If you’ve driven past the William Root House on North Marietta Parkway near the Marietta Square Market recently, you’ve probably noticed some modern-day construction equipment around the circa 1845 Marietta home.
Cobb Landmarks, which owns and operates the Root House Museum, is in the midst of a $685,000 capital expansion project with the goal of adding a historic Cobb County log cabin and brick smokehouse to the property as well as adding exhibit space, meeting space, a research library, visitor restrooms and staff offices.
Cobb Landmarks Executive Director Trevor Beemon said the circa 1830 875-square-foot antebellum cabin known as the Manning cabin made the trip from Powder Springs by truck late last year, and the project’s construction phase began early this year. Underground site work is complete, and the entire construction project is on track to be completed this fall.
Beemon said the number of visitors to the house has grown significantly over the years, but a lack of space has limited the type of programs that could be put on.
“The added space of 1,600 square feet will allow better interpretation, more space for exhibits and programs and consolidation of office space currently housed inside the Root House,” he said. “The completion of this expansion project, named The Next Generation, will enable us to expand our educational programs, consolidate administrative space and interpret an additional upstairs bedroom in the Root House after the office space is relocated.”
PerspectivesGuests to the Root House will notice some other modern touches to the historic home. As part of the second phase of the project, which Cobb Landmarks is calling “Perspectives,” touch screen panels will be added to each room in the place.
“The screens will play scripted videos describing each room with professional actors offering insight into the space from the perspective of an adult member of the Root family, a child and an enslaved person,” Beemon said. “We think this presentation approach will be the first of its kind in the region.”
Beemon said Perspectives will also include an expanded interpretation of the four enslaved persons living in the pre-war household, researched from family archives and from scholarship published about similar households of the period.
The total cost estimate for the Perspectives initiative is $78,000, consisting mainly of video production, video editing and technology hardware. The city of Marietta issued a $20,000 grant for the development of Perspectives. While the construction portion of the project is fully funded, Cobb Landmarks is seeking donations to raise the remaining $58,000 for Perspectives, Beemon said.
According to the Root House’s website, the number of visitors to the museum grew from 1,742 to 8,064 between 2013 and 2016, an increase of more than 300%.
Beemon said the recently opened market has been bringing in even more visitors, to the tune of an anticipated economic impact of $317,000 in tourism dollars spent in the year 2020, according to Cobb Travel and Tourism. He said the expansion along with the new technology will help make sure those visitors keep coming back.
“Cobb Landmarks realizes that today’s and future generations of consumers of history and culture want a different experience,” he said. “This transition to expand our technology is essential to our future relevance and appeal to students and visitors.”