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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tullie Smith House is a two-story, braced-frame building approximately 32' wide and 36'-8" front to back, including the front porch. Constructed over a large cellar on a stone foundation raised about two feet above grade, the house rises 18½' from sill to front cornice. Originally oriented toward the northeast, it now faces almost due west.[1] 

Figure 1. View northeast of front and south end of the house, 1996.

Figure 2. View southeast of front and north end of the house, 1996.

Figure 3. View northwest of the rear of the house, 1996, with south wall of kitchen visible at right.

Figure 4. View southwest of the rear of the house, 1996.

Foundation: The existing stone foundation of the house appears to be a faithful recreation of the original foundation, including its height.  Mueller noted the presence of “a large stone” covering a large area of the cellar floor under Room 102 that appears to have been the granite that underlies much of DeKalb County.  Mueller also noted that “many layers” of that stone had been removed and “perhaps used in cellar walls.”  No record of an analysis of the original mortar has been located but the existing mortar is thought to visually match the original.

At least as early as the 1920s, the exterior of the foundation was whitewashed, according to Tullie’s nephew.  It is not known if the foundation was also kept whitewashed in the nineteenth century although that would not be surprising. The four foundation vents, two on the front of the house and two on the back, were features of the original foundation, although the material is modern.  They are an unusual feature and another mark of the high quality of the design and construction of the original house.

Both chimneys on the main house had stone foundations with, according to Mueller’s notes, “clay mortar” like that on the rest of the foundation. Exactly what he meant by that description is not clear, although it is likely that the mortar had a high lime content. The chimneys, which were constructed of brick, were built to match each other although they varied slightly in their exact dimensions. The use of brick for the fireplace and chimney construction is another mark of the relatively high quality of the building’s original construction. The fireplaces of most of the early pioneer houses, like Goodwins, were of stone, which could be had for only the cost of gathering it.  More expensive brick was usually reserved only for the chimney itself, sometimes replacing an early mud-plastered wood chimney. Although the brick chimneys were in place by the time the first photograph of the house was taken in the 1880s, it is impossible to say if they were original or if they were an early improvement to the house along with, perhaps, the early changes to the porch.

Although original brick was used in the reconstruction of the chimneys in 1970, no attention was paid to whether the brick being used had been originally laid on the inside of the flue or as “face brick.” This, according to Moore, and other faults in the initial reconstruction of the chimneys by Black, necessitated partial rebuilding of both chimneys by Leavell in 1971. In order to “blend the texture” of the mix of old and new brick, Leavell sandblasted both chimneys once reconstruction was complete.[2]

Roof: There is always the possibility that the roof dismantled in 1969 and reconstructed in 1970 had been rebuilt at an earlier date, but that is not likely and it appears that nearly all of the existing rafters and roof decking on the house today is original material. The individual members are not, however, necessarily in the same position on the house as they might have been before the house was dismantled.

Some of the slab-sawn decking is as wide as 13" to 19" wide, since the boards were sawn from the outer parts of the tree and still include some bark, they give an indication of the large size of the trees from which the lumber was sawn. As noted above, the rafters (all approximately 3" x 5¾") are nailed at the top and where they join the wall plates around the perimeter of the building and were probably so attached in the original building. The roof has no wind braces, probably because the builder did not think them necessary on a roof with such a shallow pitch.

The house was originally roofed with wood shingles, perhaps hand-split but quite possibly mass-produced and machine sawn. The split oak shingles that were installed in 1970 did not last long, because, according to Moore, it was cut from sap wood and not from heart wood. They were replaced prior to 1976 and have been replaced again in recent years.

Prior to the advent of galvanized metals in the mid-nineteenth century, few could afford the expense of anything but a wood-shingle roof. After the Civil War, however, galvanized roofing allowed many Georgia farmers to install “tin” roofs. Usually installed in panels with flat seams, these roofs were actually composed of sheet iron or steel coated with a thin layer of tin or zinc alloy to protect against rust. Far cheaper than copper or lead, this roofing eliminated many of the maintenance headaches and all of the fire hazard inherent in wood shingled roofs.  The Tullie Smith House had a “tin roof” in 1969 that had probably been on the house since at least the turn of the century and could have even been installed as early as the 1870s when Robert H. Smith was alive.

Judging from the photographs and Mueller’s drawings, the existing roof cornice on the house appears to have been accurately restored. It is not clear how much of it is original material but substantial amounts are.

