What’s not to like about a hotel with a Civil War cannon off the lobby?
The Atlanta/Marietta Hilton Conference Center and Hotel is located on what was once the site of the Georgia Military Institute. GMI was established in July 1851 and chartered by the Georgia state legislature in 1852. At that time, the state gave them four cannons. The one at the Marietta Hilton is one of those.
The school closed in November 1864, when Union General William Tecumseh Sherman burnt it down.
Sherman had taken Atlanta that July in the Battle of Atlanta. He occupied the town for a few months and as he left to make his famous (or infamous, depending which side of the Mason Dixon line you fall) march to the sea on November 15, 1864, he torched Atlanta’s business district. Pyromaniac that he was, that wasn’t enough for Sherman. So when he got to Marietta, a few miles north of Atlanta, he torched GMI too. Its students were away at the time, fighting for the Confederacy, so Sherman burnt down an empty campus. But I guess it was the gesture that counted.
The only building on the GMI campus Sherman didn’t burn was the house of the school’s superintendent. Now called Brumby Hall, after that first and only superintendent of GMI, the Greek revival house was built in 1851. It served as a hospital while Sherman’s troops occupied the GMI campus. Legend has it that Sherman spared the house when he burned the rest of campus because he and Anoldus Brumby had been friends at West Point. It’s now used as a special events facility by the Hilton.
Our stay at the Marietta Hilton marked the beginning of a southern road trip that ended just a couple of nights ago. I have earlier trips that I haven’t written about yet, but I want to do this one while it’s fairly fresh in my mind.
The southern road trip started with Mr.History Tourist wanting to check out Clemson, South Carolina as a possible retirement spot. I signed on because, although I wasn’t that keen on Clemson, the Confederate flag debate was heating up and I saw some blog potential in seeing how it was going, firsthand, in the south.
Then we said, “Clemson is only two hours away from Marietta. Let’s visit Susan and Shelton.” They’re friends who live in Marietta, Georgia.
Then Mr. HT said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Vicksburg.” Mississippi. (Really. He said it. He was the one who wanted to go to the Vicksburg battlefield. Not me. Really.)
Then I said, “Vicksburg’s only a few hours from New Orleans.” Louisiana. I love New Orleans.
Then Mr. HT said, “I’d like to see Montgomery. And Selma.” Alabama. That took me by surprise because he’d never expressed an interested in Civil Rights history and had had no interest in seeing the movie “Selma.”
Then I said, “Well if we’re in that area, I want to visit Andersonville,” the Confederate prison camp in southern Georgia. Plus Andersonville is next to Plains, home of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site.
And that’s how we ended up driving over 2000 miles in two weeks through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina on an epic History-Tourist-tour-on-steroids.