleepers for the existing flooring in Room 109 are laid.

The walls and ceiling of the alcove are finished with plaster on wood lath that appears to be contemporaneous with the original 1914 ceiling of Room 102. The space may have originally been finished simply with a baseboard and window casing, contemporaneous with the first wooden floor.

Probably as a part of the 1919 apartment conversion, the alcove was paneled and trimmed. Ghosts of early panel molding are visible in the upper portion of the north and south walls, along with remnants of early wallpaper and later layers of paint. The Faulk photographs provide the best documentation for the alcove prior to its being stripped in 1987. [34] The lower portion appears to have been fully paneled, probably with a window seat. Above the seat were three mirrored panels and, on the west wall, the three leaded glass windows under which Mitchell wrote much of "Gone With the Wind.

The Faulk photographs from 1987 provide the best detailed view of the original alcove woodwork.

 

Closet (103)

This space was most likely created in 1919 in the southeast corner of the original room noted above. With the exception of removal of the Murphy bed from the west wall, it appears to have been little altered since that time.

Floor: The flooring is tongue-and-groove pine, 2½" wide, like that in the remainder of the apartment. It shows the same sequence of paint as is found on the floor of 102. Note that the floor was painted black when the door to 102 was in-filled, probably in 1964. Note also that flooring runs through the opening to 102 where there is the ghost of a saddle approximately 34" long.

Walls:  All walls are plaster on wood lath, except for piers in southeast and northeast corners, which are plaster on brick. All walls are badly deteriorated but all show early pink paint and wallpaper similar to that found in the alcove of Room 102. The east wall may be contemporaneous with the ceiling, but the others appear to be later.

Ceiling: Also plaster on wood lath.

Doors: Original 1919 frame and casing are intact on door to Room 104, although opening has been furred down to accommodate existing 2'-6" by 6'-8" louvered door which probably dates to 1964. Original mortises for hardware are visible.

Trim:  8" three-part baseboard is intact, including molded cap and ¾" quarter-round shoe molding, except in the southeast corner where the shoe molding is molded.

Utilities: A center-mounted ceiling light is present with no switch. Water pipes to bathrooms run exposed along the west wall at ceiling. There is no indication that they were ever enclosed.

Miscellaneous.: There is no evidence for added partitions in this space. Note 4" stripes of unpainted plaster running at 60" and 76" on center above the floor on south face of pier on north wall, east wall, south wall and along west wall to opening to 102. These mark the location of shelving and are probably contemporaneous with creation of the space.

Note the ghost on the plaster on the north wall at its junction with the west wall. Approximately 3" wide, it runs vertically the height of the door and marks the intersection of the edge of the door casing with that wall.

 

Hall (104)

This space, which has suffered severe water damage, is also a product of the 1919 apartment conversion.

Floor:  Flooring is the same tongue and groove flooring with similar paint layering as found in Rooms 102 and 103. Note that flooring runs through door to 102.

Walls:  All walls are plaster on wood lath except for the west wall which is entirely modern (1964) material.  Plaster on pier predates installation of south wall.

Ceiling: Plaster on wood lath at 8’-5”, with a modern gypsum-board ceiling on 2” by 4” furring at 8’.

Doors: All historic material associated with the door on the west wall to Room 102 is missing, but the original door frames and casing but not the doors themselves remain intact at the doors to Rooms 103, 105 and 109. The door openings at Rooms 103 and 105 have both been lowered to accommodate ,modern doors, 6'8" high.

Trim: The baseboard is intact except on the west wall, but the cap is missing from around the protruding pier and to the right of the door to Room 103. Note that the baseboard on the north and south walls terminates at the west end in such a way as to indicate the presence of baseboard before creation of the opening to Room 102. Had the baseboard terminated into a 1919 door casing, the gap between the end of the baseboard and the location of the original west wall would have been greater than the existing ¾" to 1" gap.

Utilities: There is a center-mounted ceiling light, which was not switched.

Miscellaneous: Note the patch on the north face of the pier on the south wall, evidence of the wall that was removed in 1919. See notes on 102.

 

Bathroom (105)

This space was probably created in 1919 when the service stair was removed and bathrooms installed here and in the stairwell on the upper floors. Little 1919 material has survived the several remodelings that this space has undergone, most notably in 1964.