Siding: The original siding on the house was ½" thick and 6" wide, laid with the usual lap of about 5½".  Much of it remains on the house but much has also been replaced.  All of the original siding on the front of the house was replaced in 1970 along with significant amounts of the lower courses all around the house, especially on the rear. The 1969-1970 photographs also suggest that siding had been partly replaced across the rear prior to 1969.

The historic siding and other wood trim is fairly easy to distinguish by the paint build-up on its surfaces, although that difference will diminish with time as the building is repeatedly repainted. Future repairs should endeavor to preserve the existing material or, if that is not possible, to record its dimensions, placement, and method of attachment, etc., for further study.

According to the specifications, the exterior siding of both the house and the kitchen was sandblasted after new wood was installed in order, as with the masonry, “to blend the texture of new and existing surfaces.”  This operation apparently did not have the intent of removing all of the historic paint from the exterior of the house.

Windows: With the exception of the two front windows on the first floor and the two small windows at the rear of the second floor, all of the windows in the house appear to be original.  Some of the original sash may have been repaired, with the thicker (approximately ⅝") new muntins of the new sash and repaired sash contrasting with the thinner (approximately ½") muntins on the original sash. Only the lower sash could be raised. One of the pre-restoration photographs shows a detail of one of the original windows in Room 102, complete with the typical wooden sash stop on the left stile of the lower sash. 

The front windows on the first floor were lengthened to 9/9 windows either in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries.  These were replaced with new sash and trim when the house was restored.  The windows on the first floor are 9/6, approximately 2'-4" x 4'-8"; those on the second floor are 6/6, approximately 2'-4" x 3'-10", except for the two on the rear which are fixed, 6-light sash approximately 2'-3" x 1-11".  Antique glass was used to replace all modern glass in 1970 so that it is no longer possible to distinguish the original glass.

The abundance of windows in the Tullie Smith house is another clue that the house was constructed after the 1830s, when the use of board-and-batten shutters and without window sash was still quite common. In 1839, for instance, James Silk Buckingham was told that Jarrett Manor, the famous inn near Toccoa in northeast Georgia, would be easy to find because it was “the only house with glass windows in it on the road.”[3]  Sash were usually added when economics permitted and they were often changed or enlarged later in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  

Doors: The front door in 1969 was of a type popular in the 1920s and 1930s but it very likely replaced a door that was installed when the central hall was created in the 1880s. The back door, too, had surely been replaced by 1969 since no mention of an original door at that location can be found.

Since neither the front nor the back door existed in 1969, the documentation for the design of the existing exterior doors is not known. These six-paneled doors may accurately represent the design of the original. However, a simpler two or four-panel door like the back doors at the Wynne-Russell House or tongue-and-groove, un-paneled and cross-braced door like the doors at Goodwin’s were probably more typical.

Front Porch: All of the existing material on the front porch, probably including the roof framing, dates from 1971 or later.  The restoration committee’s deliberations over the original configuration of the front porch included some study of the boards removed from beneath the shed roof when the house was dismantled.  One of these is shown placed against the front window in 101 so as to allow comparison with the mortises for the porch floor beams.  A slide taken by Mitchell in 1971 shows boards nailed to the front framing of the house that appear to replicate the roof angles suggested by the pieces of siding, which would produce a porch similar in size to that shown on the Means drawing. However, they also had photographs of hipped-roofed front porches and must have known that there was no way to know if Means’ gable-ended porch roof or the perhaps more common hipped-roof porch was the correct solution. Ultimately, and correctly, the committee decided to recreate the porch floor framing as it existed in 1969 and presumably had existed since before the Civil War and to use the 1880s photograph to guide reconstruction of the remainder of the porch, including the small room at the north end. A relatively minor aspect of that reconstruction that cannot be documented is the exact placement of the door to the small room.

The porch room was built for itinerant “parson’s,” “preacher’s,” “deacon’s,” “prophet’s,” or just plain travelers, depending on who one asks. It functioned as a sort of guest room for visiting family members or friends or even for strangers. Because of its small size, which was typical of these rooms, it was probably used mostly for sleeping. 

 

Attic

The entire second floor, attics, and roofs were dismantled for the move and have been completely reconstructed although probably using most of the original materials. Access to the main attic is through a scuttle-hole, which existed in 1969, in the ceiling of Room 202.  The attic is unfloored although it was insulated with fiberglass batts in 1971.  Access to the attic above Rooms 103 and 104, is through a small door beneath the rear window in Room 202. It, too, is visible in the 1969 photographs and both openings were probably original to the house. Part of the house's HVAC equipment is installed in the rear attic today.

