Old-fash­ioned Charm

Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Rebekah Wahlberg

Dis­cover a Ge­or­gian home, rich with clas­sic South­ern his­tory.

Be­stowed with a rich his­tory and pas­sion­ate care­tak­ers, oak­ton is a clas­sic of south­ern es­tates.

As the long­est con­tin­u­ously oc­cu­pied house in Ma­ri­etta, Ge­or­gia, Oak­ton is one of the few homes in the At­lanta area that has en­dured the test of time. Its cur­rent own­ers, Will and Michelle Goodman, have cared for the es­tate for more than a decade, while it has been in Will’s fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions.


The orig­i­nal six-room Greek re­vival home was built in 1838 by Judge David Ir­win, a North­west Blue Ridge cir­cuit judge, who spent much of his time trav­el­ing the sur­round­ing new coun­ties. The home passed hands briefly to Charles Allen of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1850. Allen owned the prop­erty for a year and a half be­fore sell­ing the 100-acre es­tate to John Ran­dolph Wilder in 1852. The Wilders were a well-to-do Sa­van­nah fam­ily who bought Oak­ton as their moun­tain va­ca­tion home, Ma­ri­etta be­ing a pop­u­lar re­sort spot in the 19th cen­tury. The Wilder fam­ily trav­elled by train to Ma­ri­etta, stop­ping off in towns where he had busi­ness in­ter­ests.


Af­ter the war ended, Wilder’s wife Anna made Oak­ton her per­ma­nent home. She hired William An­nan­dale, a Scot­tish gar­dener, in 1868 to care for Oak­ton’s grounds. Wilder con­structed a home for the An­nan­dale fam­ily across the road from Oak­ton, and the fam­ily cared for the Wilders and Oak­ton for many years—four gen­er­a­tions of An­nan­dales looked af­ter three gen­er­a­tions of Wilders.

The Wilders ren­o­vated and ex­panded Oak­ton af­ter they moved to the es­tate per­ma­nently. They trans­formed the home from a shot­gun-style Greek Re­vival to a much larger Ital­ianate style. They added two wings and ex­panded the sec­ond floor to three bed­rooms. Since the Wilders, the only ma­jor work on the home has been the ad­di­tion of in­door plumb­ing in the 1930s and the grad­ual merg­ing of the main house with the re­moved kitchen.

While all of Oak­ton brims with his­tory, per­haps the most distin­guished room of the house is its li­brary.

Dec­o­rat­ing a his­toric home to honor its her­itage with­out sac­ri­fic­ing mod­ern comfort can be a chal­lenge.

The Wilders’ im­prove­ments on Oak­ton didn’t stop at the home it­self. When they brought William An­nan­dale from Great Bri­tain, he as­sumed the ti­tle of farm man­ager and ded­i­cated his life to car­ing for the acreage sur­round­ing the home. His gar­den plans are what cur­rent home­owner Will Goodman used when bring­ing Oak­ton’s gar­dens back to life for mod­ern liv­ing.

Oak­ton re­mained a Wilder fam­ily es­tate un­til John Ran­dolph An­der­son, who was mar­ried to Anne Page Wilder, sold Oak­ton to Will Goodman’s grand­par­ents in 1938. Af­ter World War II, Will’s grand­fa­ther built up the sub­di­vi­sion around Oak­ton, lay­ing out plans for roads in Ma­ri­etta’s post-war pop­u­la­tion boom.

Will’s par­ents took over the care of Oak­ton in 1977, and Will and Michelle have lived there since 2002.


While all of Oak­ton brims with his­tory, per­haps the most distin­guished room of the house is its li­brary. On the desk sits a bust of Ma­jor Gen­eral William Lor­ing, the Con­fed­er­ate army leader who oc­cu­pied Oak­ton dur­ing the Civil War’s Bat­tle of Ken­ne­saw Moun­tain in the sum­mer of 1864. Will Goodman com­mis­sioned a lo­cal Ma­ri­etta artist for the sculp­ture. Mean­while, the walls are dec­o­rated with vin­tage English images, in­clud­ing one of Mary, Queen of Scots—ar­ti­facts from be­fore the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of Good­mans lived in the home.

