History Podcasts

Atlanta History Center

Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta History Center is situated in the Buckhead District of Atlanta, near the governor’s mansion in West Paces Ferry.Founded in 1926 as the Atlanta Historical Society, it offers historical perspectives for all ages, integrating history, education, and life-enrichment programs. The organization's name was changed to the Atlanta History Center in 1990.The center houses the Atlanta History Museum, a research library and archives, two historic houses illustrating more than a century of Atlanta’s history, a two-acre midtown campus that houses the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, and a series of gardens unique in both design and horticultural presentation.Inspired by the 1986 gift of the DuBose Collection, one of the nation’s premier assemblages of Civil War artifacts, the history center launched a $15 million capital campaign in early 1989, to build and equip the museum.The museum was opened in October 1993 with five award-winning exhibitions, including Metropolitan Frontiers.It boasts a regional collection and houses objects dating from the early-19th century to the present. Visitors received a balanced view of the history of Atlanta, Georgia, and the South, at the museum.The Kenan Research Center collects primary and secondary source materials in all formats relating to the history of the area and the culture of the American South. The research center also operates a number of special libraries.The Atlanta History Center maintains two historic houses, Swan House and the Tullie Smith Farm.Swan House, built in 1928, is an elegant mansion listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built for the Inman family and designed by well-known Atlanta architect, Philip Trammell Shutze.Tullie Smith Farm, a typical Piedmont Georgia farm from nearby Dekalb County, also is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Built around 1845 in DeKalb County for Robert Smith, the Tullie Smith has a plantation-plain house furnished with antiques of the period and surrounded by authentic outbuildings.The Atlanta History Center Museum Shop features an assortment of merchandise.Facilities for conferences and parties also are available.


Atlanta History Center

Atlanta History Center is a history museum and research center located in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, Georgia. The Museum was founded in 1926 and currently consists of nine permanent, and several temporary, exhibitions. Atlanta History Center’s campus is 33-acres and features historic gardens and houses located on the grounds, including Swan House, Smith Farm, and Wood Family Cabin. Atlanta History Center’s Midtown Campus includes the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum. The History Center’s research arm, Kenan Research Center, includes 3.5 million resources and a reproduction of historian Franklin Garrett's (1906–2000) office. Atlanta History Center holds one of the largest collections of Civil War artifacts in the United States.


History

Founded in 1926 as the Atlanta Historical Society, the original organization was dedicated to preserving the city's history through lectures, journal articles, research and the collection of artifacts. In 1990, the society and its holdings officially became the Atlanta History Center, which opened on its current campus in 1993 with five permanent exhibitions, including its first dedicated to the city's history: "Metropolitan Frontiers." Since then, the museum has expanded to six permanent exhibitions, a research library, extensive gardens and historical structures.


The Atlanta History Center

In 1926, 14 civic-minded Atlantans chartered the Atlanta Historical Society to help preserve the city’s history. These founding members met at each other’s homes, collected early manuscripts and photographs, and published research bulletins – all “to arouse in the citizens and friends of Atlanta an interest in its history.” Over the past 88 years, the organization has grown substantially and in 1990, the Atlanta Historical Society and all of its holdings officially became the Atlanta History Center. The Atlanta History Center is a unique campus that houses the Atlanta History Museum, Centennial Olympic Games Museum, Swan House, Smith Family Farm, six historic gardens, three historic houses, the Kenan Research Center and the Margaret Mitchell House, located off-site at the Midtown campus. Visitors are transported back in time to explore the lifestyles of Atlantans from the 1860s through the 1930s.

Award-winning exhibitions, historic houses, enchanting gardens, interactive experiences, and a variety of year-round adult and family programs truly offer something for everyone looking to explore our region’s past. Admission tickets are all-inclusive of all History Center attractions, and guests enjoy free parking. For hours of operation and ticketing info, CLICK HERE.

Acreage

Amenities

Atlanta History Museum, Centennial Olympic Games Museum, Swan House, Smith Family Farm, six historic gardens, the Kenan Research Center. Historic houses, The Smith Family Farm (registered as the Tullie Smith Farm), and the Swan House.

Surrounding Neighborhoods

Peachtree Heights West, Buckhead Village, and Tuxedo Park

Location

The Atlanta History Center is conveniently located off of I-75 at 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW Atlanta, GA 30305


The History of the Atlanta History Center

Nearly a century ago in 1926 a group of civic-minded Atlantans led by attorney Walter McElreath chartered the Atlanta Historical Society. The goals were to study, investigate, and preserve the archives of Atlanta and the state of Georgia, and to bring about greater interest in its history. The organization operated out of a variety of locations during its early years, including office space at the Biltmore Hotel, a dreamed-of but never constructed site at the corner of Peachtree and 16th Streets, the Erlanger Theatre building, and the Willis B. Jones house at the corner of Peachtree and Huntington Roads (which was for a time called McElreath Hall).