 

Cellar

As noted above, the finished nature of the cellar—planed joists, plastered and/or whitewashed walls, and stone floor—suggest that the cellar under Room 101 and, originally, all of 102, was intended for useful, liveable space. While the fireplace does not appear to be large enough to be useful for cooking, it could have served as temporary living space for slaves or servants or for a number of other uses. Rebecca Latimer Felton recalled her grandmother’s basement from the mid-nineteenth century:

In that brick basement there were three spacious rooms. The principal room was used for the family meals, with capacious fireplace and safes stationed around the wall.  In these safes and cupboards there was storage room for all sorts of domestic supplies. The middle room was a “loom room,” the third was the kitchen, with wide hearth, cranes in chimney for hanging pots and kettles.[4]

Although that basement was partly raised and big enough for three rooms, Felton’s description may offer insight into the way the Smiths might have used their cellar. While they probably did not use the room as a dining room, the Smiths could have easily used it for the kind of storage that Mrs. Felton described. Theft by slaves and servants was always a concern, and Robert and Elizabeth Smith would certainly have kept their valuable supplies and foodstuffs under lock and key, with the kitchen cellar outside being used as a sort of “root cellar” for storage of sweet potatoes and other such staples.

Figure 5. View of south side of cellar showing stairs to outside and the fireplace that was reconstructed in 1971.

The existing cellar was recreated in 1969-1970 based upon Mueller’s drawings, notes, and photographs of the original cellar.  It faithfully recreated most aspects of that cellar, including the fireplace, except for the partition wall that Mueller noted as being constructed of vertical, 2" x 6", tongue-and-groove boards.  Its location is marked in the present cellar by the single joist on the north side of the center tie beam on which can be found remains of whitewash.  The walls in the main part of the cellar were plastered and whitewashed.  Mueller noted a door in the middle of the tongue-and-groove wall which opened into the unfinished area of the cellar that originally extended under all of Room 102. The existing stone floor may recreate with new materials something of the character of the original basement floor although no documentation, other than Leavell’s specifications, can be found for that.[5]

The existing rear sill of the main house is widely chamfered at the original cellar entrance to allow additional headroom for the descent of the stairs and there is evidence of where a door jamb was attached at one time.[6] In addition, the connection of the joist that intersects the chamfered sill from the rear is different from that of adjacent joists, indicating that it was probably installed when the stairs were removed.[7]  Whitewash can also be identified on the back (east) side of the chamfered sill but not on the sill where the present outside stairs enter the basement, all of which is an indication that the partitioning and whitewashing of the cellar were contemporaneous with a rear entrance. Although the stairs were not reconstructed in 1970, the side walls and “ramp” of the interior cellar entrance that Mueller and the photographs documented in the original structure were accurately reconstructed and the chamfered sill remains to mark its location. It seems probable that these stairs were an original feature of the house and remained in place until the staircase to the second floor was changed in the 1880s.

Probably because the outside entrance to the cellar that existed in 1969 seemed so typical, the Restoration Committee did not question the original location of the cellar entrance and reconstructed the outside cellar entrance as it had existed in 1969. Family members recalled a hole in the floor of the closet (as it existed in 1969) through which Tullie could pull things up from the basement. Since, according to Tullie’s niece, there “never were” inside stairs to the basement, Tullie could avoid carrying things around the house by using a rope to lift them through some sort of trap door.[8]

Whether or not there was always a side existence to the cellar, Mary Ella Johnson remembered that the cellar entrance during her childhood in the early twentieth century was not covered with a structure as now but had “just flat doors that we had to lift up,” perhaps similar to the kitchen cellar entrance that was created in 1971.[9] In addition, Tullie’s cellar entrance was sided in 8" siding, which did not match that on the main house, although it could have just replaced an earlier lap siding. It is likely that the existing cellar entrance, which was reconstructed in 1971, duplicates an entrance that did not exist prior to the 1930s.

 

Figure 6. Plan of existing house and kitchen.

 

Interior

Use: In attempting to determine how the rooms in the Tullie Smith House were used, it is a mistake to think of specific rooms for specific purposes. As William Seale has pointed out, while “house-planning, especially after the mid-eighteenth century, began to change toward the inclusion of more rooms and passages, creating more privacy,” old habits died hard and, not until the late nineteenth century, did increasing wealth and the fashion for more rooms and greater privacy alter in a widespread way the multiple uses to which  rooms were generally put.[10] In a small house like the Smiths', this would have been especially true, at least until Robert and Elizabeth Smith’s children were grown and married.

