Swan House

Atlanta, Georgia | C.1928

Photo Credit: Jasmin Shi

With its imposing white facade and cascading fountain, The Swan House looks like a movie set. It’s no surprise then, that the grounds have been used in films, including The Hunger Games. But the house, now a museum, has a fascinating real-life history as well.

The house was built for Edward Inman, heir to a large cotton brokerage and a successful businessman in Atlanta. His wife, Emily, was a highly-involved society lady. After the Inman’s house burned in 1924, they commissioned Atlanta architectural firm Hentz, Reid and Adler to design a new house on 28 acres (11.3 ha) in Buckhead, a northern Atlanta community.

The new mansion’s design combined Renaissance revival styles with a Classical approach on the main facade. As the name suggests, a recurring motif of sculpted or painted swans appears throughout the house and grounds.

The Inmans moved into the house in 1928, but Edward died suddenly just three years later. Emily then collected her family into the house and lived there until her death in 1965. 

The Inmans employed many African American household staff members. Among these was Elizabeth “Lizzie” McDuffie, who went on to work as a maid for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s White House. She and her husband, who was FDR’s personal valet, advocated for racial equality, helped form a worker’s union for government employees, and acted as liaisons between the African American community and the President.

Acquired by the Atlanta Historical Society in 1966, the house operates as a museum and  displays many of the Inmans’ original furnishings. In 2004, the Atlanta History Center completed a $5.4 million restoration of the house, which is listed on the  National Register of Historic Places.

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