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Into the Woods

Just down the hill from the Miller-Ward Alumni House, on Houston Mill Road, is the entrance to Hahn Woods, formally known as the T. Marshall Hahn Commemorative Forest.

Hahn Woods parking lot
The parking lot at Hahn Woods.

This Emory landmark came to mind last week when I learned of the passing of the man for whom the woods are named—T. Marshall Hahn Jr., Emory trustee emeritus and former CEO of Georgia-Pacific. Among his achievements were a PhD in physics from MIT at the age of 23 and appointment at the age of 35 to the presidency of Virginia Tech, which he built into a research university during his tenure from 1962 to 1974. His obituary from the Roanoke (Va.) Times is here. Marshall had served as chair of the Emory trustees’ Investment Committee and a member of the Executive Committee until his elevation to emeritus status at age 70 in 1997. He blended academic aspiration and business acumen in an extraordinary way.

Hahn Woods is well worth a visit. A stroll along its paths not only leads into a literal grove of academe but also introduces something of the area’s history.

Hahn Woods marker

This 4.7-acre preserve was part of a 60-acre parcel that the university acquired from the owners of the Houston Mill House in 1960. In the succeeding decades Emory covered over a pasture and a swimming pool with construction debris, creating a landfill.

Hahn Woods meadow
The meadow at Hahn Woods formerly was used by Emory as a dump for construction debris. Before Emory acquired the land from the Harry Carr family, in 1960, a swimming pool had been on the site.

In 1993, through a partnership with Georgia-Pacific, which sought to honor its retiring CEO, the university began reclaiming the site as a teaching area for environmental preservation—an effort dear to Marshall’s interests.

Entering the woods from the parking lot, you have a choice between an upper trail, leading past the meadow, or a lower trail that skirts the creek.

Hahn Woods path
The beginning of the lower trail in Hahn Woods

Washington Jackson Houston (pronounced HOUSE-ton) chose this site along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek for his mill, for which the nearby road is named. Houston acquired the property in 1842 from his father, Dr. Chapmon Powell, who had settled in the Decatur area in the 1820s and is buried with his wife and other family members in the cemetery on Emory’s Clairmont Campus.

Houston built a dam in the ravine to the east of the road.

Houston Mill dam
Houston Mill dam today

Just downstream stand the remains of a single-lane bridge that once carried traffic on Houston Mill Road across the creek. This iron bridge was replaced by a concrete bridge in 1952—the same concrete bridge still used by hundreds of commuters daily.

Houston Mill old bridge
The remains of Washington Jackson Houston’s iron bridge.

Pillars mark the path leading past the dam.

Hosuton Mill stone pillars

Around 1900 Houston converted his mill operations from grinding grist to generating electricity.

In the 1920s Harry Carr acquired the property and resumed grist milling. He built his Houston Mill House in 1925—the same year that Walter Candler developed his Lullwater estate half a mile upstream. Following Carr’s death in 1958—again, coincidentally, the year Emory acquired Lullwater—Emory in 1960 negotiated the purchase of the property from his widow with the provision that she be permitted to live in the house until her death. She died in 1976.

Hahn Woods lower trail
The lower trail, looking upstream toward the bend to the parking lot at Hahn Woods.

Hahn Woods now hides a lot of history but still retains traces of the past on which Emory’s campus has been built.

Gary Hauk

Haygood’s old house

Back on Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, a meeting of the Georgia Humanities board of directors took me to Watkinsville, Georgia — about an hour and a half east of Emory. As the county seat of Oconee County, Watkinsville has a small but bustling downtown and a thriving arts scene, anchored by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation, which itself is worth the trip.

Most interesting to me, though, was the boyhood home of 19th-century Emory president Atticus Greene Haygood. I stopped to see it on the way out of town at the end of the day.

Haygood historical marker

Born in the house in 1839, Atticus Haygood had a sickly childhood and suffered from epilepsy. Consequently he spent many hours indoors reading precociously and taking early to the likes of Lord Byron, Thomas Carlyle, and Walter Scott–stretching his imagination and honing a facility with the written word that would later make him a compelling preacher and author.