In addition, use certainly changed over time. When the house was new in the late 1840s, it was occupied by a family that briefly included at least eight people and certainly every room was constantly in use at that time. By the eve of the Civil War, however, Robert and Elizabeth Smith may have been living alone in the house. The second floor rooms might have ceased to be used at all or only on an occasional basis and certainly there would have been less need for any sort of large dedicated dining area, for instance.

In 1838, Fanny Kemble, the famous English actress turned journalist, described her husband’s “plantation house” on the Georgia coast. While, as Seale noted, generalizations about room usage are risky, her description is still useful as a certain point of reference for the Tullie Smith House, not only for the way in which rooms were used but also for the general character of those interiors.

Three small rooms and three still smaller, and a kitchen detached from the dwelling—a mere wooden outhouse. Of our three apartments, one is sitting, eating and living room, and is sixteen by fifteen. The walls are plastered indeed, but neither painted nor papered; it is divided from our bedroom by a dingy wooden partition covered over with hooks, pegs, and nails, to which hats, caps, keys, &c. are suspended. . . .  The doors open by means of wooden latches, raised by means of small bits of thread. The third room, a chamber with sloping ceiling, immediately above our sitting room and under the roof, is appropriated to a nurse and my two babies.  Of the closets, one is the overseers bedroom, the other his office.”[11]

While that house may have had more rooms than Tullie Smith, it must not have been much larger. It may have failed to impress the sophisticated Kemble, but such a house would have looked far different to most people, including the Smiths, who in it would have seen much that was familiar.

The plan of the Tullie Smith house tells something about how the Smiths used their house. If it did, in fact, have only one front door as it does now, then certainly the Smiths used the smaller of the two main rooms (Room 101) as the communal sitting room where the family gathered and visitors were greeted and entertained. On the other hand, if the house could be shown to have had a second front door into Room 102 and the stairs descending into that room instead of as they do now, then the more common practice of using the larger room as the “hall” or common sitting room would be more likely to apply.

Based upon existing information, however, it would appear that Room 101 was probably used as the “hall,” or main living room, where the family sat, visited, and worked. Particularly in cold weather, this room might also have been used for spinning, quilting, and other such chores, although probably not for food preparation.  Garrett’s description of Wesley Collier’s house indicates that it was probably much like the Tullie Smith House in its plan and includes mention of the family gathered together at night with “a servant girl” (i.e., a slave) spinning in the same room.[12]

The “dingy wooden partition” that Kemble described certainly has a potential counterpart at Tullie Smith. While not arguing the possibility that the original Smith house would appear “dingy” to modern eyes, the utility of the wooden partition in the manner described by Kemble is clear. Hats and keys are just a few of the things that might have hung there and, on the opposite side, in the bedroom, an equally impressive array of clothing and other articles might be expected since there was only one closet and it was not really designed for hanging clothes. There was probably no wall in the house upon which was not hung some utilitarian object and probably very few upon which were hung objects of purely decorative interest.

Clearly, if Room 101 was the “hall” then Room 102 was the "parlor," which was typically the main bed chamber in a traditional hall-and-parlor house and is the room most likely to have been used by Robert and Elizabeth Smith as their bedroom. Because it is the largest room in the house, it would surely also have been used as a sitting room on occasion as well, a common occurrence according to Seale. There might even have been more than one bed in this room, perhaps including a single bed for a grandchild or servant to sleep on from time to time.

The earliest recorded memories of the use of the house recall it from the early twentieth century, when the house, its use, and its furnishing may not have changed that much since the 1880s or 1890s. By the time anyone alive in 1970 remembered the house, however, it had already been remodeled into a central hall plan. In what had been Robert and Elizabeth’s old bedroom, William B. and Mary Ella Smith probably created some semblance of a Victorian-style parlor, furnished mostly for show and not for utility, “where we children were never allowed to go,” according to their granddaughter. In the slightly smaller room to the right of the central hall in what remained of the old “hall” was their bedroom. Something of the variability of furnishing and use that was typical in the nineteenth century can be seen when one contemplates the granddaughter’s recollection that “the piano was in there, and her bed and her chair.”

