The Hembree house, with its detached kitchen building, is one of the oldest settler’s farmsteads still existing
in north Fulton County. Amariah Hembree, along with his son Elihu, purchased 40 gold lots or 640 acres
of land near present-day Roswell during the 1830s and settled on the land most recently occupied by Cherokee farmers.
The Hembrees may have lived in an abandoned Cherokee cabin upon their arrival in the area. The Gold
Lottery drawings of 1832 occurred between October 22, 1832 and May 1, 1833 and applied to land once occupied by the Cherokee
Indians. Those successful in the lottery paid a grant fee of $10.00 per lot. Many lottery winners sold their lot immediately
to ambitious farmers like the Hembrees.
The Hembree farm grew cotton for the
Roswell Manufacturing Company along with other crops including vegetables and sorghum. The Hembree family and other local
settlers established the Lebanon Baptist Church at the Hembree home in July 1836. The home has remained in the Hembree family
for at least eight generations. The Hembree family’s influence on the Roswell community is evident in the naming of
two major thoroughfares, an elementary school, and two subdivisions for the family.
In April 2007, determined to preserve her pioneer family’s 8-generation history and heritage, heir and
owner Carmen Ford offered the Society an opportunity to preserve
a portion of the original farm. The Roswell Historical Society accepted the generous gift of the historic circa 1835 Hembree
farmhouse, detached kitchen, two hand-hewn log corn cribs, and one acre of land. Today, a portion of the original farmstead
and some of the buildings are now owned and being restored by the Society while Ms. Ford remains very involved in this restoration
Because the frontage of the property was slated for development,
the Society moved the four historic buildings to the reserved 1-acre plot at the rear of the property near Elihu Hembree’s
grave. Work has begun to restore the structures and preserve them for future generations. In February of
2009, the Society received a National Trust for Historic Preservation Preservation Services grant. This
grant, matched by the Society, funded an historic preservation consultant to conduct a conditions assessment study of the
structures. The consultant’s report will guide future work and make it possible to apply for additional
grants to fund the restoration project.
By accepting the Hembree Farm, the Society hopes to demonstrate the power historic preservation
can have in a community by providing a sense of our past, our culture, and our heritage. Guided by historic preservation consultant
Connie Huddleston, a dedicated committee has been formed to direct all restoration work and to guide the Society’s decisions
on how the structures are to be used. Initial suggestions include a museum, a nineteenth-century educational center, and/or
a meeting space for the Society and other groups.
Already, Roswell residents
have noticed changes at the property, which lies near the intersection of Hembree and Upper Hembree roads, as the chimneys
were dismantled and the structures were moved to their new site. In early 2008, Society members and volunteers conducted archaeological
excavations at the site of the kitchen. The house and kitchen have been placed on permanent foundations,
and a shelter roof was built over the corn cribs to protect them from weather until they can be restored.
In the summer of 2010,
advisors and students from the Crossroads Second Chance School in Roswell installed and maintained a vegetable and flower
garden on the Hembree Farm property. Produce from the garden is offered for sale at a local farmers market, with
proceeds split between the school and the Society.
Plans for the near
future are to reconstruct the four chimneys, begin landscaping the property, and to begin restoration of the interiors of
the house and kitchen. All work depends on funding and volunteers. We welcome you to
become involved either as a volunteer or by making a contribution. The Society has established a fund for
the restoration of the structures. Your tax-deductible donations, earmarked for the Hembree Farm Fund,
may be sent to:
Roswell Historical Society
The Great Flea Fling at Hembree Farm is held on the property.
Proceeds benefit the Society's preservation and restoration projects on the site. Click on the Flea Fling button at
the bottom of this page for information on the 2011 event.