In 1966 the Society purchased the estate of Mrs. Edward H. Inman which included 23 acres of wooded terrain and the 1928 Swan House designed by Philip Trammell Shutze. In the years that followed they continued buying houses along West Paces Ferry Road and expanded their footprint to what is now 33 acres.

The Swan House, photo by Jason Hales / Atlanta History Center

The Tullie Smith Farm House was later moved to the site as was a Victorian playhouse, and in 1975 the Walter McElreath Hall was constructed which includes the Woodruff Auditorium, Members Room, and the Kenan Research Center. A campaign raised $16.1 million to construct the 83,000 square foot Atlanta History Museum at its current site in 1990. Expansions in 1993 and from 1998 to 2001 added to the facility even more.

It was only a few years ago in 2017 that the Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting was moved from Grant Park to the Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker building which was constructed thanks to a $10 million endowment pledged to the History Center in 2014 and brought the total amount raised for this effort to a whopping $35.2 million.

Relocating the cyclorama was a massive undertaking and restoration took 15 months. We covered the grand opening of the exhibit back in February of 2019, which now includes interactive monitors, dynamic digital displays, and a selection of objects and images that illustrate the artifact’s long history.

A number of exhibitions rotate through the museum, touching upon a variety of interests from Native Americans to the Civil War to the legacy of Barbecue. Around 60 lecturers are brought in to speak at the facility each year, and the Center hosts events throughout the grounds for holidays and special occasions which draw families, young professionals, and history buffs alike.

Atlanta History Center Images courtesy Jason Hales / Atlanta History Center


1. Communicate the mission and offerings.
Clearly convey the Atlanta History Center’s expanse — its properties, gardens, programs, and vastness of the archives, as well as untangling its identity. Directly and organically build awareness of its depth and diversity while tying each unique element to the overall mission.

2. Extend the on-site experience digitally.
Become a central venue for the Atlanta History Center to collect, create, and organize, and immersively display its content. Empower the organization to communicate a broader understanding of our shared and complex history, and foundationally serve as a public resource while supplementing and expanding the on-site activities with rich digital content that adds perspective and evokes curiosity.

Expand on the existing design system — typography, layout, and semantics — to appeal to a modern, dynamic, diverse culture. Evoke feelings of being physically on the 33-acre grounds within an equally exciting digital experience.

4. Build national relevance.
Broadcast the national relevance of Atlanta in historical, cultural, geographic, and economic terms. Strive to be a national destination for recounting the region’s complex history and importance, and nimble enough to react and add perspective to current national events.

5. Increase revenue.
Open more doors for memberships, donations, ticketing, and sales of goods and services.

Magical results transpire when thoughtful strategy, aspiring creative, and meticulous development mix with a brilliant and ambitious client. Our work with the Atlanta History Center unlocks the vast breadth and depth of the museum, within a dynamic design that encourages discovery, generates delight, and creates a robust virtual platform for exhibits.


Atlanta History Center

Founded in 1926, the Atlanta History Center is an all-inclusive thirty-three acre destination featuring the Atlanta History Museum, one of the Southeast’s largest history museums two historic houses, the 1928 Swan House and the Tullie Smith Farm the Centennial Olympic Games Museum the Kenan Research Center the Grand Overlook event space Chick-fil-A at the Coca-Cola Cafe, a museum shop, and acres of historic gardens and trails.

In addition, the History Center operates the Margaret Mitchell House. Located in Midtown Atlanta, the two-acre campus features tours of the house and apartment where Margaret Mitchell wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gone With the Wind, an exhibit highlighting the life and times of Margaret Mitchell, a Gone with the Wind movie exhibit, and a museum shop.

For more information on Atlanta History Center offerings, hours of operation, and admission, visit AtlantaHistoryCenter.com.

Safety Measures

Capacity limitations for the entire campus will be monitored through timed ticket blocks. Face coverings are required for both staff and guests in all indoor locations.


Goizueta Gardens at the Atlanta History Center

Tucked away in the middle of Buckhead is a sprawling 33-acre property known as the Atlanta History Center. Within its grounds you’ll find a museum, historic farmsteads and mansions that have been preserved since the 1800s, and the future home for the Cyclorama, all situated around a 25 foot deep quarry and connected via a series of woodland trails. The Buckhead branch of Peachtree creek runs along the southern side of the quarry and is rumored to be the location wherein an early settler to the area killed a buck and mounted its horns within a nearby tavern. The tavern came to be known as Buck’s Head, which later became the entire area’s name – Buckhead.