The two rooms on the second floor were probably always used mostly as bedrooms, although the fireplace in Room 201 suggests the possibility of additional uses.  Quite often, these second floor rooms were not heated, as at Goodwin’s and the Burdette House, and it is perhaps as significant that there is a fireplace in one room as it is that there is not a fireplace in the other.[13]

Although the Smiths may have taken many or even most of their meals in Roomm 101, they could have easily used Room 104 as a more permanent dining room, at least until construction of the kitchen addition after the Civil War. A table large enough for the entire family would have probably taken up too much space in Room 101, especially given the other uses for which the room was needed, but it could be placed in Room 104, which was unheated but well-lit, and been available for a variety of purposes, including family dining. In one corner of the room were the stairs to the cellar, where dishes, preserves, and other such supplies were probably kept, even if no cooking was done in its fireplace.[14] Out the back door was the outside kitchen, which was close enough that, with or without a breezeway, it was easy to serve. 

Dining was probably not the only use to which the room was put, however.  Dining rooms “often” served as sitting rooms, according to Seale, and Room 104 probably did, too.  Originally oriented toward the southwest, it would have gotten better light than the front rooms, a tremendously important consideration in the days before electric lighting.  According to the Robert Smith Paden interview, Elizabeth Smith never even used a kerosene lamp in the house and, knowing of the family’s literacy, a well-lit room like Room 104 was originally would have been frequently used.

With that in mind, the small window that was on the front of the kitchen begins to make sense as a means of visual communication between this room and the kitchen, even in bad weather when the doors might be closed. Sitting at the end of a dining room table or at a small desk angled between the windows, in a manner suggested by Seale, Elizabeth and Robert Smith could have easily carried on their other work in a well-lit room while still keeping an eye on the comings and goings in the kitchen. In addition, the present south window of this room faced in a northwesterly direction on the original site and looked down the farm road in the general direction of the barns and slave houses down the hill toward the creek, which made this room a natural vantage point for the Smiths’ supervision of the work on their plantation.

The uses to which the other room on the rear might have been put are more difficult to suggest.  Like Room 104, Room 103 was relatively well-lit and had a view of the kitchen and, perhaps, of the kitchen garden. It may also have functioned as an office, although Room 104 seems a much better candidate for that. It seems unlikely that Room 103 would have been used for weaving by the Smiths but that is certainly not out of the question either.  It could have even been used as a servant’s room, although that arrangement would probably have not been typical either. Perhaps it was just a spare room, used alternatively for a variety of tasks or, in later years, simply as a dressing or wash room for Robert and Elizabeth Smith.

General Characteristics: All of the walls and ceilings in the house are finished in tongue-and-grooved boards, approximately ¾" thick and ranging between 6½" and 7½" wide.  Ceilings on the first floor are set at 8'-10" and those on the second at 8'.

As with other finish material, it is unclear if the individual boards on the second floor were replaced in their original positions although most of them were probably replaced in the same room in which they originally existed. A large amount of new material was introduced during the course of the restoration but all of it appears to have replicated historic material that remained intact and in place somewhere else in the house.

Although Tullie’s remark that all of the floors had been replaced because they “wore out” has led to the belief that none of the original flooring remains in the house, in fact some of it does. Probably in the early twentieth century, the original wide-board floors were simply covered with the narrower tongue-and-groove floor, which was then removed in 1971.[15] The floors in Rooms 103 and Room 104, which Tullie had converted to a bath and kitchen, respectively, had probably been too damaged by those installations and hard use and were completely replaced in 1971. Material salvaged from those floors was then used to repair the floors in Room 101 and Room 102.

Unfortunately, the original flooring in Rooms 101 and 102 was almost completely replaced in the mid-1980s because it was felt that its appearance was unacceptable after fifteen years of tourist traffic. Only the flooring under the closet has remains of the original flooring. At least some of the flooring on the second floor appears to be original, although it must have been heavily repaired in 1971.

An unknown number of the original interior doors had been relocated or replaced in the course of changes to the building prior to 1969. Visible in the photographs, for instance, is a door with six horizontal panels of a type widely used in the  late nineteenth or early twentieth century but it is not known where it was originally installed. Mitchell’s reports suggest that the door between Room 102 and 103 was the only original door and states that it was used as the model for new doors. Photographs from 1969 clearly show similar doors between Rooms 101 and 104 and at the closet and suggest that one was in place between Rooms 101 and 102 as well. There is some also evidence that there was a door at the base of the stairs to the second floor.

