RHODES CASTLE

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PRIOR TO 1903, AMES G. RHODES, A WEALTHY FURnirure dealer from Atlanta, Georgia, had traveled extensively in Europe admiring the many castles there, especially those he saw in Germany along the Rhine. Upon returning to Atlanta, he decided to erect an elaborate structure as a home, built in the architectural style of a Rhineland castle. Architect Willis F. Denny was employed to design the Rhodes Castle with instructions to incorporate features found on the various German castles. Construction was begun in 1903 and completed in 1905, with the composite castle resulting in a design admirably achieved by the architect. Rhodes Castle, also known as Rhodes Hall, is composed of seventeen highly detailed rooms on three stories, with an exterior of cut granite featuring rugged towers, turrets, and battlements. Beautiful, carved mantels were imported from abroad and all woodwork was hand-carved with inlaid wood flooring designed in intricate patterns. Perhaps one of the most interesting exterior features of the castle is the main, stone portico with its series of broad arches resting on columns having carved, protruding, square, stone capitals. Each of the outer corners of this massive portico is occupied by a high buttress, a feature also found on other exterior portions of the castle, including the main, square tower. Bordering the portico roof are closely spaced merlons that are also found bordering the main tower roof and other arcades of the castle. The main portico is further enhanced with a ceiling of inset panels uniformly patterned in small squares. The main, square building tower occupies one cor- ner of the castle, rising several stories with rectangular windows on the first two stories and twin, arched windows on the third story. Below the upper battlements surrounding this tower are a series of small, narrow, arched openings on each side with small, rectangular windows immediately below them. A conical-roofed circular tower, to the right of the main tower, rises two stories above the first main floor of the castle. This tower’s main room is an extension of the second floor of the building, with a series of arched windows occupying the semicircular exterior tower wall. Centered above these windows is a dormer window with its pitched roof projecting in contrast to the adjoining conical tower roof. Other similar conical and pitched roofs are found at various positions on this castle of well-adapted and blended composite architecture. Many of the castle’s interior rooms are extremely detailed with intricately patterned and frescoed walls, ceilings, and floors. The ceilings vary in design with ornamentation and inlaid, carved paneling. Fireplaces have exquisite, carved designs, some flanked by wall columns with detailed capitals that join projected cornice moldings. Low-hung, highly ornamented chandeliers and wall lighting fixtures are found throughout the castle and are well suited to their individual rooms. The main staircase is a work of art with a highly carved balustrade on the curved stairway where, on the landing, are found the famous pictorial, stainedglass windows. These windows depict scenes of the Battle of Bull run, the farewell of General Lee to his soldiers, and the inauguration of Jefferson Davis, all of which are well rendered on these several mullioned, high windows. In later years, Rhodes Castle was the headquarters of the Department of Archives and History of Georgia until 1965, when the department moved into its new spacious building. The castle is still used by the state, and with its sturdy construction, it should last for many years to come. The compelling architecture of Rhodes Castel is singular both in its design and attrac- tive interior, which make it one of the most notable structures of its kind in America, and certainly a credit to the state of Georgia. Rhodes Castle in Atlanta, Georgia, was built to in- corporate architecture found in the Rhineland castles in Germany. The castle features rugged granite towers, turrets, and battlements. Once the home of the wealthy Amos G. Rhodes and later headquarters of the Georgia Dept. of Archives and History, the castle still exists today and is used by the state. Courtesy Dept. of Archives and History, Atlanta, Georgia.
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