Atlanta History Center Tour

Atlanta History Center Tour

The 14 founders of the Atlanta History Center could not have envisioned what impact they would have on the future when in 1926 they formed what was then known as the Atlanta Historical Society.

Beginning as a group of civic-minded Atlantans - led by prominent attorney Walter McElreath and meeting in each other's homes, collecting early manuscripts and photos, and publishing research bulletins to "arouse in the citizens and friends of Atlanta an interest in history" - it has turned into a primary source of Atlanta, regional, and national history.

In 1990, the Historical Society and all its holdings became known as the Atlanta History Center. Today, the History Center is located on 33 acres in the heart of Atlanta's Buckhead district and includes: one of the Southeast's largest history museums; a research library and archives that annually serves more than 10,000 patrons; two historic houses illustrating over a century of Atlanta's history; a two-acre midtown campus which houses the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum; and a series of gardens unique in both design and horticultural presentation in the metropolitan area.

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Tour/Activity Details



Museum Hours:

10:00 AM - 5:30 PM Monday through Saturday

12:00 PM - 5:30 PM Sunday

This tour does not offer hotel pick-up. Price is per person. Admission to all attractions is included in the price. Please order online or call to order or for more information.


The History Center's growth was particularly dramatic during the 1990s. Inspired by the 1986 gift of the DuBose Collection, one of the nation's premier assemblages of Civil War artifacts, the History Center launched a $15 million capital campaign in early 1989 to build and equip the Atlanta History Museum. By the time the museum opened in October 1993 with five award-winning exhibitions including Metropolitan Frontiers, the History Center had already embarked upon a second, $11 million capital campaign. Before the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta opened, the History Center had added two additional signature exhibitions - Shaping Traditions: Folk Arts in a Changing South and Turning Point: The American Civil War - and built a 220-car parking deck and began planning for a library/archives expansion, a garden master plan and the opening of a fourth signature exhibition, Down the Fairway with Bobby Jones.

Museum Collections

Despite its name, the Atlanta History Center's Museum Collection is regional in nature and includes objects dating from the early 19th century to the present. At its core are those items of Atlanta and its environs past and present, but in order to place the history of the city in context, the collection also includes objects that refer to the history of Georgia, the South and the nation. The Museum Collection contains approximately 40,000 catalogued items.

Some examples of Collections:

Urban History Collection

Containing a broad representation of local and personal household effects from 1880-1950, the Urban and Regional History Collection is one important way that the Atlanta History Center works to inspire people to connect to the past.
The Urban History Collection explores family, community and professional life in both the metropolitan Atlanta area and the broader geographical region of Georgia and the South. It paints a picture of progression with objects from commercial and residential environments; communication and transportation advancements; political campaigns; civic celebrations; and sports activities. The Urban History Collection is complemented by the library and archival holdings in the Kenan Research Center.

Military History Collection

Ranging from the Spanish-American War to the First Gulf War, the non-Civil War military collections focus on both the military experience of native Georgians and military installations or events that originated in the state. The collection consists of approximately 1,000 objects.

Decorative Arts and Domestic Culture Collection

With more than 7,000 objects from furniture and fine art to glasswork and games, the decorative arts collection reflects the folk art and domestic life of certain periods in our history. On display in the Atlanta History Center historic houses and exhibitions, these items and their interpretations help the viewing public explore the changes in lifestyles in Atlanta and the Southeast region during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Civil War Collection

The majority of the 7,500 objects in the Atlanta History Center Military Collection relate to the American Civil War, a critical turning point in American history and a formative event for the South, Georgia and Atlanta. The History Center Civil War collections are national in scope, encompassing both Union and Confederate experiences in all theaters of conflict.

Textiles and Social History Collection

The Textiles and Social History holdings at the Atlanta History Center exist as an intimate record of the daily lives and bodies of Atlantans, from the city's earliest years as Terminus to the present day. The collection strives to document and illustrate everyday lives and is on display throughout the museum in all of its signature exhibitions.
The History Center's temporary exhibitions explore costumes, quilts and other collection-specific topics in depth. Additionally, individual items from the collection are available to historians, researchers, living history interpreters, fashion designers, students and other interested parties.