While many of the door openings were relocated during the course of earlier remodelings, it seems likely that the original interior doors were re-used since there is no indication that the original openings were enlarged, which would have necessitated new doors. The many layers of paint build-up, much of it alligatored, and the “ghosts” of old surface-mounted locks suggests that the existing interior doors are original, with the exception of the door to the bathroom and the door between Rooms 201 and 202, both of which were constructed in 1971.

The existing cove molding at the juncture of the walls and ceilings may not be original. The molding appears in one photograph from 1969 but it is clear in that photograph that the molding was installed as part of the central hall configuration. Whether or not it matched an original cove molding is not known although, again, paint analysis might offer a clue to that question.

 

Room 101

Figure 7. View southeast in Room 101 in 1996.

Figure 8. View northwest in Room 101 in 1996.

The original placement of the staircase to the second floor is an aspect of the house’s restoration that cannot be verified based upon existing information. It was thoroughly investigated by the restoration committee, since the existing stairs prior to restoration had obviously been relocated, but the reason for their decision to place it at the front of the house was not recorded. The fact that the door is in the center of the partition wall does not help in determining the original run of the stairs since it could be flipped in either direction and still work.  In addition, though much of the partition wall is historic material, it may date to the 1880s and not to the 1840s, another question that might be resolved through paint analysis. However, committee members when interviewed in 1996 were adamant that “we just did not make it up,” referring to the location of the stairwell, and that is no doubt the case. Their reports suggest that there were questions about the room into which the stairs ultimately turned. That is not surprising since the lower turned or pie-shaped step treads would have been discarded when the staircase was relocated in the 1880s.

The ceiling in this room is mostly original and, like other ceilings in the house, bears evidence of the house’s evolution. The ghost of one of the walls that created the central hall is clearly visible. A squarish cut in two of the boards in front of the fireplace is evidence of the installation of a ceiling-mounted light fixture when the house was wired in the 1930s.  Its position and the position of similar cuts above the door to 102 and in 102 itself suggest that the central hall plan still existed at the time the house was wired.

Restoration of the original door locations in this room in 1971 required reframing of certain areas so that all of the boards on the rear (east) wall were replaced. A large area around the front door was also replaced, probably using material salvaged from the back wall.

The south or fireplace wall is mostly original material, including window sash, trim, and mantle.  However, the boards are not continuous from end to end, being pieced with shorter pieces to the right of the fire place. A similar pattern can be noted on the fireplace wall of 102. This may be the result of alterations or repairs, but the fact that boards are often not continuous across a wall is typical of the period in which the house was built.

The fireplace and hearth were reconstructed in 1970.  Above the mantel piece is the famous bullet hole, with which Tullie regaled visitors with a tale of “postwar raiders.”  While the bullet was extricated and proven to be of the correct vintage, the rest of the story makes little sense. In the earliest version of this story in a 1961 newspaper article, Tullie is quoted as saying, “The funny thing about that story is that the girls were upstairs dressing” and that they inadvertently came down and sat on the sofa under which their father was hiding from the gunman. Since all of Robert Smith’s daughters were grown and married even before the Civil War, Tullie’s reference to “the girls” as if they were his daughters cannot be interpreted.

 

Room 102

Figure 9. View northwest in Room 102 in 1996.

Figure 10. View south in Room 102 in 1996.

Figure 11. View east in Room 102 in 1996.

The ceiling and walls in this room are similar to those in Room 101.  On the ceiling is the ghost of the other wall of the central hall. This was the wall that was relocated in 1971 to its present location. The ghost on this ceiling is nearly twice as wide as the one in 101, possible because the latter wall, which was removed by Tullie after the mid-1930s, was constructed out of the thinner ¾" tongue-and-groove boards typical of the late nineteenth century and not out of the 1½" to 2" stock used in construction of this wall.

Most of the north or fireplace wall is original material. When the stairs and wall were relocated in 1971, the south end of the rear wall and the south side of the ceiling were pieced in a way that they were not originally but that did preserve most of the historic material. The west or front wall was pieced in a similar way but it is not known when that occurred, since it does not appear to have been necessary for restoration to occur.

 

Room 103

Converted to a bathroom by Tullie, this room was noted by the committee as having been little altered otherwise.  Most of its woodwork appears to be original, except for the floor which dates to 1971.  The lock on the door to 102 was thought by the committee to be the only original lock left and was used as a model for restoring the others (see Appendix, Restoration Committee reports, for lock drawing).  If the house did, in fact, have lock and door knobs of this sort, that is another indication of the relatively high quality of construction in the house. More typical would have been Fanny Kemble’s description of latches and strings. One of the 1969 photographs shows a wooden latch for the door to the second floor which would have gone well with Kemble’s description and, even though the door had then been moved, raises the possibility that the locksets were later additions to the house, perhaps as late as the 1880s.

