Through family tales and documents, the direct descendants of Col. James Caldwell Sproull have safeguarded the historical significance of Valley View and its furnishings for about 170 years. Constructed in the late 1840s, the Greek Revival residence still remains in Sproull's family, presently under the care of the family's fifth generation: Dr. Bob Fouche Norton and his sisters Jane Norton Finger and Florence Norton Reisgies.
"It has been a passion of this family to preserve [Valley View]," said Mary Norton, who along with her husband Bob, has been actively documenting the home's photographs and writings. " We just had Memorial Day. Memorial Day is when we have work weekend out here. Family members come from all over the United States. They come from California. They come from Texas.
"We spend three intensive days working on this house. I think grandchildren, the sixth generation, still very much remember Bob's father, their grandfather, and what Valley View meant to him. ... It's almost in their genes in terms of feeling a sense of stewardship. You never own Valley View. What you do is you try to be a good steward when it's your time, your generation. One of the things that the family did in 2009 is they made a decision to put the land around Valley View, 70 acres or so, in a conservation easement. I think that again shows a commitment to preservation and protecting the viewscape."
During the Memorial Day work weekend, family and friends were busy preparing the estate for a public viewing on Saturday. For $10 per person, area residents from noon to 5 p.m.can tour the interior of the residence, its original kitchen, the smokehouse, courtyard and boxwood gardens.
"What's interesting to me about the house is there are some rooms that have been preserved as though they were during the Civil War," said Norton, who presently resides with her husband across the street from Valley View.
"They've still got the original writing of the soldiers in the closet. They've got the original bed that was made by Mr. Witey. He was the German cabinet maker that came with the family from Abbeville, S.C. So when you're in different parts of the house you're almost like in different eras. The upstairs bedrooms are very much the way they would have been. ... I found a book of Edith [Fouche's] where she sat down and said let me tell you what's in the house. So she says, 'Sproull Fouche bought me this hurricane lamp piece or lantern in New Orleans,' so you can go through the house and you begin to see the furniture through her eyes.
"Then ... the daughter of the builder of Valley View wrote a book about the family, about this area after the Civil War. She talks about what happened during the Civil War and how the soldiers stabled their horses in the formal parlor. You can then see [in the parlor] what used to be a rosewood piano was made into a horse trough. So you have the written documentation then you actually see it. Then you have some of the stories. There's the chandelier in the dining room that supposedly was given to Edith Fouche by Queen Marie. So as you go through the rooms you have a chance to relive history and it's the same thing with the boxwood garden."
Presented by the Etowah Valley Historical Society, the event also will provide other historical associations and venues an opportunity to showcase their projects. Proceeds from the tour will go toward EVHS' preservation efforts, in particular its Oral History Project.
"We've [interviewed] about 30 individuals throughout the county, realizing once people die that their stories are lost unless you put them on tape. CDs [are] the main thing that we've done," said Genie Certain, an EVHS member, who co-chairs the Oral History Project along with Bartow History Museum Director Trey Gaines. "So we've filmed them and done the audio because people's stories get lost if you don't do something like this.
"So we've done 30 and they're everything from lawyers and businessmen to ordinary individuals who have lived in the county a lot of their lives. The CDs are stored at the Bartow History Museum, the Cartersville [Public] Library and the Etowah Valley Historical Society office in the gold-domed courthouse and can be viewed at these locations, not checked out. We have a lengthening list of people that we want to do and hope with more funds we can do that."
For more information about the Valley View tour, contact Certain at 770-383-3533. The residence is at 100 Valley View Farm Road in Cartersville. For those traveling from downtown Cartersville, take West Avenue/Highway 61 South, turn right onto Euharlee Road, travel 2.1 miles, then turn left at Valley View Farm Road.