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Bulloch Hall Holds a Special Place in Georgia and American History

By S. Mathur

The Bulloch family played a prominent role in Georgia since the days of the Revolutionary War. Bulloch Hall, built in 1839 for James Stephens Bulloch and his second wife Martha Stewart Elliott, is likewise tied to the history of the antebellum South, the Civil War, and two American Presidents in the twentieth century.

Gwen Koehler, Education Director, describes the graceful exterior: "The impressive Greek Revival structure with a full pedimented portico is considered one of the most significant homes in Georgia, and a fine example of true temple form architecture. The house and grounds have been closely restored to its original appearance. The house was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places by the United Stated Department of Interior."

Mittie Bulloch, the second daughter of James and Martha, was born in this house and married Theodore Roosevelt of New York here. Their son, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. became the 26th President of the United States in 1901. Mittie and Theodore Jr.'s granddaughter was Eleanor Roosevelt, who married Franklin Delano Roosevelt and became of one the most beloved of America's First Ladies.

The museum room contains detailed information about the family: the family tree, the early settlement of Roswell, the building of the house, Mittie's marriage to Theodore Roosevelt in 1853, and the divided sympathies of the family during the Civil War. Mittie's two brothers, James Dunwody Bulloch and Irvine Stephens Bulloch, were part of the Confederate Navy and their story is told in the Civil War Exhibit. Famous guests at the house included Margaret Mitchell, who may have used the house as a model for Tara in Gone With the Wind, and President Theodore Roosevelt.

There is a sadder side to this history and the museum does not avoid the issues of slavery and the removal of the Cherokee Indians that made the land available to the settlers in the first place. The exhibits include two sets of slave quarters on the grounds. Educational events for children include information on life under slavery and the Cherokee Removal.

Events throughout the year emphasize the history and events connected with the house. The Magnolia Ball with music, dancing, food and a Silent Auction is the largest fundraiser. Special events for Halloween and Christmas emphasize local traditions. Koehler adds that "Christmas events include High Teas, Children's Program, and the living history presentation of Mittie and Thee's wedding."

The ground include the carriage house, gardens and the two wells that were used to supply the house with water. The gardens add to the beauty of the house, says Koehler: "The grounds host 142 trees on the Historic Trees Register. On the grounds there is a service yard area restored to the 1839 appearance, an Exhibit on Slavery in the Piedmont, nature trail and outbuildings. The National Wildlife Federation indicates that this is a Certified Wildlife Habitat."

The outdoor spaces - the Pavilion, Osage Terrace room and Memorial brick patio - can be rented for special events. Mittie's Garden is available for weddings in the afternoons and evenings.

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