 

Room 104

Figure 12. View south of Room 104 in 1996.

This room was converted to a kitchen by Tullie after World War II, with the outline of the partitioning wall still visible in its ceiling.  A door was cut into 101 at the south end of the west wall at that time and is one reason that both sides of this wall were resided with new boards in 1971.  Like 103, the floor here dates to 1971.

The original cellar stairs were located where the bathroom is now located.  The stairwell would have had a balustrade, probably similar to the original balustrade at the second floor stair well.

 

Room 201

The plan of the second floor replicates the plan of the first floor with this room being the larger of the two. As noted earlier, all of the material above the floor level here was dismantled in order to move the house in 1969. Most of the original material was reused although there were also significant repairs with at least the lower half of the rear or east wall being modern material.

Only part of the partition wall is historic material and it is not clear if any of it is original. The committee reports suggest that this wall may not have been in place in 1969.

 

Stairs

The original newel and bannister are in the attic and are quite similar to these which were installed in 1971 although the original balustrade was several inches shorter than the present one. The stairs probably did not originally have a handrail.

The simple tongue-and-groove partition wall is like the one on the first floor. It is not clear how much of the material here and elsewhere on this floor was replaced in its original position because this entire floor has been dismantled and rebuilt. The door appears to be a modern replacement of the original.

The existing newel post and balustrade around the stairwell are not original although they do replicate the design of the original. The original post and bannister, without the balusters or pickets, is stored in the back attic. Probably because of its relatively low height (about 30"), it was replaced by the present, higher balustrade in 1971.

 

Room 203

Constructed without a fireplace, this room was probably used least of all the rooms in the house, at least after the Smiths’ children were grown and married. With its access to both attics, it was probably much used for storage or not used at all. What is apparently an original scuttle hole to the attic is located in the ceiling near the east wall. The access door to the attic above the rear rooms is located beneath the window on the rear wall.

 

Kitchen

As noted above, construction of the kitchen appears to have been more or less contemporaneous with that of the main house. However, like most such buildings, it was subjected to numerous changes and additions over the years. One of the typical additions was a dining room, especially after Emancipation made convenience more of an issue. An addition was made to the present south side of the Tullie Smith kitchen that appears in all but the first photograph of the house. Except for a few photographs, this addition was not documented before its demolition in 1969 but it could have been built almost anytime after the Civil War.

If the roof decking is original and was reinstalled correctly, the patched areas in the southeast corner of the present roof could represent repairs that were made after removal of a stove chimney. Mounted on iron brackets between the ceiling joists, these small brick chimneys were a common feature in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with many antebellum, open-hearth kitchens being retrofitted with them as the use of affordable cast-iron cook stoves became widespread after the Civil War. Perhaps this occurred in conjunction with construction of the kitchen addition and with boarding of the walls and ceilings. If such a chimney were ever a feature of the kitchen, it had been removed by the 1920s or 1930s when the first photographs of the kitchen were taken.

Tullie’s niece remembered that, by the 1930s, the old kitchen was being used as a dining room and a new kitchen had been created in the addition with Tullie cooking on a six-burner kerosene stove. It is evident from the photographs that the end of the addition was resided with 8" siding like that on the cellar entrance sometime before 1930, perhaps in conjunction with conversion of this room into a more modern kitchen in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.

Sometime after the early 1950s, Tullie created a new kitchen for herself in Room 104 and added a new room to the rear of the original kitchen and its addition. This created a complete apartment which, with the bathroom on the breezeway, was separate from the main house.

Although Moore remembered the kitchen and the chimney being moved without dismantling of the structure, the building was heavily restored in 1971. Only three of the seven joists in the structure are original and all of the flooring is modern material. A significant portion of the wall framing was also replaced with original studs identified by the regular pattern of nail holes on their faces. These holes were left after removal of the 3½" tongue-and-groove boards, visible in the photographs, with which the interior walls were finished in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Because the ceiling joists, rafters, and decking are blackened by smoke (and some of the new wood disguised by black paint), it is difficult to tell old from new material but much of it appears to be original. Nearly all of the exterior siding dates to 1971, except on the east end where that on the north side of the chimney and in the upper part of the gable on the south side of the chimney appears to be historic.

