Between the Rivers Historic District

                  Pen and ink sketches of some of the buildings on the tour

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     Welcome to "Between the Rivers", Rome's beautiful historic district. This area, which lies between the Etowah, Ostanaula, and Coosa Rivers, is the site of Rome's founding in 1834 and where early business and industry served the new town. The first steamboat came to Rome in 1836, marking the beginning of a thriving river trade. Steamboats measuring up to 170 feet in length sailed the rivers carrying cargo, mail and passengers. In 1839, the Rome Railroad was chartered. By 1860 Rome had a bank, a newspaper, a college, churches and was the busy hub of trade from Calhoun, Georgia to Gadsden, Alabama.

     The Civil War soon followed, bringing an end to this period of prosperity. In 1864 the Union troops occupied Rome from May until November. When General Sherman left Rome on November 10 for his March to Atlanta, most of Rome was burned by his troops. The buildings may have been burned, but not the "never say die" spirit of the citizens of Rome. They worked to rebuild a town that would be bigger and better than ever.

     The rebirth that began between the rivers in downtown, became the finest Victorian city center in Georgia. Broad Street is the second widest main street in the state. The trees which once lined the middle of Broad Street to provide shade for the horses were put back during the Streetscape Project in the 1980"s. Many of the facades of downtown are being restored. To appreciate the beauty of Broad Street, look up to see the tops of the buildings, the spires, the gargoyles and other adornments that make this street unique.

     As you leave our 1901 train depot, we invite you to take a magical journey into our heritage. Explore downtown and gaze at the lovely houses and churches that stretch from Broad Street southeast to the Etowah River. Visit the beautiful Clocktower which has kept watch over Georgia's Rome since 1871. The "Between the Rivers Historic District" sits in the shadow of this magnificent landmark, an area that looks with reverence to our past and with hope for the future.

     Enjoy your visit and please come back to Georgia's Rome!

Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  Historic District Map

The homes on this tour are private residence and are not open to the public.

1.   Rome Visitor Center: Provides a warm welcome and lots of information on what to see and do in Rome. Located on one of Rome's seven hills, the Visitor Center is housed in a 1901 train depot with an attached caboose. Cassette driving tour and video tapes are available upon request. Mon-Fri., 9am-5pm; Sat 10am-3pm; Sun noon-3pm. Closed major holidays.

2.   700 Broad Street.1867.  The archictual style of Metropolitan United Methodist Church is basically Roman Basilica with accents of the Gothic Art Form. The structure is unique, in that the walls are sixteen inches thick, of solid brick. It stands today on the same site as when it was first organized. Some of the earlier members attended private school in a building at the rear of the church before public schools were established.

3.   607 Broad Street, 1911.  One of the thirty original libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie in Georgia This structure has been restored to a viable community use as an office building.

4.   601 Broad Street,1915-16.  Rome's municipal offices and the City Auditorium. Is is also home to the Rome Symphony Orchestra, the oldest symphony orchestra in the South.

5.   603 West First Street, 1867.  Named "Nemophia" from the Greek meaning of "love of pastured woodlands", this house was a wedding gift from Col. Wade S. Cothran to his daughter Anna, upon her marriage to Robert Hoyt, a rising young druggist. It has also been called the "Magnolia Home" because of the giant tree, planted during the same year the house was constructed, which dominates the front yard. This house has been occupied by the same family since 1867.

6.   615 West First Street, c.1850.  This house was built by Nicholas Omberg before the Civil War. Mr. Omberg was a member of the Home Guard of 41 Romans who refused to leave the city after the union invasion in May of 1864. After the occupation ended, Omberg was shot down by renegade marauders within a stone's throw of the house as he attempted to prevent the robbing and hanging of a friend. It was in this house that Dr. Robert Battey performed the first oophorectomy on the kitchen table., Although many were certain the patient would die, Julia Omberg lived for fifty years longer and died at age 80.

7.   321 Broad Street.  Opera Alley was the side entrance to the famous Nevin Opera House which opened in 1880. The Opera House brought a rich tradition in the performing arts to Rome. Opera companies and symphonies from around the world performed here. Perhaps the greatest performance occurred in 1909 when the Dresden Symphony Orchestra included Rome in its American tour. This orchestra was the greatest musical group ever brought to America at that time. The Nevin Opera House burned in 1919.

