Last Updated on March 16, 2023
If you are driving on West Peachtree Street in Atlanta, you might be surprised to find a small castle that seems almost out of place amongst the modern cityscape. Inspired by the dreamy fairytale castles in the German Rhineland, Rhodes Hall, commonly known as the “Castle on Peachtree Street,” has stood at 1516 Peachtree Street for over a century. And while things have changed on the outside these past 100 years, much of the interior of Rhodes Hall remains the same.
Having been by what I like to call this “miniature castle” several times before, I was excited to find out that the Georgia Trust was offering ghost tours in October, which would finally give me a chance to see and take pictures of the interior.
We didn’t catch any ghosts, but I got some images on 35mm film that captures our experience at Rhodes Hall. I’ve always been intrigued by historic sites, and I love photographing spots that hold many memories and stories. Rhodes Hall is not short on these, and I wanted my pictures to capture the beauty of this house museum.
History of Rhodes Hall
Sitting outside near the Rhodes Hall entrance, I had difficulty picturing this splendid non-traditional castle sitting on over 100 acres of land. Built in 1904, Rhodes Hall was the dream home for wealthy businessman Amos Rhodes, founder of Rhodes Furniture, which, decades later, would be bought out by Rooms To Go. “The dream” or “La Rêve,” as Amos and his wife, Amanda, would come to call it, cost $50,000 to build or around $1.6 million today.
To construct the Victorian Romanesque Revival mansion, Amos and Amanda turned to nearby Stone Mountain for its granite and architect Willis Franklin Denny II. Denny was already a well-known architect in Atlanta for building residential and church properties.
While Rhodes Hall is less grand than the castles in Germany, it became a unique property in Atlanta due to its medieval-style look with turrets, thick walls, and arches. Denny combined these traditional castle characteristics with a turn-of-the-century house considered modern for the early 1900s.
Amos and Amanda enjoyed their La Rêve until they passed away in the late 1920s, leaving Rhodes Hall to their children, who subsequently transferred the mansion’s property rights and less than one acre of land to the State of Georgia. But in doing so, the State of Georgia agreed that they would never sell Rhodes Hall and that it must be used for historical purposes.
Holding up their agreement, Rhodes Hall became the State Archives until the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation signed a lease for occupation in the 1980s. Today, this museum is the headquarters for the Georgia Trust and serves as a venue for weddings, rehearsal dinners, corporate events, and other special occasions. The Georgia Trust has helped preserve and restore Rhodes Hall so many can enjoy the little castle on Peachtree Street.
A Look Inside Rhodes Hall
Reception Hall, Library, and Den
Much of the Victorian-designed interior of Rhodes Hall has stayed the way the Rhodes family left it in the 1920s, especially the first floor. As you pass the entrance door to the Reception Hall, an ornate room heavily designed in mahogany wood with a coffered ceiling welcomes you.
The Reception Hall is intended to impress any visitor that walks through the front doors, and it does not fail to do so. Your eyes might be immediately drawn to the Grand Staircase that curves up to the second floor, with light coming through the stained glass windows illuminating the steps if you visit during the day.
Look up toward the coffered ceiling, and you’ll notice murals that are thought to depict the coastal properties that Amos Rhodes owned in Florida. There are also light sconces where only two lightbulbs are lit, with a third bulb appearing not to work. It’s not out, however, as Rhodes Hall was also equipped with gas lighting when they were not using power.
Before you reach the Grand Staircase, you’ll see to your left another door that leaves to the den where Amos used to relax and listen to sports on his radio. Directly across this room and the Reception Hall is the library. I wonder why they called it the library, as it didn’t really hold books. Instead, it was more so their music and sitting room; sadly, it became where Amanda passed away.
Parlour and Dining Room
The Parlour near the Reception Hall looks pretty in pink with its silk damask walls and fancy chandelier and almost seems out of place compared to the rest of the house. A piano, writing table, and display case are the furnishings in this more spacious room. The French-inspired room was used for formal occasions and is my favorite in the house.
Adjacent to the Parlour is the Dining Room decorated with still-life paintings. The whole room is constructed with wood, including the floors, walls, and oak dining chairs. This room has many original furnishings, including the well-preserved rug beneath your feet, and I can only imagine the conversations amongst the Rhodes family over mealtime.
The upper floors of Rhodes Hall contained the Rhodes’ bedrooms and are less glamorous than the first floor. Visitors were not likely to go upstairs, so the need to impress beyond the first floor was less. We didn’t get to see the fourth floor, or what is called the tower, but it was the grandchildren’s playroom.
Today, the upper floors are used for office space for the Georgia Trust, so you can only go into some of the rooms, but they utilize the tower for weddings and event space.
How You Can Visit Rhodes Hall
Sadly, historical tours are canceled at this moment, but you can make an appointment for event rentals, such as weddings or corporate events. However, I recommend frequently visiting their website and social media for updates on tours, such as the ghost tour they held around Halloween.
When you visit, there is limited free parking at 1495 Spring Street, and the small lot seems sketchy since it is located behind Rhodes Hall and near a bridge. We didn’t have any issues with our car there, but I still wouldn’t leave any valuables behind or in plain sight.
A Note on My Film
Given the smaller rooms and the number of people on tour, taking photos was more challenging. Regrettably, I took fewer pictures than I wanted, especially in the dining room and Amos’ den.
Another challenging aspect was the low lighting conditions since the ghost tour was obviously in the evening. I needed a high-speed film, so I loaded up my Canon EOS-1N with Atlanta Film Co.’s 500T pushed by one stop to give me the shutter speed I needed for low light during the tour and afterward.
I also used Atlanta Film Co.’s 200T at dusk to take some exterior images of Rhodes Hall. The castle’s outdoor lighting gives the photos a warm, welcoming glow.
Have you visited Rhodes Hall in Atlanta before? Please comment and share your experience below!