Neighborhood of the Month – February 2017


Cobbham Historic District

The parameters of the Cobbham Historic District are roughly Prince Avenue to the North, Pope Street to the East, Hill Street to the South and King Avenue to the West. It is often considered Athens’ first suburb since it sprung out of the 633 acres that John Milledge donated to the state of Georgia for the University of Georgia. In 1833 the trustees for the University of Georgia surveyed and created lots for residential purposes and in 1834 John A. Cobb advertised 80 of them for sale. Cobbham is named for the Cobb family. The Cobbham neighborhood saw growth from the 1830s to the 1930s and during that time was a lively and well-populated area for wealthier residents of Athens. The neighborhood boasts a variety of different house types and styles for a wide range of years. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. There is debate among Athenians about the pronunciation of the neighborhood; is it Cobbum, more like the English pronunciation or is it Cobb Ham like a corn cob and a chunk of ham smashed together? Most residents would say Cobbham like Birmingham.

 

T.R.R. Cobb House, 175 Hill Street

The T.R.R Cobb house was the home of Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb and his family. T.R.R. Cobb was a prominent Athenian who authored the slave code of the Confederate constitution and founded both the University of Georgia Law School and the Lucy Cobb Institute for girls which he named after his daughter Lucy.

The house was built in 1834 as a four rooms over four rooms Plantation Plain or I-House. It was given to T.R.R Cobb and his wife Marion by her father Joseph Henry Lumpkin as a wedding gift in 1844. The house went through several additions under the Cobbs until it achieved its final look in the Greek Revival style around 1852 with the addition of the double octagonal rooms on the front and the large columns across the porch. The house is a light pink color called “Rosa” that was a very masculine color when it was applied to the exterior under the Cobbs. When the new coat of pink paint was added to the exterior once it was back in Athens, Athenians debated if that was really how it looked in the 1800s, even though a paint analysis expert had confirmed the historical accuracy of the unusual color. Most Greek Revival houses in Georgia were painted white. After the paint job a painting of Lucy Cobb made shortly after her death was found with the T.R.R.Cobb house in the background painted that strange pink color.

The house was originally located on Prince Avenue until it was moved to Stone Mountain Park by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association in 1984 where it sat for 20 years unused. In 2004 the house was bought by the Watson-Brown Foundation with the help of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation and brought back to Athens for restoration and use as a museum. The first floor is available for visits at the Museum. It was listed on the National Register in 1975.

 

Cobb-Buckner-Leathers House, 425 Hill Street

One of the homes built for Thomas Howell Cobb, the older brother of T.R.R. Cobb. Thomas Howell was a Congressman and Speaker of the House in 1849 and he was governor of Georgia from 1851 to 1853. In 1861 he served as the President of the Montgomery Convention that created the Confederate States of America. Thomas Howell’s wife Mary Ann Lamar Cobb lived in the house with the children while her husband served as Governor of Georgia in Milledgeville. Thomas Howell was arrested on the front porch by Union Troops in 1864.

It was built in 1849 as a Federal house with Greek Revival details to match the style of the time. The front porch boasts a two story Doric portico with delicate ironwork railings. It is identical to the Steven Thomas house which was built one year before it. Used to take up more of the parcel of land but it was moved to the corner of the lot where it sits today.

 

Jester-Griffith-Buck House, 748 Cobb Street

This unusual Second Empire style house was built by William A. Jester in 1890 and boasts a central tower, mansard roof and elaborate Moorish brackets. It was restored by Barrie and Peter Buck of R.E.M. and is now owned by the Historic Cobbham Foundation after they purchased it to save it from destruction.

 

 

 

Sledge-Cobb-Spalding House, 749 Cobb Street

Three sharp gables accented by a cast iron porch distinguish this antebellum house in the Cobbham Historic District. It was built just before the Civil War by James A. Sledge, editor of the Athens Banner. This house was also home to Mrs. Lamar Cobb, founder of America’s first chartered garden club, the Ladies’ Garden Club of Athens. Later on, homeowners included Margie and Phinizy Spalding, founders of the Historic Cobbham Foundation. The Spaldings were major leaders in restoration of the Cobbham neighborhood. The old slave cabin on the property was moved to there from Milledge Avenue in 1999 for a studio.

 

 

 

Photo Gallery, courtesy of Kristin Karch