8.  Cotton Block.  100 Block, Broad Street, 1870-1890. The Cotton Block is Rome's, most intact historic block. It generated the majority of wealth during the 1800's. Rome was then a river port and rail center, important for the cotton trade that centered on this block. The majority of the structures were cotton brokerage houses, warehouses, liveries or general mercantile houses. Broad Street from the Cotton Block to Fifth Avenue was raised approximately 15 feet in the late 19th century because of flooding.

9.   Myrtle Hill Cemetery.   Established 1857.  Located atop one of Rome's magnificent seven hills, Myrtle Hill is unusual for its excellent scenic view of the city and its picturesque markers and monuments. This cemetery is the final resting place of First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson, wife of President Woodrow Wilson, as well as the young man selected as the "Known Soldier" from World War I and 377 soldiers who died in Civil War battles around Rome.

10.   210 Broad Street.  Wyatt's, one of Rome's oldest stores is an excellent example of the Post Civil War architecture found in the building which line Broad Street. For generations many young Romans came here to buy their school supplies. The building was build prior to 1890.

11.   13 East Third Avenue,1892.  At this location, approximately 10 to 15 feet below the present level, lies the spring around which three of Rome's founders, Col. David C. Mitchell, Col. Zachariah B. Hargrove and Major Philip Hemphill met in 1834 and decided to establish a town.

12.   336 Broad Street.1877.  This imposing Gothic Revival structure is the second Masonic Temple built on this site. The original was burned by General Sherman and his troops. A number of the Union soldiers, who were Masons also, realized their mistake and sent a large contribution to Rome for the rebuilding of the lodge. In April of 1886, Rome's worst flood, cresting at 40.3 feet, inundated the building with seven feet of water.

13.   101 West Fifth Avenue.1892.  The Historic Floyd County Courthouse is a Romanesque style structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the 26th oldest standing courthouse in Georgia. Parts of the courthouse are reinforced with steel rails, twisted by the invading Yankee army during the Civil War, when they destroyed the rail lines. The "Flame of Freedom" on the lawn is a tribute to veterans-past, present and future.

14.   528 Broad Street.1929.  Classic Revival architecture. This theater, build at a cost of $110,000.00, was the first movie house in the Southeast designed specifically for sound. Its electrical equipment was the same as that used in New York City's famed Roxy Theater. The Desoto Theatre is presently the home of the Rome Little Theater.

15.   104 East Sixth Avenue,1856.  This "country" type home built as the original parsonage for the First Methodist Church, formerly located next door, which was the first Methodist church built in the state of Georgia north of Atlanta. This house remained as the parsonage until 1888. Later use has been as a boarding house and law offices. It currently houses two radio stations, and advertising company and a digital communications company.

16.   106 East Sixth Avenue,1852.  Col. Daniel R. Mitchell, one of Rome's founders, gave the Methodist congregation this entire block between East First and East Second Street for a church. The brick building that began as the First Methodist Church is the present-day Saint Paul AME Church, and is now covered in stucco to protect dissolving bricks of the 1840's era. During the war Between The States, this building was used as a stable by Union troops.

17.   Corner of East Second Street and East Fifth Avenue.  Situated on one of the seven hills of Rome, the old City Clock stands in the center of the city, atop the town's first water reservoir. This reservoir was designed by Mr. John Noble to serve as the new water system installed in 1871. The clock was made by the E. Howard Clock Co. of Waltham, Massachusetts, and was shipped to Rome on October 7, 1872. The structure, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, now houses a museum.

18.   207 East Fifth Avenue,1872.  This Victorian house has eight fireplaces, l2' ceilings, and a curved stairway. The cook's outbuilding is now attached to the main structure. For many years this was the rectory for St. Peter's Episcopal Church.

19.   301 East Fifth Avenue,1900.  This clapboard cottage was once the home of nationally known golfer, Alvin Everett. Mr. Everett won the National Left-handers Golf Tournament three times and was responsible for an interest in the game of golf in the Rome area that continues today.

20.   318 East Fifth Avenue,c. 1876.  This Victorian cottage was built as rental property. Most of the homes on Fifth Avenue housed more than one family during the late 1800's and early 1900's. On the mantle of the living room (which was a bedroom during the time of boarders) there is a message, "Henry Taylor left Rome in 1908". The message was hammered in, upside down, using a square nail! The gingerbread eaves are original to the house.

