“It is [wonderful to see] because I am so passionate about this place and to see something ... be closed for about five years, it has been very exasperating, I guess you would say, because it’s such a landmark,” Rose Lawn Museum Director Jane Drew said. “... Just to see it being stagnant and no activity, truthfully it’s just been a very hard experience and also to watch business diminish here. We were using it so very much. People love the Carriage House as much as they do the [Rose Lawn Museum] so that pretty much just cut out half of the business activity. So that was hard too.
“We decided to do [the ribbon cutting] before we opened the doors. We wanted to get the word out there that once again it was active. ... Actually, I’ve rented it 13 times already. So it has generated business and it does have a lot to do with economic impact because ... we serve a lot of people outside of Bartow. So they bring their money here and spend their money here. So it really does affect our digest to have this place open again.”
Owned and operated by Bartow County government as a special events rental venue, the Carriage House is located on Rose Lawn Museum’s three-acre property.
Now a house museum, the Rev. Samuel Porter Jones’ former residence at 224 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville features the belongings of the late Methodist evangelist’s family and teacher, Rebecca Felton. While his ministry started small — preaching at various churches and open-air tabernacles surrounding Cartersville — Jones gained notoriety during the late 1800s. He drew thousands to revivals at the Union Gospel Tabernacle, now known as Ryman Auditorium — a venue in Nashville, Tenn., that was built in his honor.
Constructed about 1895, the Carriage House still features concrete floors, stables and gear for lowering hay from its top level. The brick structure’s interior damage initially was investigated once Drew noticed a leak and splintered beam after Christmas 2009.
“It had a lot of damage,” Drew said. “A lot of the support timbers had been damaged by termites. The outer shell of the beams looked fine, but when we began investigating it was almost like paper thin inside. Five years ago I came in from a Christmas break and was getting ready to break [the decorations] down from Christmas and noticed water coming from the cupola that was on top of the Carriage House.
“It’s got a very sophisticated cupola and that’s for venting. I saw a circle of water in the middle of the Carriage House. I just happened to look up and I noticed that one of the beams had splintered. ... It was only a matter of days that Bartow County Maintenance investigated the entire [structure]. We had an architectural engineer. So it was [decided] we were just going to have to close it. It was not safe.”
After the structure was reinforced so that it would not collapse, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds were secured to complete the $104,650project, which started in fall 2013.
“When we first started the upper beams and the rafters had deteriorated just beyond the point of being able to support weight,” said Bartow County Facilities Director Harvey Evans, adding the restoration work was conducted by Ace Construction. “The cupola had actually started leaning probably about a 30 degree list to the left side and it was getting pretty bad. We’d done some bracing, had it braced up trying to help out but we were to the point where we really had to do something. We just basically went in and straightened it up, replaced all the big, raw beams ... and we actually used aged beams, where it would match what was in there.
“Anything we’d run across basically where there was any deterioration we replaced that without trying to take away from the integrity of the building and keep it as close as we could to the historical value of the building. But part of it, we had to put new stuff in. There was just no way around it, it was gone. We had to keep the building where it would stay safe for people to use.”
For more information about the Rose Lawn Museum and Carriage House, visit www.roselawnmuseum.com or call 770-387-5162.