Floor: Modern concrete floor; large fragments of the original 1¼"-hexagonal tile floor have been retrieved from beneath the floor of this space and that of 104.

Walls: The west wall is modern plaster-on-wire lath. The north wall is historic plaster on brick, heavily patched. The east wall was originally plaster on wood lath but all historic plaster has been removed from above the height of the chair-rail. The south wall has been extensively patched but the section to the left of the door to 104 appears to be original to the space. Below a chair-rail, the plaster is scored to resemble 3" by 6" tiles. Ghosts for a 4"-wide chair-rail and an 8"-high tile base are visible as well.

Ceiling:  Remnants of an early plaster-on-wood-lath ceiling that predates installation of the bathrooms are visible above the existing plaster-on-wood-lath ceiling that is contemporaneous with the walls. Above the existing ceiling, note the location of the original wall about 20" west of the east wall of this space. This early wall was the east wall of the large space that originally included Rooms 102, 103, 104, and 105, described above. Following the line of the east wall of Room 103, its location can also be marked by the 4" patch that runs vertically along the north face of the pier in Room 104.

Window: Window W-8 on the north wall has a rough opening 39" by 58", which probably contained a 6/6 window in 1914, like those that survive in Room 109. The opening was reduced in size by in-filling with plaster on wire lath for smaller opening. The existing sash is 36" by 38" and dates to 1964.

Door: The door is missing but typical frame and casing are intact.

Trim: In addition to door casing, the chair-rail, which was set 40" off the floor, was probably like that retrieved from a contemporary bathroom upstairs, a sample of which is in the architectural study collection. The rail itself is ¾" by 3½" pine with eased edges topped by ½" by 1⅝" molded stop with ¾" quarter-round at their intersection. Removal of the chair-rail was probably contemporaneous with removal of the original tile floor and with installation of wire-lath plaster on the west wall.

Utilities: Fixture locations are probably original to 1919, with the toilet in the southwest corner, the sink in the northwest corner, and the tub along the east wall. All historic fixtures have been lost, but a toilet retrieved from Room 307 is probably contemporaneous with the toilet here. The existing toilet is dated 28 February 1964. The existing wall-hung sink bracket is post-WWII.

Note the piping for the hot-water heating system on the east wall near the ceiling. An elbow through plaster and lath appears to be part of the original construction of this wall. The fitting on the vertical pipe in the west wall indicates that the heating pipe ran exposed across the ceiling from a ceiling-mounted radiator in the southeast corner.

Early wiring for a ceiling-mounted light fixture is present, but there was no switch.

Miscellaneous: The medicine cabinet opening above the sink on the west wall is contemporaneous with wire lath plaster; there is no evidence of an earlier medicine cabinet.

Figure 5. View west through Bedroom to Living Room.

 

Bedroom (106)

As with Room 102, the 1919 bedroom may approximate the layout of an earlier 1914 room. The plan of the space was substantially altered in 1964 and later with the addition of a closet in the southwest corner and a bar in the southeast corner of the room.

Floor: The same tongue-and-groove flooring used in Room 102 is present, although here the flooring is laid on 1” by 6” sleepers laid flat, probably mostly on concrete. A concrete floor is visible under the deteriorated wooden floor southeast of the room’s center but no concrete is visible along the north wall. Some of the sleepers are stair stringers, like those found in Room 110, and were probably re-used when the old service stair was removed in 1919.

Walls: The north wall is original plaster on brick; the west wall north of the Room 103 wall is plaster on wood lath added after installation of the ceiling. The east wall is plaster on wood lath on the south end at the kitchen and plaster on brick on the north end at the back porch. The south wall is original plaster on wood lath to the right of plastered chimney breast, but plaster on wire lath to the left of the chimney breast. Note the odd corbel at the ceiling on the left end of the chimney breast. The west wall is plaster on wood lath and was added after the ceiling was in place.

Ceiling: The ceiling is plaster on wood lath, but 75% of plaster is missing.

Windows: There were originally three windows in this space, the two existing windows, W-9 and W-10, on the north wall and another, smaller opening on the east wall. The two on the north wall both retain their original window frame, sash and most of their interior and exterior casing. Both have 6/6 sash, double-hung with lead counterweights and sash cord. Muntins are missing from the lower sash, but interior hardware and some glass are intact. Although window W-10 has a 1899 sandstone sill and window W-9 a granite sill, they appear otherwise to be contemporaneous openings. Both have remnants of hinges for shutters on the exterior.