21.   316 East Fourth Avenue,1905.  Home of the late Judge Fredrick Kelly. The house was a wedding gift to Maybeth Sullivan Graham from her father. When she sold the house to the Printup sisters, a stipulation required that they live in the upstairs rooms of the house until their deaths. They did so even after Judge Kelly had purchased it! It is said that their ghosts still inhabit the house, often turning on the lights in their upstairs rooms at night. The house has stained glass and leaded windows, solid brass doorknobs and copper firescreen.

22.   319 East Fourth Avenue,1891.  A Victorian cottage featuring gingerbread inside and outside. The crown molding in the entry foyer, living room and dining room is formed of seven pieces. Long before the house was built General Sherman's horses grazed on the lawn.

23.   312 East Fourth Avenue,1911.  General Sherman stayed in the original house on this lot during his time in Rome. The house was burned when he left. The famous photograph, "Sherman and His Officers", was taken under the oak tree in the yard area which is known as the "Sherman Oak". The present house was designed after the Gordon-Lee Mansion in Chickmauga, Georgia, some fifty miles north of Rome and near the site of the battle of Chickamauga, the bloodiest two day battle of the Civil War.

24.   304 East Fourth Avenue,1867.  One of the few Greek Revival structures in downtown Rome. The house boasts frescoed walls, hand painted ceilings, plaster rosettes on covered ceilings and plaster friezes. The structure is heart pine with original handblown cylinder glass windows under pediment lintels. The portico has Doric columns, full entablature and classical pediments. The house was once the home of the Reverend Samuel Axson., His daughter, Ellen Louise, became the wife of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States.

25.   302 East Fourth Avenue,1879.  The home's original structure dates back to an 1860 slave cabin. The present house was built by a prominent merchant by the name of Charles Bass. During the birth of twins, Mrs. Bass died from complications during birth of the second child. Many years later, the house was damaged by fire except for one wall in the living room. When workers removed a mirror that was hanging over the fireplace, they were shocked to find the uncharred outline of a mother holding two small children.

 26.   203 East Fourth Avenue,c. 1885.  A two story wooden house typical of the South after the Civil War. The porch extends across most of the front and around one side. Few alterations have been made to the house. The current owners are only the third family to make their home in the house.

27.   100 East Fourth Avenue.  The First Baptist Church was founded in 1835, the present site was purchased and a brick church was built. The church was used as hospital during the Civil War. During the Union occupation in 1864, horses were stabled in the basement and the wooden pews were removed to make pontoon bridges over the rivers. In 1883, a larger brick building was built and was used for seventy-five years. The present sanctuary was dedicated in 1958.

28.   101 East Fourth Avenue.  St. Peter's Episcopal Church was formed in 1844. The first service in this building was held on Christmas Day 1898. The church features an outstanding collection of stained glass windows. The tower was completed in 1910, which explains why the stone is not a perfect match. Over the alter in the chapel, which once served as the church. is a stained glass window given to the church in 1867 by John W. Noble, as a memorial to his family. It is said to be the finest stained glass window in Rome. Mr. Noble owned the Noble Iron Works and was instrumental in the building of the Clocktower.

29.   12 East Fourth Avenue,1896.  Old Federal Building. A detailed, neo-classical building that is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

30.   101 East Third Avenue.  The First Presbyterian Church was organized in 1833 in Livingston, Georgia, once the county seat. The congregation moved to Rome in 1845 and the present church was dedicated in 1849. The bricks were made on the Bailey Farm, below Rome on the Coosa River. In 1864, during the Union occupation, the church was used as a storehouse by the troops. It was in this church that a young Atlanta attorney, Woodrow Wilson, met Ellen Louise Axson, who later became his wife. Her father, Samuel Axson,was pastor of the church from 1866-1883 When Mrs. Wilson died at the White House in 1914, the President brought her body back to Rome for Burial. The funeral was held in this church.

31.   202 East Third Avenue.  First Methodist Church - established in 1840. The church moved to the present location on 1844. It is an outstanding example of Victorian Greek Renaissance. Of special note is the tower. The interior contains beautiful mahogany woodwork milled by O'Neil Manufacturing Company, which has been in business in Rome since 1878. The needlepoint kneelers at the altar rail were lovingly stitched by members of the church and reflect the quatrefoil design which is found in both the millwork and the stained glass windows.

32.   316 East Third Avenue,c. 1885.  A classic Victorian house, the home of Dr. Eben Hillyer who was the son of Judge Julius Hillyer. Judge Hillyer was a lawyer, a congressman, Superior Court Judge and Solicitor of the U.S. Treasury until Georgia seceded from the union.

