Marietta History: Stories of Real Life and Fiction

Marietta History: Stories of Real Life and Fiction

Whether you’re a hometown tourist or a visitor, there is plenty to discover in Marietta as you kick off the summer. Marietta holds a wealth of fascinating stories from real-life to fictional characters. While exploring the sites and history, I uncovered a captivating mix of people and tales, both true and larger-than-life.

Real-life Stories

The William Root House at the corner of Polk Street and Marietta Parkway, was built circa 1845 for Hannah and William Root, who were early Marietta settlers. William Root was one of the earliest merchants and the first druggist in Marietta. The Root House is one of the oldest and best-preserved houses remaining in the Atlanta area. Within the 180-year-old walls, award-winning interactive exhibits examine the lives of the Root family and their enslaved house servants. Touchscreens, activity books, scavenger hunts, and interactive areas make a visit to the William Root House engaging and enriching for all ages. Designated as 2023’s Museum of the Year by the Georgia Association of Museums, The Root House also provides local walking tour information and is recognized as a Georgia Grown Agritourism Site.

Intersecting True Life Stories with Fiction

Brumby Hall & Gardens currently houses Marietta’s Gone With the Wind Museum at 472 Powder Springs Street. The Greek revival-style house was built in 1851 by prominent Marietta Brumby family member and Georgia Military Institutes’ (GMI) first superintendent, Colonel Arnoldus V. Brumby. Brumby Hall served as Colonel Brumby’s quarters, next door to the GMI, until General William Sherman and his men made their way through Marietta with their “march to the sea” and the burning of Atlanta. The GMI and cadet housing were the first to meet Sherman’s torch, as they marched toward historic Marietta Square. Brumby Hall was to be burned as well until Sherman realized he knew its owner, Colonel Brumby. The two men had been friends at West Point years prior, and honoring the cadet code, Sherman spared the house.

The true-life story of the Brumby family over many generations in Marietta has been tied to local politics, newspaper publishing, (Otis Brumby, III is the current publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal) and famous rocking chair brand, The Brumby Chair Company.

Brumby Hall & Gardens is beautifully maintained and is a local favorite for weddings and garden parties. Be sure to check out the special event: Costumes and the Collection: A Gone With the Wind Garden Party on June 8, 2024. 

Notorious Characters

In addition to a connection with larger-than-life character Scarlett O’Hara, Marietta also has ties to Virginia Hill, the real-life girlfriend of mobster Bugsy Siegel, who was a gang leader in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. Check out this entertaining piece “Mob Queen Virginia Hill,” written for the Marietta Daily Journal by local favorite, Katy Ruth Camp.

In addition to its rich architectural history and the charm of Glover Park, Marietta Square has served as a popular filming location for numerous movies and TV shows, hosting a variety of memorable characters.

Other-worldly Characters

With its history and notoriety, it’s no surprise that Marietta also boasts supernatural characters as well. Local tour company Marietta Tours offers guided Ghost Tours & Food Tours that are sure to entertain. Check out their scheduled excursions or contact them to customize your outing.

Resources for Additional Marietta Stories

The Marietta History Center is located in the historic Kennesaw House, one of Marietta’s oldest buildings. Originally built as a cotton warehouse by John Glover in 1845, the warehouse was purchased and remodeled by Dix Fletcher in 1855, transforming it into the Fletcher House Hotel. In April 1862, Andrews’ Raiders stayed in a second-floor room the night before stealing the steam engine, The General. During the early years of the Civil War, the hotel served as a Confederate hospital and later as a Union hospital. A house this old comes with a lot of stories, and the Kennesaw House is no exception, bearing witness to significant moments in American history.

As the war was nearing its climax in July 1864, the Union Army took over the building, and when General Sherman came through town on his “March to the Sea”, he did not burn the Fletcher House. Sherman spared the hotel because Dix Fletcher was a Mason and because his son-in-law, Henry Cole, was a Yankee spy. However, the fourth floor did catch fire as embers from other burning buildings blew onto the roof, and this floor was not rebuilt.

Today the building houses the Marietta History Center, featuring historic and modern-day gallery exhibits.

The Marietta Welcome Center is an excellent source for additional information for visitors and locals alike.The Marietta Welcome Center is housed in the historic Marietta Train Depot between the Railroad tracks and the Marietta Square and is staffed by very friendly locals. Ask questions, pick up brochures, and purchase keepsakes to commemorate your visit. 

For more real-life stories about the city, check out Marietta History: A Brief Overview. Written by the History Center, it is a recap of the establishment of Marietta on Cherokee land and its journey through the Civil War.

As we look back in time and learn about these characters, places, and stories, I can’t help but wonder which tales about our current friends, neighbors, and leaders will be written and shared with generations to come!

Kim Ellet is a free-lance writer, Marietta resident and enthusiast, and member of the Visit Marietta Board of Directors.