Mitchell believed that the 4/4 window (approximately 1'-10" x 3'-9") toward the rear of the present north wall of the kitchen was the only original kitchen window that had survived.  The reasoning for restoration of the others is not known. Since these kitchens were usually constructed with opposing windows for good cross-ventilation across the hearth, it seems reasonable that the window opposite it on the south wall was there originally, although it had been replaced by a door into the addition prior to 1969. Although the framing around the south window had to be partially reconstructed in 1971, it would appear that the framing for it, the opposite window on the north wall, and the door were framed in a similar fashion with larger 4" x 6" posts placed originally on either side of each opening. The fact that no such posts exist at the other window opening suggests that the building may have originally had only the two windows at the east end of the building.    

However, in 1969, there was a small 4-light sash installed on the present south side of the kitchen door that was not restored. Since such a small window did not require special framing, it could have been inserted between the two studs to the left of the door. This window would have been most convenient for the Smiths, allowing visual communication from the dining room into the kitchen in bad weather when the doors might be closed. The committee’s reason for not restoring it is not known.

The documentation for creation of the present cellar under the kitchen in 1971 has not been located. No photographs of it were made, if it existed, on the original site and Mueller does not mention it. It is also not mentioned in Mitchell’s notes although it was included in Leavell’s specifications.

 

Breezeway

Unlike the side cellar entrance, the breezeway, or “Potomac” as the family called it, was a feature of the house that the family appears to have taken as an original feature.  Unfortunately, except for its basic plan that was recorded by Mueller and some photographs that show most of its significant features including the juncture of its roof line and floor with the main house and kitchen, the breezeway was not documented prior to its demolition in 1969 and was not reconstructed in 1971. Like the window on the front of the kitchen, there is no record of precisely why the decision was made not to reconstruct the breezeway.

While breezeways between kitchen and house were not universal like front and back porches, they were very common throughout the nineteenth century. Used as a back porch, complete with rocking chairs and swing, the breezeway at Tullie Smith was a tremendously useful space, providing as it did the covered, outdoor work space so common in back porches all across the South. It was also where Mary Ella Smith, and probably Elizabeth Smith as well, sat to churn their butter.[16]  It was probably an early addition, like the changes to the front porch, or occurred in conjunction with other changes later in the nineteenth century, since it is difficult to believe that the house had no such covered, utilitarian work space on the kitchen, the back of the house or both.

 

 

Notes

1. The original version of this report submitted to the Atlanta History Center in January 1997 included a number of black-and-white photographs of the house and its kitchen as they stood at that time. Images in the present version of that report are contemporaneous with those images, but do not include any of them. In 1993, the entire Tullie Smith site was inventoried and the condition of the buildings assessed by Beth Grashof from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The building maintenance and repair plans that she developed for each building are invaluable tools for guiding continued preservation of the structures on the site.  An executive summary of her inventory of the main house was very useful in the course of the present study. In a very few instances, the present study would suggest a higher valuation of the existing material of the house than that suggested by Grashof.

2. See Appendix, Leavell Specifications, pp. 3-4.

3. Lane, Rambler in Georgia, p. 177.

4. Rebecca Latimer Felton, Country Life in Georgia in the Days of My Youth (Atlanta, 1919), p. 34.

5. See p. 3.

6. Although there appear to have been some later alterations to the chamfering of the sill, the character of what remains, including the “ghost” left by the door jamb, indicate work from a very early date and probably from the original construction of the house.

7. The presence of this joist at this location is the kind of clue that the committee may have found, but did not record, for the original location of the stairs to the second floor.

8. Sparks, p. 12.

9. Sparks, p. 12.

10. William Seale, Recreating the Historic House Interior (American Association of State and Local History, 1979), p. 48.

11. Quoted in Mills Lane, Architecture of the Old South:  Georgia (Savannah, 1986), p. 39.  The Burdette House has all of these features, including the primitive wooden latches.

12. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs, Vol. 1, p. 565.

13. Apparently, the Smiths’ need for a fireplace in the basement was greater than their need for one in 202 and the expense of three flues was deemed unnecessary since there is no evidence that 202 ever had a fireplace.

14. With a fire in the basement fireplace, heat rising through the stairwell would have probably kept this room from being intolerably cold. 

15. The video taken during the replacement of the floors in 1985 shows a nailing pattern on the tops of the first floor joists that indicates the flooring then being removed was the original floor.

16. Sparks, p. 12.

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