33.   320 East Third Avenue,1893.  Queen Anne Victorian. An Irish Catholic immigrant, Thomas Fahy moved to Rome in 1868 and married a lovely young Jewish woman, Sara Jonas. Here they raised 11 children, including two musicians, a novelist, a nun, and a federal Appeals Court Justice. Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With The Wind", was a close friend of daughter Agnes and came from Atlanta to spend many weekends in this house. The family owned a department store on Broad Street from 1873 until 1974. The house was occupied only by Thomas Fahy's immediate family until 1986, when daughter Janie died at age 95. The current owners acquired the house from Fahy's great-grandson.

34.   414 East Third Avenue,1904.  Many Victorian homes had the architectural features of a floor to ceiling window, which can be seen on the left side of the porch. When a person died, they were often "laid out" in the front parlor of the house. It was considered bad luck to take the body out the front door for burial, hence the use of the side exit, referred to as the "burying window".

35.   418 East Third Avenue,1871.  "Twin Gables" was the home of Dr. Henry Halsey Battey, son of the famous surgeon Dr. Robert Battey. The Victorian gingerbread has been restored to its original state. A pocket window in the master bedroom slides into the wall and permits a doorway to the side porch. The home has four fireplaces and the original heart pine floors.

36.   420 East Third Avenue,1870. This was the home of the Gammon family, whose son Von, was the quarterback for the University of Georgia. Von died of injuries he received during the Georgia-Virginia game on October 31, 1897. His death almost led to the abolishment of football in the state. His mother, Rosalind Burns Gammon, made an impassioned plea to Governor William Y. Atkinson to veto the bill, thereby preserving the most cherished sport of her son's life.

37.   208 East Fourth Street,1870.  The property was purchased by the First Presbyterian Church in 1868. The church owned the property until 1873 and the house was built during this time. This is carpenter Gothic style home with 13 feet ceilings and a heart pine staircase. A formal boxwood garden adorns the back yard, which also has the bell from Rome's first fire department.

38.   313 East Fourth Street,1887.  This stately Victorian manor was built on one of the original land grants.

39.   317 East Fourth Street,1887.  The four rooms of this Victorian cottage each measure 15 square feet. The floors are heart pine except for the center hallway which is hard rock maple.

40.   406 East First Street.  Temple Rodeph Sholom Congregation (Pursuers of the Peace) was founded in 1871 and met for sixty-five years in a rented hall in the Masonic Temple. This Colonial style temple was dedicated in 1938. It is constructed of bricks made by Berry College students in the kilns at Berry College. The chandelier once hung in a cathedral in Belgium.

41  305 Broad Street. Rome Area History Museum. Takes you back through time with Rome's History.

Outside the Historic District:

  • Chieftains c.1790 was the home of Major Ridge, one of the leaders of the Cherokee Nation. The house is now a museum. 501 Riverside Parkway NE. (706) 291-9494. Open 10am-4pm, Tuesday - Saturday. Closed Sunday, Monday and Holidays.
  • Oak Hill Plantation c. 1847 was the home of Martha Berry, founder of Berry College. The southern plantation home is adjacent to the Martha Berry Museum near the Berry College campus. The Museum and Oak Hill are open Monday - Saturday from 10am-5pm and from 1pm-5pm on Sunday (Closed major holidays). (706) 291-1883.
  • Thornwood , 105 Shorter Avenue. The mansion of Colonel Alfred Shorter and his family was built in 1848. The house was occupied by Union Troops during the Civil War. The house is now part of the Darlington Lower School Campus.
  • Alhambra 1014 Cave Spring Road. Alhambra was built in 1832 by Major Philip Hemphill before the founding of Rome. It was here that the founders met to select the name of Rome. The house is on the upper school campus of Darlington School and serves as the home of the school President and his family.
  • Oakdene Placeis significant as an example of the planned residential suburbs that were developed beyond the Between The Rivers area of Rome, by private investment companies in the late 1870's. The Oakdene area was developed by the East Rome Land Company who built the bridge over the Etowah River on East Second Avenue. A toll was charged to cross the bridge unless the person owned property in East Rome.
  • Cave Springis a quaint village of 950 residents with 90 structures and sites on the National Register of Historical Places. The village is in scenic Vann's Valley 16 miles southwest of Rome on US Hwy 411S.