Centennial Olympic Games Collection

The Centennial Olympic Games Collection contains more than 6,000 museum artifacts donated by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG).
The collection includes athlete uniforms, costumes and props from Games ceremonies, cauldrons used during the torch relay, venue drawings and models, commemorative victory medals, original Olympic Poster Program artwork, sets of the Centennial Olympic Games pins, and much more.

Historic Houses

Swan House

May 2004 marked the completion of a five-year, $5.45 million restoration project designed to bring the 1928 Swan House back to its original historical appearance.
The interior and exterior architecture, furniture, wallpaper and paint, as well as the surrounding gardens and grounds of this 1928 mansion have all been authentically restored to our fullest capability, resulting in an Excellence in Restoration award from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
In addition to touring the newly restored mansion, visitors are now able to view five rooms formerly excluded from the tours. The butler's pantry, powder room, telephone room, guest bedroom and children's bedroom have all been added to tours allowing visitors the opportunity to finally see the house as family and guests did during the Inmans' residence.

Tullie Smith Farm

A plantation-plain house built in the 1840s by the Robert Smith family, Tullie Smith Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally located east of Atlanta, outside the city limits, the house survived the near-total destruction of Atlanta in 1864. Robert Smith was a yeoman farmer who owned eleven slaves and about 800 acres of land in present-day DeKalb County, Georgia. The Smith family cultivated approximately 200 acres of their land, while their cattle and hogs ranged freely nearby. Contrary to popular belief, yeoman farms were more common in Georgia than the large plantations many people associate with the "deep south."
The farm complex was moved to the Atlanta History Center's campus in 1969 and serves as a tangible reminder of the rural past in a metropolitan area where agriculture has essentially disappeared. Tullie Smith House is surrounded by a separate open-hearth kitchen, blacksmith shop, smokehouse, double corncrib, pioneer log cabin, and barn, as well as traditional vegetable, herb, and flower gardens. Costumed interpreters led tours of the house and perform everyday activities typical of 19th-century rural Georgia, including open-hearth cooking, animal care, blacksmithing, basket weaving, candle making, quilting, spinning and weaving.

Lee and Victorian Playhouses

The Lee Playhouse

The ca. 1937 Lee Playhouse is located along the path between McElreath Hall and the back entrance of the Atlanta History Museum and is open to play by children of all ages.
The playhouse was originally built by Charles R. Roberts, an Atlanta businessman, for his daughter. Like many real homes, the playhouse was expanded during the years; in fact, the rear addition was built for a later owner's cat. This playhouse remained in the same location for more than 60 years, until John Lee, the current owner of the Woodward Way home, donated it to the Atlanta History Center in 1998.

The Victorian Playhouse

While admiring the gardens of Swan House, take a moment to view the beguiling Victorian Playhouse. Built in 1890 of white clapboard with touches of "gingerbread" on its front porch and miniature wrought iron fencing, the house serves as one of the Atlanta History Center's tangible links to the turn of the century.
Made for the children of a prominent Atlanta family, the playhouse changed hands through the years, taking it on a veritable tour of the city's fashionable neighborhoods:

1890: Built by the Goldsmith family, 279 Peachtree Street
1906: Owned by the Seals family, Inman Park
1910: Owned by the Murphy family, Ansley Park
1926: Owned by the Hurt family, Brookwood Hills
1932: Owned by the Ellis family, Buckhead
1980: Donated to the Atlanta History Center by the Ellis family

While the playhouse is not structurally sound enough for children to play inside, plans are underway to restore and relocate the playhouse as the centerpiece of a children's garden.

This tour does not offer hotel pick-up. Price is per person. Admission to all attractions is included in the price. Please order online or call to order or for more information.

Cancellation Policy

There are no refunds. All sales are final.

Change policy

If changes are allowed on a tour or activity, a $20.00 per reservation change fee will be applied for any change to a reservation. Please note that some tours and activities do not allow any changes. Date changes can only be made only if we can confirm availability on the new date. While we cannot guarantee any changes can be made, all change requests must be submitted a minimum of 24 hours prior to the tour departure and must be handled on an individual basis through our Reservations Center.

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Use the form below to select the date for your reservation. Calendar defaults to first available date. Please verify your date selection prior to submitting your order.

<< September 2017 >>

If you are unable to select a date, it means the tour is unavailable on that date.

Calendar Key

Rates All rates are in US Dollars

Event Date:

September 19, 2017

Desired Time:

10:00 AM