Open Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00am - 4:00pm
Closed on Sundays, Mondays, Saturday UGA Football Home Games, and Holidays
175 Hill Street
Athens, GA 30601
We are located just off of Prince Avenue in downtown Athens at the corner of Hill and Pope Streets, across from Firehouse #2.
We appreciate a $2.00 donation per head for adults
Free to children and students
(706) 369-3513 phone
(706) 354-1054 fax
The T.R.R. Cobb House looks at different ways to present our 19th century Southern History. Whether through changing exhibits, display cases, or period furnishings, the Museum seeks to tell the story of what is was like to live in the mid-19th century in Georgia for T.R.R. Cobb and those around him. In doing so we seek out the most up to date, credible research to support that story and present it as part of our shared history.
The T.R.R. Cobb House is divided into two basic exhibition spaces. The Main Floor is set up as it might have looked during the period of 1852-1862 and is furnished with original pieces from the Cobb and related families, as well as other Athens families. The Upper Floor is of a more contemporary nature, with changing exhibits and display cases housing original weapons, objects, documents, and ephemera on particular topics. From Cobb’s Legion artifacts to copies of speeches by T.R.R. or Howell, these exhibits will attempt to tell another part of the story.
This room served as Marion’s entertaining space, and was the most lavishly decorated room in the house. The portrait over the mantel is a copy of a colorized photograph of the Cobb family. Tom’s arm is around Lucy, his favorite daughter. Daughters Callie and Sallie are on the left and right, respectively. Marion sits between her daughters in mourning clothes, either for Tom’s father John Addison Cobb or for her sister, Lucy Lumpkin. Tom and Marion had three other children, two sons who died in infancy, and a daughter, Marion “Birdie” Cobb, who was born after the family portrait was taken. Many of the furnishings in the room belonged to Tom’s brother Howell, including the Meeks table in the center of the room and the “Isaac and Rebekah at the well” sculpture. The floorboards in this room, and the other octagonal rooms, are original. You may also notice a section of the original plasterwork to the right of the mantel. The triangular closet between the parlor and Marion’s sitting room would have been a place for her to store china and other necessities for entertaining.
The sitting room was Marion’s private room for relaxing or informal entertaining. Often, women used sitting rooms for embroidery, letter writing, reading, music, and such. The clock over the mantel is a Franklin College clock (Franklin College was the original name for the University of Georgia, and the depiction here is that of North Campus). The rosewood piano was Howell Cobb’s, purchased for the Old Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville. The portrait in the room is that of Birdie in her teenage years.
This sitting room was where Tom informally entertained male guests. Over the mantel, you will see a portrait of Lucy Cobb. This portrait is full of Victorian symbolism: the black bow on Lucy’s left shoulder, the black dog, and the closed shutters (minus one window) on the house all point to the fact that this is a mourning portrait completed after Lucy’s death of scarlet fever in 1857 at the age of 13. A black dog was said to lead the departed into the afterlife, and the white marking on its chest was known as the “kiss of God.” The open window allowed the spirit to escape and not get trapped in the house. Lucy is reading The Flower of the Family which must have been important for Tom, as the title is painted on the back of the book. She has a basket of books next to her to show that she hoped to become a teacher. You will also notice that the house in the background has the green shutters and pink hue, as corroborated by the paint chip analysis, proving that the house was originally painted pink. To the right of the portrait is a drawing of Tom Cobb reading a younger Lucy. The other portrait in the room is that of Thomas Reade Rootes, Tom’s grandfather and namesake.
Tom’s brother, Howell, was governor of Georgia from the early 1850s, around the time the octagons were added on to this house. The Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville also features an octagonal office, which may have provided the inspiration for Tom’s octagonal rooms. Tom’s military portrait hangs over the mantel. It was in this library that he wrote the 1860 Georgia Constitution, the first state constitution with a bill of rights attached, known as the “Declaration of Fundamental Principles.” Although local lore states that he wrote the Confederate Constitution in this office, he actually wrote it in Montgomery, AL. He also held the first classes of the UGA School of Law in this office, which he co-founded with his father-in-law, Joseph Henry Lumpkin. The boarded walls were for books—plaster walls were known to collect moisture which could ruin books.
This room is believed to have been a guest room. This room was expanded during Tom Cobb’s ownership, and the addition is noted by the beam on the ceiling. The Confederate battle flag is a “Second Richmond Depot” flag used to drape Tom’s coffin as his body lay in state in the office after his death at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 at the age of 39. He served as Brigadier General for Cobb’s Brigade (and earlier as Colonel of Cobb’s Legion). The flag is on loan from the Atlanta History Center, and has been pressure mounted to further protect it from insect damage. The ball gown in the corner of the room belonged to Mary Ann Lamar Cobb, Howell’s wife. Howell served as President James Buchanan’s Secretary of Treasury from 1857- 1860, and in October 1860, the Prince of Wales paid a visit to the White House, the first visit by British monarchy. As Buchanan was a bachelor, his niece Harriet Lane served as his social secretary. Harriet asked Mary Ann to help throw the grand party in his honor. This dress was brought from England for Mary Ann especially for this event. Mary Ann was 4 months pregnant with her twelfth child when she wore this dress.
The hall is part of the original c.1830s Plantation Plain house that was a wedding present for Tom and Marion. The heart pine floorboards, though not original to the home, were originally part of a mid-1800s cotton mill in North Carolina milled to fit the house. The stairs are in their 1847 location, moved during the dining room addition. In the alcove under the stairs you will see a bed, as this is where Tom’s slave Jesse slept. The Cobb family bedrooms would have been upstairs; however, today you will find staff offices, classrooms for field trips, and temporary exhibits, as well as a bathroom.
The dining room was an 1847 addition during Tom Cobb’s residency. The family held dinner parties in this room. Chairs were set up against the wall, as featured currently, for larger parties, and slaves presented the food and drink around to the guests. The china in the cabinet was a gift from the state legislature to Howell in the 1850s, and was used in the Governor’s Mansion. Please note the “C” on the china. The silver is engraved with “Cobb.” The sugar chest held high end food items, such as sugar and spices. Marion would have held the only key.
This addition includes an extra staircase and an elevator for those who need it. Books in the addition can be purchased with cash or check. There were several outbuildings, including the kitchen and eight slave cabins, behind the original structure.