The other opening was on the east wall, opening onto the back porch. With a masonry opening about 29" by 41", it has what may be the remnants of an 1899 sill. All modern framing in-fills the opening, with plaster-on-wire-lath on the interior. The opening was probably in-filled after WWII, probably when the back porch was enclosed.

Doors: Both doors to Room 104 and to Room 110 are missing but frames and casing remain in place. The frame and casing to Room 110 are badly rotted.

Trim: Original 8” baseboard is intact on all walls except the south wall left of the chimney breast, around the chimney breast (although it may not ever have had a baseboard), and at the north end of the east wall. The base cap is missing on the north end of the west wall and badly damaged along the east end of the north wall. Some ¾" quarter-round shoe molding remains in place.

Utilities:  arly wiring for center-mounted ceiling light is present along with a switch on the north side of the door to Room 104. There is no evidence for base-board electrical outlets. Also note remnants of ductwork for the early 20th-century hot-air furnace above the ceiling near the south end of the east wall and piping for hot-water heating in ceiling along north wall in northeast corner.

 

Kitchen (107)

This space, like Rooms 102 and 109, may encompass part of a 1914 room. The gas light connection in the ceiling indicates a room of approximately the same width but twice as long as exists today. Additional space was added when the back porch was enclosed, probably after WWII, although it was not until 1964 that the north wall of Room 110 was removed in order to combine Rooms 110 and the back porch into a single space.

Floor: The earliest flooring is 2½" tongue-and-groove flooring, badly deteriorated, laid on sleepers, two of which are stair stringers, probably re-used material from the demolished service stair in Room 102. There is no evidence of concrete under this floor. On top of the wood floor was a sequence of floor coverings that included ⅛" masonite and green asbestos tile, probably from the 1940s; ¼" plywood and gold-flecked white vinyl tile, probably from the 1960s; and a later sheet-vinyl floor covering.

Walls: The east, south and west walls are plaster-on-wood-lath. The west wall was plaster on brick, but most of it was demolished when Room 110 and the back porch were combined. Note the original timber header for the original opening on the north wall. An iron flitch plate is supported by a modern, 4" cast-iron column that was installed directly on top of the green asbestos tile noted above. Behind the existing east wall is an earlier, wood-frame wall that was contemporaneous with the plastered exterior brick walls. It included a door to Room 112 as part of its original construction. When the waste lines for this space and the kitchens above were added, presumably in 1919, the present kitchen wall was erected without a door opening to Room 112. Probably at that time, a door was created from a window on the north wall (see below).

Ceiling: The original plaster-on-wood-lath ceiling in this space is covered by a later plaster-on-wood-lath ceiling furred down to about 8’.

Windows: The original opening at the east end of the north wall was a window in 1914. Judging from the surviving header arch and the east side of the opening on the exterior, it was probably identical to that which survives in Room 112, with a rough opening size approximately 39" x 58". Probably in 1919, when the "wet wall" was installed to accommodate new plumbing and the original door to Room 112 was lost, the window was enlarged to create a door to the outside. The remainder of the wall was removed after World War II, probably in 1964, to combine 110 and the back porch.

Doors: No doors survive in this space, although the historic door frame and casing to Room 109 are intact. The door through to Room 112 was added after World War II. The historic exterior door opening in this space was discussed above.

Trim: Baseboards and door casing profiles match those found in Room 109. Baseboard is intact on south and west walls, but missing elsewhere. The door casing at the opening to Room 109 is badly water-damaged.

Utilities: Note location of wall-hung sink on south end of east wall. A cast-iron waste line is broken off between the walls. Some supply lines and framing for mounting faucets and sink can be noted on the east wall. Note the iron pipe for gas lighting that was present prior to creation of present Room 110, located approximately equidistant from east and west walls and about 24" off the south wall. Note, too, the gas line entering the room on the east side, possibly indicating the location of the stove. Note also that this line has been extended around the east wall, through the back porch and then through the east wall of Room 109 where it continues through Rooms 105 and 102. These served gas space heaters that were likely installed after WWII.

 

Back Porch

This space was most likely not enclosed until after 1932 and probably not until after WWII.

