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Posted on November 20, 2020 at 9:02 AM by Allison Duncan
We can learn a great deal about the Sweetwater Park Hotel from other well-documented sites in Georgia. See our previous post on The Hotel Era, Part 1. The hotel was lost to fire in 1912, but not all is lost of that era. In 1999, Douglas County undertook a countywide historic resources survey, including the Lithia Springs area. It identified a number of extant resources that were contemporary to the hotel. At the time, nine resources were deemed to be potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Four of the nine structures are still extant.
Lithia Springs Tea Room – 3851 Temple Street: Constructed in 1888, the Lithia Springs Tea Room was originally the Parrymon House. The rooms and porches of the Tea Room overlooked the Rose Mound, which featured a gazebo on top. The mound was located on twelve acres of the Sweetwater Park Hotel Grounds. National figures, even US presidents, came to Lithia Springs to visit the Sweetwater Chataqua and Sweetwater Hotel. It is known that a number of these visitors frequented the Tea Room on these visits. This site was demolished sometime between 2002 and 2007.
Kindergarten School House – 6784 Miller Street: Constructed around 1890, or shortly thereafter, this building is said to have served as a kindergarten for the Sweetwater Chatauqua teacher’s children. It is also believed to be the first kindergarten in the State of Georgia. It is still extant.
Maxwell House – 6655 Marsh Avenue: Constructed around 1888, the Maxwell House is the home W.G. Maxwell, the Lithia Springs Depot agent. It was identified in 1999 as a very nice example of a New South Cottage. Many of the architectural features, including decorative spindles and gingerbread vergeboard, are typical of late 19th century architecture. This property is extant, and has been used as a restaurant.
Sweetwater Cottage – 6660 S. Sweetwater Road: Constructed around 1890 or shortly thereafter, this building was constructed as a summer rental cottage for people who came to the Chataqua or to visit the springs and health spa. The site is no longer extant, but a physical description in the survey notes describes its continuous fieldstone porch base and fieldstone on foundation corners. It was built on a raised basement and had wood clapboard siding. This structure has been demolished, likely shortly before or after 2010.
Dr. Christopher Columbus Garrett House – 6720 Sweetwater Road: Constructed around 1885, or shortly thereafter, this was the home of Dr. Christopher Columbus Garrett, one of the first resident physicians for the Sweetwater Park Hotel. Three generations of Garrett doctors lived in the residence (Dr. Luke Garrett and Dr. Luke Garrett Jr., both of whom served terms as mayor). The family doctor’s office has been moved to the site of the Lithia Springs Water Company.
Folk Victorian House - 6725 S. Sweetwater Road: Constructed around 1885 or shortly thereafter, this house was identified as a good example of a Folk Victorian Cottage. This include front transom and sidelights at the door. Decorative elements including turned porch posts, porch cornice frieze and three-sided bay window were character defining features. The house had a continuous stone foundation, and a stone retaining wall is still visible on the property. The house has been demolished, likely around 2005.
DW Bennett Grocery Store – corner of Watson Road and US 78: This building was constructed around 1915 or shortly thereafter and is identified as a nice example of a turn-of-the-century general store. It identifies that it was used as a grocery store and gas station. Typical of this era, it featured a large porte cochere in front supported by full-height brick piers. Residential space was located on an upper floor and accessed through a side veranda. This structure has been demolished, likely sometime after 2002.
Summerlin-Bowden House – 3014 Bankhead Highway: Constructed around 1840, the house was erected by Joseph Summerlin in the late 1840s and became a post office, store and stagecoach between Atlanta and Alabama. The area was then known as Salt Springs. In the 1850s Summerlin’s daughter Mary married John C. Bowden, who began to operate the house and Inn. After Summerlin’s death in 1860, the house became known as the Bowden House. At that time, the plantation included 600 acres and considerable livestock. In time, the plantation would include 5500 acres in three counties. Bowden became postmaster of Salt Springs in 1859 and in 1864 was commissioned judge of the Inferior Court of Campbell County. In 1865 the house served as CSS Col Boyles Headquarters. Boyles was commander of Gen Hood’s right flank. Bowden later became a principle figure in the creation of the health resort and town of Lithia Springs. IN the early 1880s Bowden sold 700 acres of his land, including the famed springs, to developers who wanted to bottle the waters and to develop a health resort around the Springs. Bowden however retained the rights to the water, thus making him the first owner of the Bowden Lithia Bottling Company.
Garrett Doctor’s Office – corner of Peachtree Street and US 78: This building was constructed around 1875, or shortly thereafter. It was the office of Dr. Christopher Columbus Garrett, a resident physician for the Sweetwater Park Hotel. The office was moved to the site of the Lithia Springs Water Company to serve as an office for the recently revived company which began on the site in 1887. The building now serves as the Family Doctor Museum and is filled with medical furnishings from the collections of three generations of Garrett Doctors.
Other notable structures that would have been roughly contemporary to the Hotel Era include the houses at
The photos and descriptions above are extracted from the Douglas County Historic Resources Survey. A copy was obtained from the Douglas County Museum of History and Art.
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