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.
OAKTON THROUGH THE YEARS
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.
NESTLED IN THE OLD MOUNTAIN RESORT TOWN OF MARIETTA, GEORGIA LIES A TREASURE TROVE OF CLASSIC SOUTHERN HISTORY.
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.
A LIVING MUSEUM
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.
PRESERVING A LEGACY
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.
WANT MORE INFO ON OAKTON? SEE PART 1 OF THIS STORY IN OUR SPRING 2017 ISSUE!
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.