The li­brary con­tains more than just relics from name­less his­tory, though: it also houses pieces of the Goodman fam­ily’s per­sonal his­tory. A pre­served edi­tion of the Ma­ri­etta Daily Journal from 1870 hangs in the li­brary, spe­cially framed so both sides can be viewed.

Will Goodman’s great-great grand­fa­ther founded the Ma­ri­etta Daily Journal, a daily news­pa­per cov­er­ing all Cobb County, in 1866. Me­men­tos of the Goodman pa­tri­arch adorn other parts of the house, as well; the house con­tains sev­eral por­traits of him in var­i­ous stages of life.

An­other of Oak­ton’s pa­tri­archs is memo­ri­al­ized within its walls: John Ran­dolph Wilder. His fam­ily’s renovations played a part in mak­ing Oak­ton what it is to­day, and some of his fur­ni­ture is still in the house, in­clud­ing an old side­board (now used to dis­play Michelle Goodman’s China col­lec­tion), and the very bed John Wilder died in.

It was 1879, and Oak­ton was still un­der­go­ing its Ital­ianate makeover and ex­pan­sion un­der the guid­ance of Wilder and his wife Anna. One day, Wilder was meet­ing with his farm man­ager, William An­nan­dale, and his busi­ness part­ner, Mr. Glover, to dis­cuss the tan­nery they owned to­gether across the street from Oak­ton. They met in the morn­ing, went their sep­a­rate ways for lunch, and were to meet in the af­ter­noon again. But when Wilder didn’t re­turn from his lunch break, An­nan­dale and Glover be­came con­cerned. They went to Oak­ton to see what had hap­pened, and dis­cov­ered Wilder had suf­fered a heart at­tack and died while tak­ing

The home was trans­formed from a shot­gun­style Greek Re­vival to a much larger Ital­ianat­estyle home.

an af­ter­noon nap. A mo­rose tale, per­haps, but Oak­ton’s charm lies in its rich his­tory: all the sto­ries the home has seen over more than 175 years of fam­i­lies growing and work­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing life to­gether.


Dec­o­rat­ing a his­toric home to honor its her­itage with­out sac­ri­fic­ing mod­ern comfort can be a chal­lenge. Dec­o­rat­ing a home that’s been in the same fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions—with said gen­er­a­tions look­ing over your shoul­der—can be an even big­ger chal­lenge.

When Will and Michelle bought Oak­ton from Will’s fa­ther, they took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, to gar­ner in­spi­ra­tion from sim­i­larly-styled his­toric homes. They came back burst­ing with ideas for the in­te­rior, which they ap­plied to Oak­ton. The changes weren’t too crazy, just a touch of paint here and there, new cur­tains and a few knick-knacks to make Oak­ton feel like theirs.

The ma­jor­ity of the work Will and Michelle did over the years was to Oak­ton’s ex­te­rior. The gar­dens be­came Will’s pas­sion project, his life’s work. He spent years mak­ing Oak­ton’s gar­dens vi­brant again, restor­ing them to their lush, gen­teel glory.

top. Oak­ton’s li­brary is a ver­i­ta­ble mu­seum of ar­ti­facts from the many char­ac­ters in Oak­ton’s his­tory. On the desk sits a bust of Gen­eral William Lor­ing, a Con­fed­er­ate mil­i­tary of­fi­cer who oc­cu­pied the prop­erty dur­ing the Civil War. op­po­site. When the ho


above, right. This 1933 il­lus­tra­tion maps Oak­ton’s front and kitchen gar­dens (the house be­tween the two gar­den ar­eas was left out of the draw­ing). It was used as the ba­sis for a mu­ral on the stair land­ing.

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