Historic Cobbham National Register District

Sunday, November 13 at 2:00 PM

John Addison Cobb laid out 80 lots on his farmland in 1834 for a speculative development characterized as a “town in the woods.” In the antebellum period, wealthy Athenians built suburban villas on its expansive lots, but, by the time of the Civil War, lots became smaller, prompting many cottage-type homes. Residents of Cobbham—T.R.R. & Howell Cobb, Lucy Stanton and Ben Epps among them—figured greatly in the history of the nation and the South. After World War II, Cobbham underwent a transition as speculators turned large homes into student apartments. Institutional intrusions on both ends of Cobbham caused the demolition of several homes and threatened others. History professor and preservation activist Phinizy Spalding was instrumental in a grassroots effort to protect Cobbham, ultimately achieved through its designation as a local historic district. Today Cobbham enjoys its place as one of the premier historic neighborhoods in Athens, and it contains some of the finest examples of Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Second Empire architecture in the Classic City. This tour will last approximately two hours.


Tour guide:

When Gwen O’Looney and her husband John moved to Cobbham, her mother cried, “You’ve bought the worst house in the worst neighborhood in Athens.” That was 1982. Today a house in Cobbham is a coveted address. After election to Athens City Council, Gwen succeeded in having Cobbham designated as Athens’ first Historic District. As the first mayor elected after unification of the City of Athens and Clarke County, and the first head of a newly-unified government to be reelected in U.S. history, Gwen continued promoting the arts as industry and historic design, e.g., the Classic Center and Lyndon House Arts Center. Today, Gwen is a Trustee of Historic Cobbham Foundation and heads Special Projects that recently expanded Cobbham’s self-guided walking tour available in print and online.