Around Town: Old Victorian on Whitlock finally boasts new owners
by Bill Kinney and Joe Kirby
Around Town Columnists
September 25, 2012 12:00 AM | 5733 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ONE OF MARIETTA’S most prominent Victorian homes has new owners after years of standing empty.

It’s officially known as the McDonald Lawrence House, but is probably better known to modern-era Mariettans as the yellow Victorian house with lots of “gingerbread” touches that overlooks busy Whitlock Avenue.

The two-story frame house with multiple verandas dates to around 1870 and is the new residence of Eric and Denise McGhee. Eric is a west Cobb native and owns an electrical contracting company. Denise was raised in Andover, Mass. The two drove past the home each day on the way to work for 15 years, and were intrigued by its appearance, before moving to a Buckhead condo. Then, looking to move back to Cobb, Denise came across the house on a Realtor website and contacted Johnny Sinclair of Harry Norman. The rest, as they say, is history.


THE OLD HOUSE boasts 12-foot ceilings on the main level, seven original fireplaces with the original mantles, four columned porches and handmade triple-sash windows. The 3,386-square foot house also features four bedrooms and three bathrooms.

The house at 267 Whitlock was actually built on the foundation of an earlier house that reportedly was burned by orders of an agent of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. The kitchen from the original house survives in the basement of the present house.

The home was built for Anna Liza Atkinson Lawrence, the granddaughter of Gov. Charles J. McDonald (1793-1860). Her husband was Robert de Treville Lawrence, son of one of Marietta’s most distinguished residents of the day, Col. Samuel Lawrence (namesake of Lawrence Street in downtown Marietta).

The Treville Lawrences lived with Mrs. Lawrence’s parents, Col. and Mrs. A.S. Atkinson, at their plantation house on Powder Springs Road while the Whitlock Avenue house was under construction. (The Atkinson home is now known as “The McAdoo House” and was the birthplace in 1863 of William Gibbs McAdoo, who went on to serve as Secretary of the Treasury under Woodrow Wilson and as a U.S. Senator from California.)

Meanwhile, the driveway to Gov. McDonald’s estate, known as “Kennesaw Hall,” once opened onto Whitlock directly across from the yellow house. Kennesaw Hall was burned during the Civil War. The yellow house is thought to have been one of the first homes built in Marietta after the war. The Lawrence’s son, McDonald Lawrence, grew up in the yellow house and later was hired by Marietta as its first city engineer.


LAWRENCE DESCENDANTS sold the house in 2005 to Marietta developers Adrian, Ken and Mark Kirk, who had plans of incorporating it as the centerpiece of an upscale subdivision. The surrounding acreage was cleared, but work stalled out when the economy fell into recession. Although vacant, the house was maintained by the Kirks and was used as the host location for the gala party on the opening night of the 2005 Marietta Pilgrimage Home Tour.

And Mary Ansley Southerland of W.D. Little Mortgage Corp., which financed the recent sale, told Around Town that she joked with the McGhees that, “Their financing would be contingent on taking meticulous care of the house and sharing it with the community when they can.”


A PORTRAIT of retiring Cobb Superior Court Judge Dorothy Robinson by noted Marietta artist Robert Meredith will be unveiled at an Oct. 4 dedication ceremony in the Ceremonial Courtroom at the Superior Courthouse. The public is invited to the 2:30 p.m. event. Robinson was appointed by Gov. Jimmy Carter as a State Court judge in 1972, thereby becoming the first woman in Georgia to serve as judge in a court of record. And in 1980 she became the first female judge to be elected to the Cobb Superior Court.


THE RETIREMENT PARTY for one of Cobb County’s longest-serving public officials, Cobb Superior Court Judge George Kreeger, will be at 11 a.m. Nov. 12 at the courthouse, according to Superior Court Administrator Tom Charron. Courthouse staff wanted Kreeger’s daughter, who lives in Virginia, to attend, which caused the delay. But Judge Kreeger will begin sitting over drug court on Monday Oct. 1 as a senior judge.

Kreeger grew up in Smyrna, where his father served as mayor, and represented that area in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1969-76. He was appointed as a Cobb State Court judge in 1979 by Gov. George Busbee, then appointed to the Superior Court bench in 1984 by Gov. Joe Frank Harris.


MEDIA from the world round are focusing on the Cobb murder trial of Waseem Daker, accused in the stalking-related 1995 murder of Karmen Smith and the non-fatal stabbing of her young son, Nickolas. Daker is serving as his own attorney during the trial before Superior Court Judge Mary Staley.

MDJ readers have enjoyed gavel-to-gavel coverage each day courtesy of News Editor Kim Isaza. NBC’s “Dateline” is considering an hour-long program on the trial, is sending a reporter down this week and spoke last week with Staley’s staff attorney, Staci Swit Brinson. Other media reporting on the trial have included Fuji TV from Japan, The Fulton Daily Report and the Atlanta newspaper and TV stations.


KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY will break ground today for the $3 million Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art next to the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center. The 9,200-square-foot museum will house the school’s permanent art collection and feature three exhibition galleries, as well as the LeoDelle Lassiter Jolley Foundation Collection Research Center. It will also be home to the Ruth V. Zuckerman Pavilion, a glass atrium devoted to sculptures by Zuckerman’s late wife, a renowned sculptor. KSU’s permanent collection has grown to more than 1,000 items, including works by the likes of Rembrandt Peale and Norman Rockwell.


ATLANTA Mayor Kasim Reed will host a fundraiser from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. this evening for state Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna) at The Commerce Club in downtown Atlanta.
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