The quarry was mined for stone from around 1880 to 1920, after which it was mostly forgotten as the city grew nearby. Those years of neglect provided an excellent opportunity for the native species of plants and local animals to reclaim the space, and today it is one of the state’s most comprehensive collections of native plants from the 1800s. Known as the Quarry Garden, you can experience many different natural elements such as a meandering creek, marshland, stone outcroppings, lush ground cover, and even a series of small waterfalls, all under the cover of the impressively tall trees.

Quarry GardenBeautiful natural waterfalls feed into the creekThis long wooden bridge connects the museum to the road on the opposite side of the quarry

Get a better view from the overlook

Wildlife thrives in the quarry, like this Blue-tailed Skink spotted on the bridge over the marshVines overhang the exposed rock face along the creek

Swan Woods TrailThe Swan Woods Trail leads to the Wood Family Cabin Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys, 1917-1918, is an outdoor photography exhibition about World War I spread throughout the 33 acres of the Atlanta History Center Don’t forget to check out the signage throughout the property as it has information about the history of the space, native plants, and wildlife.

Swan House GardensThe Swan House is surrounded by beautifully manicured lawns and gardens

Cherry Sims Garden The charming gazebo offers a lovely spot to rest and take in the sights and sounds of the garden

Rhododendron Garden This garden is situated around a small valley near the McElreath Hall, and colorful rhododendron flowers bloom from late winter to early summer

Gardens for Peace The Garden for Peace at the Atlanta History Center was designated on April 17, 1988 and was the first of an international network of gardens designed to promote peace. The area is centered around an art piece titled “The Peace Tree” by Soviet artist Georgi “Gia” Jazparidze.

Visitors can walk through the winding trails that link together historic settlements and modern amenities, including fine dining at the Swan Coach House Restaurant or casual eats at Souper Jenny, and complete your trip by exploring the multiple smartly-curated exhibition spaces inside the museum. Admission to the museum and surrounding gardens, trails, and buildings is $9 for kids aged 4-12, $18 for students aged 13 and older, $21.50 for adult tickets, and $18 for seniors. Entry to the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown is also included when you purchase a ticket and is valid for 9 days after your visit to the History Center. Visit their website for more information including hours, current exhibitions, and to purchase tickets.


Atlanta History Center

On 33 acres in beautiful Buckhead, we offer the widest variety of event options at one location. Let beauty and serenity set the scene at the glorious Swan House Gardens. Outdoor gathering at this iconic 1928 mansion rise to unforgettable heights on a private lawn with majestic cascading fountains and the elegant boxwood garden and porch. After your ceremony, stroll across the bridge for a reception in the Grand Overlook ballroom.

Enjoy the simple elegance of this unique ballroom featuring Brazilian cherry wood floors, barrel vaulted ceiling and floor to ceiling window overlooking the magnificent illuminated Quarry Garden. Take advantage of our outside terraces, a ceremony option embraces nature in an impressive way. Explore history in our award-winning museum exhibitions. The combination of these venues is as versatile as they are breathtaking.

Our 1860s farmhouse, outbuildings and period gardens give your wedding remarkably rustic overtones with charming allure. Enjoy this peaceful setting among the trees where your guests will experience a truly memorable, fun and historic experience.

Whether a ceremony, vow renewal or rehearsal dinner, McElreath Hall is one of our most versatile venues. A sky-lit atrium creates a welcoming entrance and room enough for a cocktail gathering. The Members Room, our boutique ballroom, features three crystal chandeliers and large windows overlooking the beautiful Asian American wooded garden. The Woodruff Auditorium can easily accommodate an indoor ceremony.

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Grand Overlook at the Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Wedding ceremony area Atlanta History Center Bride and bridesmaids Swan House - Column Side Atlanta History Center Wedding reception Atlanta History Center Swan House - Boxwood Garden Amphitheatre at the Atlanta History Center Smith Family Farm at the Atlanta History Center Couple portrait Smith Family Farm at the Atlanta History Center Couple portrait Couple portrait Bridge at the Atlanta History Center Couple portrait Couple portrait Couple holding hands Couple kissing Couple portrait Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Members Room in McElreath Hall at the Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Grand Overlook at the Atlanta History Center Atlanta History Center Wedding ceremony area

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19 Reviews for Atlanta History Center

Recommended by 94% of couples

Elizabeth W. · Married on 04/16/2021

Best Venue in Atlanta

Getting married at the Swan House was a dream come true! There is not a more iconic, classic venue in Atlanta. The outdoor ceremony space is breathtaking and the indoor reception ballroom is incredible. It is hard to find a venue that is this stunning and can accommodate more than 200 people. We still have people come up to use saying how beautiful our venue was, some didn't even attend the wedding. We worked with Steven and he was great! He was very understanding and accommodating despite 2 COVID reschedules. He's been in the wedding industry and his expertise was really appreciated. I'm thrilled we were able to have the wedding of our dreams here!

