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This history is extracted from KyL Cobb’s book
Written by Kyle T. Cobb, Jr.
Nos tibi credere.
Amos Giles Rhodes was born in Henderson, Kentucky on 29 December 1850 as the son of Joseph and Louisa Rhodes.
Having grown up as the son of a wagon wheel maker, Rhodes was used to hard work. While Rhodes adored his mother, he later described his father as not being "worth a hoot."
During the War of Northern Aggression, the Rhodes family found the Union Army camped near their home. Because the economy in the area was in shambles, Louisa Rhodes would bake cakes and pie throughout the night. Amos would then sell the deserts to the Yankees the next day. According to legend, Amos befriended a union soldier and the soldier would buy a pie each day for a nickel.
One day the soldier asked the young boy if he knew "the truth about a nickel." Amos replied that he did not.
The soldier told Amos, "Well, if you always remember what I tell you, you will be a rich man some day. A nickel is worth more than anything it will buy."
In 1875, Rhodes moved to Atlanta to become a laborer for the Louisville and Nashville (L & N) Railroad with $75 in cash, a gold watch, a horse, and a buggy.
Unhappy with life working on the railroad, within weeks of arriving in Atlanta, Rhodes began to apply the skills he learned from his father to open a small wooden picture frame business. He would spend each night cutting and assembling the frames and the sell the frames door-to-door the next day. Because the Atlanta economy was still struggling from the post war hardships, Rhodes realized that many people could not afford to buy his picture frames outright. Instead of issuing customers credit directly, Rhodes instituted weekly payment plans. This was a first in business and set the stages for installment plans around the world. Rhodes combined his selling rounds with collections rounds each day.
By the fall of 1875, Rhodes expanded his business into the making and sales of home furnishings and opened a small Atlanta store. The furniture store became extremely successful and the A.G. Rhodes and Son business soon made Rhodes wealthy.
In 1889, Rhodes entered into a partnership with James Joseph Haverty. The new partnership proved profitable. By 1891, Rhodes-Haverty relocated their headquarters to St. Louis, Missouri. Life in the mid-west proved uncomfortable to Rhodes and to Haverty, so in 1893, the duo returned to Atlanta with their headquarters.
Taking a third partner between 1894 and 1897, the business briefly became Rhodes-Snook-Haverty. By 1908, Rhodes and Haverty decided that their partnership restricted both of their ambitions. The seventeen stores were divided up between Rhodes and Haverty.
Beginning in 1901, Rhodes began purchasing adjoined acreage on Peachtree street north of Atlanta. By 1906, he had assembled 114 acres at Brookwood, stretching from Tanyard Creek northward. At the time, Rhodes still lived in his 1890s house on South Pryor Street.
In 1902, construction began on Rhodes's castle, "La Reve." Well-known Atlanta architect Willis F. Denney II designed the home. After two years, in 1904, the Romanesque Revival home was completed and the Rhodes family began living there. Rhodes had married Amanda Welton Dougherty in 1876. The couple had two children Laura O. (Bricker) and Joseph D.
The Rhodes lived to see their great-grandchildren play in the house. Amanda Rhodes died on 21 August 1927 in the home after an extended illness (labeled "senility" on the death certificate). Amos died on 16 July 1928.
Beyond simply running his business, Rhodes had opened a Home for Incurables and the Home for Old Women.
After Amos's Rhodes's death, his children deeded "La Reve" to the state provided that it be used for "historic purposes." As a result, the castle served as the Georgia State Archives from 1930 until 1965. Even after the new archives building was created, Rhodes Hall ,as the building was now called, continued to be operated as a branch of the archives.
In 1983, the Hall was transferred to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Under the Trust, an extensive renovation of the building was conducted. Several architectural elements that had been previously removed with the new archives were returned to the building.
In 1992, the International Fine Arts Conservation Studios began working to restore the home to its original splendor.
In addition to providing offices for the Georgia Trust, Rhodes Hall is currently rented out as an event space.
The area surrounding the one acre of the donated house was developed in 1937 to become Atlanta's first Shopping Center, Rhodes Center.
In 2004, Rhodes Furniture filed for bankruptcy and most of its stores were closed. Rooms To Go purchased the assets from the business and reopened many stores as Broyhill Furniture.
Most of the legends of Rhodes Hall being haunted are manufactured remnants of when the building was "The Haunted Castle." Every Halloween from 1984 until 1992, the facility was transformed into a fundraising haunted house.
Paranormal event claims included EVPs, unexplained noises (many possibly link to the caretaker than lived in the basement at one point), shadow forms, disembodied voices, phantom footsteps, opening doors, sensations of being touched, and reports of apparitions.
Just to demonstrate its credibility, the paranormal reality show Ghost Hunters investigated Rhodes Hall with three other actors from the "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" in 2010.
You can annually attend an event at Rhodes Hall and have professional paranormal investigators usher you through the experience with my friends from Ghost Hunt Weekends. Click their logo below to go to the Ghost Hunt Weekends website.
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