Floor: Very little of this floor survived the 1980s neglect and the recent fire. Severely deteriorated remnants of what probably were 2” by 4” joists or sleepers with 1” by 6” subflooring laid at right angles to the joists. The only other floor coverings are ¼" plywood and white and gold-flecked vinyl tile matching that found in Room110. Note that there was no evidence of a concrete floor as is found in Room 118 on the opposite side of the building. The gas line noted in Room 110 was run beneath the wood floor here, which supports the assumption that enclosure of this space occurred after WWII. In addition, the two photographs that have been located of the exterior of this space before the fire show differences in construction technique and in siding material that support the conclusion of a relatively late enclosure of this space.

Walls and ceilings: Beyond the brick walls on the south and west sides, no evidence of any historic wall and ceiling finishes has survived. Specifically, no paint ghosts can be noted on the brick pier at the northeast corner of the space, something that would likely be found if this space had been enclosed at an early date.

Windows and doors: A modern door and framing on the east side of the space, probably dating to 1964, was badly damaged from falling debris and exposure.  Although there was likely a window on the north side after the porch was enclosed, no evidence for it has been located. See notes for Room 109 for details of opening on west wall and those for Room 110 for opening on south wall.

A stone step, surrounded by small pea gravel, was noted at the original opening from the kitchen (107). This is probably the best evidence for the use and appearance of this space in the 1920s.

Utilities:  Note presence of gas line for space heaters running under floor here; space heater in northwest corner. 

 

Notes

 

1. Walker, p. 125.

 

2. Walker, p. 112-114. Langdon Court was at 111 E. Tenth St., south side between Peachtree and Juniper; John's apartment was A-3. It may have been the 3-story building at right rear center of the Lane Bros. photograph of the intersection of Peachtree and 10th, looking east; see historic photographs, Appendix 1.

 

3. Walker, p. 112.

 

4. Walker, p. 114.

 

5. Walker, p. 152.

 

6. Walker, p. 131.

 

7. Oral Interviews, Appendix E, Vol. 2, Deakins, p. 4.

 

8. Perkerson Memoir, University of Georgia, Special Collections.

 

9. MM to Harvey Smith, 15 Mar 1933, Emory University; note that she does not capitalize the word.

 

10. Walker, pp. 187-8; newspaper dated 1927 was retrieved from one of the window casings in the front room in 1995.

 

11. Preston, Automobile Age Atlanta, pp. 84 & 99.

 

12. Pyron, p. 292-294.

 

13. The Hazan and the Cothran interviews in Vol. 2 of he oral interviews (Appendix E) provide interesting recollections of the "Big Tenth Street" shopping district during its heyday. The Hazan interview also chronicles the decline of the neighborhood after World War II.

 

14. Walker, p. 131.

 

15. Walker, p. 59.

 

16. Walker, pp. 150-151.

 

17. Walker, p. 132.

 

16. Walker, p. 134, 139-140; letter from MM to Mary Marsh, early 1926; letter from MM to Harvey Smith, 23 July 1927, Emory University.

'

19. Walker, p. 132

.

20. Pyron, p. 222; MM to Frances Marsh, 23 August 1926; Walker, p. 153.

 

21. Walker, p. 138-9.

 

22. Walker, p. 152; MM to Henry Marsh, May or June 1926.

 

23. Walker, pp. 70 and 131.

 

24. MM Coll, University of Georgia, Medora Field Perkerson memoirs.

 

25. Walker, p. 140.

 

26. See inventory of family pieces in MM Coll., Univ. of Georgia; MS 905, Box 164, Folder 1.

 

27. Walker,  pp. 112-114, provides extensive quotes from a letter John Marsh wrote his mother about his new apartment.

 

28. MM Coll., Emory University, MM to Harvey Smith, 15 March 1933.

 

29. Fulton Co. Deed Book 632, p. 204; Book 706, p. 230.

 

30, Kennedy, Hoosier Cabinets, p. 59.

 

31. See inventory, p. 2, description of plant table.

32. Walker, p. 114.

33. Memorandum dated 8 May 1956, Margaret Baugh to Stephens Mitchell, Mitchell Estate papers.

34   Removed from the apartment and stored in 1987, the woodwork and windows from the alcove subsequently disappeared and may have been destroyed.

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