Jennifer · Married on 09/22/2018

Beautiful Garden Wedding!

One cannot go wrong with having a wedding on the Swan House gardens of the Atlanta History Center (AHC). I took to heart having our wedding at a place that promotes the historic preservation of Atlanta. We had our ceremony and cocktail hour at the Swan House and the reception at the Grand Overlook Ballroom. My husband and I sought to work with Robin (Director of Sales) as she was highly recommended by our caterer. Robin was incredibly responsive, accommodating and kind to us and our vendors. Since AHC holds the liquor license, alcohol must be provided through them. We opted for a custom premium bar and it was a welcoming surprise that they offer a taste testing of their featured wines. We had our caterer provide mixers for our signature drinks and it is a testament to their top-notch bartenders that our guests loved our signature drinks as well as any drink that was concocted with their many in-house mixers. At first I was hesitant with having our wedding at the Atlanta History Center since it required me to do the heavy lifting of seeking out all of the vendors rather than being a packaged event that many places offer, but it allowed us to carefully select our premier wedding team that we consider are the best in the city, and quite honestly should rank among the best in the country. It was a dream come true having our wedding at the Atlanta History Center and we love that we can always visit the Swan House and reminisce about our wedding day.

Sent on 05/20/2019

Sarah C. · Married on 11/18/2017

Working with Robin and the Atlanta History Center events team was a complete delight from our initial visit to final walk through! Taking photos on the gorgeous grounds is a must and these shots are now some of our most favorite. During cocktail hour in the atrium guests enjoyed visiting the permanent and rotating exhibits while we ate a private dinner before our entrance. The Grand Overlook ballroom was the perfect space for dinner stations and dancing with a live band. You will not regret having your wedding reception at this classic venue!

Atlanta History Center's reply:

Sarah Catherine,
Thank you for the review! We loved hosting your Wedding at the Atlanta History Center! Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous!
Happy Married Life!


Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta History Center is located in one of Atlanta's most vibrant neighborhoods where the stories, mysteries and crusades of our region thrive. Our 33-acre experience features award-winning exhibitions, historic houses, enchanting gardens, interactive activities and a variety of year-round adult and family programs. Inside and outside of our buildings, we reveal the magic, meaning and context that gives rise to a multidimensional, shared understanding of our city. A world of history awaits you!

  • AAA
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  • Free Parking
  • Parking on Site
  • Concessions
  • Gift Shop
  • Meeting Facilities
  • Party Facilities
  • Public Restrooms
  • Restaurant on Site
  • Self-guided Tours
  • Maps & Brochures Available
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  • Civil War Site
  • Film
  • All Ages
  • Group Rates Available
  • Group-Friendly
  • Family-Friendly
  • Open Year 'Round

Official website of the Georgia Department of Economic Development © 2021. GDEcD. All Rights Reserved. All other marks belong to their respective owners.

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Atlanta History Center – Virtual Tour

The Atlanta History Center was founded in 1926, and its campus of 33-acres features historic gardens and houses located on the grounds. The Center also holds one of the largest collections of Civil War artifacts in the United States.

The historic houses featured at the Atlanta History Center campus include:

  • The Smith Farm – an Antebellum architectured estate that includes a farmhouse, enslaved people’s cabin, kitchen, blacksmith shop, smokehouse, double corncrib, barn, and several gardens
  • The Swan House – named for the swam motif located above the home’s rear entrance, this house is one of the most photographed places in Atlanta
  • The Wood Family Cabin – interprets North Georgia settler and Native American life in the 1820s and 1830s

The Center’s Midtown Campus includes:

  • The Margaret Mitchell House- home of Margaret Mitchell from 1925–1932 while she was writing the novel “Gone With The Wind”
  • Commercial Row – an accessible hub for community events

Paved pathways through the Center’s historic gardens connect the Swan House and the Smith Farm which are surrounded with landmark gardens that include:

  • Olguita’s Garden – an ornamental garden that is designed for flowering and fragrant plants and is inspired by the magnificent gardens of Europe
  • Mary Howard Gilbert Memorial Quarry Garden – a native garden containing herbal medicinal plants, waterfalls, and an extensive native plant collection
  • Smith Family Farm Gardens – with a variety of heirloom plants and flowers, with heritage-breed sheep, goats, chickens, and turkeys
  • Swan House Gardens – the formal gardens that surround and showcase the residence
  • Frank A. Smith Memorial Rhododendron Garden’s – a contemporary design with shade-loving plants
  • Sims Asian Garden – home to the Goizueta Gardens Asian Plant Collection
  • Swan Woods and Wood Family Cabin – with acres of forest and associated wildlife
  • Veterans Park – with fountain scenery and seating for personal tributes and reflections

Victorian Playhouse – Atlanta History Center


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