“This was a happy house, a happy place to grow up. It will go on as a happy home,” said Jim Brown, whose mother, Frances Irvin Brown, owns the property. She recently moved to an assisted living facility to be closer to her son and daughter-in-law, Natalie, residents of Blue Ridge.
“My grandmother’s family is the tie to the property,” said Brown, a fourth generation Marietta native.
In 1918, Brown’s great grandparents, Kitty and Thaddeus Gaines, moved their family with Brown’s grandmother, Macy Gaines, to Whitlock Avenue when it was a gravel road. The Gaines family came to Marietta from Townville, S.C., to educate their daughters. The two eldest children remained in South Carolina.
The Gaines family was forced to leave their first home in Marietta, Idle Hurst on Kennesaw Mountain, after the property it sat on was designated a national park.
“The house set up there on a hill (off the east side of Burnt Hickory Road adjacent to the Anderson property near the intersection of Polk Street). There is a fire road on the right (before Old Mountain Road and the path toward Kennesaw Mountain) that goes to Kennesaw Avenue. My grandmother made that road with her brothers and a mule,” he said.
“When the federal government designated (the national park), they tore down the house. All that is left is some pieces of marble that ladies used to step into carriages,” said Brown, a Marietta High School graduate. He lived in the Whitlock Avenue home until 1984 when he moved to Florida to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Brown’s grandmother married John Thomas Irvin and they raised Brown’s mother, an only child, on Whitlock Avenue. John Thomas Irvin died when Frances was 8 years old.
“While he was sick, Miss Nell (Nell Manning) took care of mom, Aymar (Manning) and mom’s best friend Alice (Manning),” Brown said.
“Grandma raised my mom as a single parent here,” he added.
Brown’s mother married James A. Brown of Buffalo, N.Y.
“My grandmother lived upstairs and we lived downstairs. We were all in the house together,” said Brown, an only child. “My grandmother was a part of my life until she died at age 97 in 1997.”
Many artifacts in the home date back to 1816 when the family lived on Kennesaw Mountain. During that time, Brown’s great grandfather owned a sawmill on the west side of Burnt Hickory Road near the home. “I even have a dough bowl that (great grandfather) made,” Brown said.
Brown’s great grandparents both passed away while they lived in the Whitlock Avenue house.
“Both my grandparents were laid out in the bedroom (now the dining room) when they died. They did their viewing here,” he said.
Although Brown’s grandmother, Macy, added on to the back of the home to allow for a larger kitchen in the mid 1930s, the home retains its original structure. Brown found meticulous records that his grandmother kept such as a 1928 tax bill on the property in the amount of $28.75. Macy worked as a bookkeeper for Owens Flower Shop owned by Margaret and Glenn Owens Sr., both deceased.
“It hurts. It does. We don’t have children. If we would have had a family, it might have made a difference. As heavy as my heart is to have to sell it, I’m happy under the circumstances that mom is still alive,” Jim said.
“I would like to see a family get the home,” Brown said.
Email Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.