Longtime Roswell resident shares Goulding Place memories

Street attracts new development



ROSWELL, Ga. — At a young age, Grace Withers played on her street, rode horses and bought Coca-Cola for 5 cents at the corner store.

Withers, now in her 80s, was one of the early residents at the now historic Goulding Place just off Canton Street in uptown Roswell.

“The day we moved, we carried some of the things up the hill,” said Withers, who now lives at Elmcroft Senior Living Communities in Roswell. “We enjoyed living in that home very much.”

When she learned 109 Goulding Place was sold, she recalled the years her family spent in the home.

The home, which sits on 16 acres, was sold in May for nearly $6 million and will be developed by Front Door Communities into a subdivision.

Front Door Communities plans to build Goulding Village, which will include upscale single-family homes as well as townhomes, keeping with the look of historic Roswell.

Withers retold the story of when her father, James Isaac Wright, bought the home and later modernized it in the early 1940s for what was then the princely sum of $5,000.

When her family moved into the now historic home, she was just a teenager. The home had a well on the porch, and indoor bathrooms and outside columns had not been added.

Withers’ father is credited with donating the land for Roswell’s first park, Waller Park.

He also built the first swimming pool in the city. Until then, they would have to travel to Chastain Park to swim.

“That was the closest swimming pool,” said Withers.

All of her neighbors had big families, so Withers and her siblings had plenty of friends to play with outdoors into the evening.

The children would play together in the street, she said. Games like kick the can and froggy in the mill pond were popular, she said.

“We weren’t afraid of cars,” said Withers, “because they hardly ever came along.”

She recounted how all the families put in money to build a tennis court, so the people on the street had a place to play near the history home.

The family owned several dogs, cats and two horses. Withers said she and her siblings enjoyed riding the horses.

During that time, the big family names in the area were the Donahues, the Colemans and the Wrights, she recalled. Her father ran a Chevrolet car dealership for 27 years.

Roswell children went to a school on Mimosa Boulevard (now the Teaching Museum North) that held classes for first through ninth grade. Milton High School in Alpharetta served Roswell too, and there were only 11 grades in those days.

She can remember when Ga. 400 was first paved. Her father, the adventurous type, drove up and down the highway before the public was allowed, she said.

Withers graduated from high school cum laude. She graduated from Bessie Tift College, north of Macon (it closed in 1987). She met her husband, William Hoyt Withers in Macon.

“We had been to church and he was walking me home and he thought he’d hold my hand, and I wouldn’t let him,” Withers said.

They married in 1949 at the First Baptist Church in Roswell. Their reception was held in the dining room of the Goulding Place home.

Withers and her husband then moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to finish graduate school, studying religious education.

The couple had four children: Dale, Jane, Jean and Cathy.

She now has eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

While living at Goulding Place, the family started many traditions that Withers and her immediate family maintain to this day.

The family gathers for a Christmas party, where the whole family sings together. The family also gathers in Augusta each year to celebrate her father’s birthday.

In 1952, she and her husband moved back to Roswell and worked as teachers in area schools.

Withers was a teacher for 32 years. After retiring, she became a substitute teacher for about 15 years while volunteering at what is today North Fulton Hospital.

“I wish I was still doing that,” said Withers about volunteering.

She was a volunteer at the hospital for 20 years.

Withers’ husband passed when he was 60 years old in 1986. At the time, they had been married for 37 years.

When asked about what she thinks of 109 Goulding Place now, Withers said, “It’s always home to me.”

RN 07-10-14

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