The Atlanta-Journal Constitution
Monday, February 2, 2015
Section D, Living
Historic Cobb house sits in bulldozer’s path
If a buyer doesn’t come forward, Smyrna will demolish it this month.
By Mark Davis [email protected] Time has run out for the Hooper Turner House, a 19th century structure whose fate had remained
uncertain for years.
Now, say Smyrna officials, the home’s fate is sealed. Unless a buyer steps forward, and quickly, the city
will demolish the house on Oakdale Road before the end of February. If it does, a house that has stood
on the same spot since about 1850 will be no more.
City officials said they’d spent enough money on the house, which Smyrna bought a decade ago as a
stop-gap measure. Smyrna City Council members who approved the purchase 10 years ago hoped
someone would buy the house from the city and save it from demolition. The latest asking price:
But year followed year, and no serious buyers stepped forward. In a last-gasp effort to save the
house, preservationists went to the Cobb Historic Preservation Commission in November and asked the
panel to oppose the home’s demolition. They wore red shirts and spoke passionately about its past and
possible future. The commission voted not to challenge the city’s plans.
Faced with disappointed preservationists, Smyrna officials budged — slightly. Find a buyer by Dec. 25,
they said, and we won’t raze the house.
Ron Fennel, a member of the Smyrna City Council, whose ward includes the house, even sweetened the
offer. “If somebody wants it,” he said in a December interview, “I’d be more than happy to give it to them.”
Of course, he said, whoever took the structure would have to move it because Smyrna wants to sell the
tract on which it’s located. It also would need extensive renovations that would run into thousands, he
Christmas Day came and went without any offers, said Jennifer Bennett, the city’s director of community
On Thursday, she said the city will tear down the house after making sure its demolition won’t create an
asbestos hazard.
The news distressed Joel Cope, president of the Mableton Improvement Coalition. The nonprofit
organization has been at the forefront of efforts to keep the house. “You don’t just flatten your history,” he
The house is a historic reminder of an earlier time. Thomas Cooper, one of the first white settlers of
Cobb County who came to the region in 1830, erected it. By the summer of 1864, the one-story house
was part of the River Line, a defense set up by Confederates to repel Union forces fighting steadily
toward Atlanta. Local legend said it was a field hospital.
It was constantly occupied until Smyrna bought it 10 years ago. Since then, the house has been prey to
time; its flooring, ceiling and walls are unstable.
Cope and others had hoped someone would underwrite the costs of restoring the house — converting it
to a community center, or a venue for weddings, family reunions and other events.
“The house is historic,” Cope said. “It’s the oldest one I’m aware of out here.”
The coalition, he said, holds out hope that someone may decide to invest in an old house. But that
someone needs to step forward, now.
“There have been miracles in the past,” he said. “Maybe this will be another one.”
Smyrna plans to demolish the Hooper Turner House, a 19th century structure in Cobb County. The city
has owned the house for a decade, hoping someone would buy the building and save it.
MARK DAVIS / [email protected] 

Atlanta Journal - River Line Historic Area