Hardy Pace, the Founder of Vinings
In the early 1800s, Hardy Pace, an adventurous entrepreneur originally from North Carolina, moved his wife andsmall children from his father’s plantation in Putnam County, Georgia to settle in the vicinity of West Paces Ferry Road.Hardy amassedextensive land holdings through the Georgia Land Lottery of 1832. He is reputed to have owned more than 10,000 acres of land from Smyrna to Buckhead.
When Hardy moved to Vinings the area was called Crossroads which soon became Pace’s Crossing with Hardy being the first postmaster. He and his wife, Lucy, had five children; two sons, Bushrod and Solomon, and three daughters, Catherine, Karen and Parthenia. Hardy built a 17 room home at the foot of Vinings Mountain where he also ran a tavern for travelers passing through.
By the early 1830s Hardy established a successful ferry service located near the site of Canoe Restaurant today. He also built a gristmill along the river. Thus our street names, Paces Ferry Road and Paces Mill Road! In fact, anything around Atlanta named Pace is so named because of Hardy Pace.
With the winds of the Civil War, Hardy and his family left for Milledgeville and Sherman and his troops moved into Vinings, headquartering in Pace’s home.Hardy’s home was burned to the ground upon their departure. After the war, Hardy’s son, Solomon, returned to Vinings and finding the family home in ruins, built his house on the same site as Hardy’s. This is the Solomon and Penelopy Pace House that stands on Paces Mill today. Hardy and his wife are buried in the family cemetery on top of Mt. Wilkinson, formerly Vinings Mountain.A bronze statue, made by Hilarie Johnston, stands in the Paces West Office complex on Paces Ferry Road.
Nancy Still and The Trail of Tears
The history of our village of Vinings goes back to the early nineteenth century when the area was Indian territory. Native American civilization was found in villages on both sides of the Chattahoochee River. The women and children farmed and the men hunted and traded.
Nancy Still, a Cherokee, represents the plight of the Cherokees during that era. Nancy, believed to be a widow, held a farm that she and her six children had improved. In 1832 Cobb County was formed, including what would be Vinings and land lotteries were held. Ignoring the Supreme Court’s position that Indian land could not be taken, Georgia passed the Indian Removal Act of 1832, which said that any Native Americans found on land won in the lottery could be removed.
In 1835 Still passionately appealed to Georgia’s governor Wilson Lumpkin to let her keep the land to which she was rightfully entitled. Her plea was recorded as “my little children has made all the improvements with thare hand. if we are turned out my children will perish.” Her plea fell on deaf ears and the family was forced to leave.They joined 20,000 other Cherokees on the 1200 mile journey to Oklahoma known as The Trail of Tears. Her fate is unknown as there is no record of her reaching Oklahoma. The statue of Still holding a gilded peach was made by Hilarie Johnston in 1991 and stands in the lower courtyard of the Paces West Office Complex at 2727 Paces Ferry Road.
Nellie Mae Rowe
Nellie Mae Rowe was born in 1900 in Fayetteville, Georgia. Her parents were from slave families and she was the youngest of ten children. She married at the age of 16 and followed her uncle to Vinings. Six years later her husband perished after being kicked by a mule. She later married Henry “Buddy” Rowe. She worked as a domestic in Vinings and after Buddy’s death in 1948 she began to transform their two room house into her folk art studio, which she referred to as her “playhouse.”Her yard had handmade chewing gum sculptures on the fence posts, drawings affixed to the interior and exterior of the house, life size dolls she made out of quilts and other adornments she simply found such as Christmas ornaments, generic images of Jesus and a plastic Virgin Mary.In the early years the community was not happy with Nellie Mae’s so publicly displayed creations. They called her a conjurer and a hoodoo. However, as curiosity grew so did Nellie Mae’s art and the community began to change their attitude.
In the mid 1970s she first began to gain widespread attention. People came by busloads to see her house in Vinings. Nellie Mae lived there until she died in 1983. Her work is shown today in the Smithsonian Art Museum in Washington as well as galleries in New York, Philadelphia and the High Museum in Atlanta.
So where was this “playhouse?” It was on the site formally occupied by The Marriott on Paces Ferry Road. A commemorative plaque and a large shade tree mark the spot.