While his father, Greene Haygood, was a busy lawyer, Atticus’s maternal grandfather was a Methodist minister in the town, and the Haygood home was a way station for many visiting preachers. One of these, quoted by Haygood’s biographer Harold Mann 47Ox 49C 51G, recalled the “old-time, two-story house, built for room and convenience” on “a beautiful level site, with twenty-six varieties of fruit and forest trees . . ., a well of good water and a dry well in which to keep milk cool.”

Haygood Home, Watkinsville, Georgia

Haygood home

 

The Haygood home was governed by a deep, Methodist religiosity, and with a preacher grandfather and clergy coming and going, Atticus naturally was drawn to preaching himself. Legend has it that the large rock fifty yards behind the house, overlooking a small stream, served as his first pulpit. It has thus come to be known as Pulpit Rock.

Haygood's Pulpit Rock

It stands about four feet high from base to summit, and one can easily imagine childhood friends and younger siblings pressed into service as a congregation.

Pulpit Rock
The view from Pulpit Rock, with a 21st-century conveyance awaiting today’s preacher.

Today the house is home to the Chappelle Gallery and Happy Valley Pottery. A trail alongside the gallery’s property leads past Pulpit Rock to a six-acre public park named Watkinsville Woods. If you can’t get there in person, check it out on Facebook.

Gary Hauk

Love at first photo op

Dateline: Church School Building Fellowship Hall, April 12, 1956 —

The four years in Emory College had challenged Clint Rodgers, but he had done well. Emory’s Air Force ROTC had prepared him for a career flying jets. His major in Spanish had satisfied his delight in language. So here he was, weeks away from picking up his diploma at the Emory Commencement exercises in the Church School Amphitheater.

Meanwhile, there was work to do in the Language Lab, in old Fishburne Hall (where the Goizueta Business School now stands). He tutored students, set up instruction tapes, and plied his expertise in Spanish. Leaving the lab one April day, he turned to make his way to the Church School Building. There, Emory faculty would mingle with the best language students from each Atlanta-area high school, who had been invited to “Language Day” to learn  more about the university.

As he set out, Clint encountered two young women who were lost. Did he know where the Language Day program was being held? Why, yes he did, and he was headed that way himself. He’d be happy to accompany them.

One of those young women was Susan Russell, a student at Girls’ High School in Atlanta. Clint and Susan sat together at the program, and a friendship bloomed. Then a romance. And then marriage. After her freshman year at Emory–during which Clint worked while awaiting an Air Force commission–they tied the knot and headed to Lackland Air Force Base for their honeymoon.

But it all began at Language Day.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 8.40.01 AM
Language Day, April 12, 1956. Clint Rodgers and Susan Russell are shown in circle. Judson C. “Jake” Ward, then dean of Emory College, is seated fifth from the left in front. This room, in the Church School Building, is now named for Ward, who taught Sunday School there for 50 years.

 

 

 

Hidden and half-forgotten time capsule

Mere yards from one of the busiest pedestrian thoroughfares at Emory, and just steps from the DUC terraces, lies a treasure obscured by holly and time. It’s the Sesquicentennial Time Capsule.

On December 10, 1986, immediately after the Sesquicentennial Convocation in Glenn Memorial, a procession wended its way across the campus to the relatively new Dobbs University Center, whose terraces are visible in the photo below. The site from which this photo is taken is the location of the time capsule.

View from the time capsule to DUC terraces
View from the time capsule to DUC terraces

Here you see the holly bush that has grown up over the time capsule.

View from DUC terraces to the bush hiding the time capsule
View from DUC terraces to the bush hiding the time capsule

And here is another view, courtesy of Bob Hamilton in Campus Life.

DUC time capsule

Once the procession had made its way to the “grassy knoll” in front of the DUC, a crowd gathered around Dooley, present for the burial of something other than himself into the gaping hole prepared for the ceremony. A time capsule planned for the 150th anniversary of Emory’s founding was filled with 150 items, including cans of Classic Coke, Cherry Coke, and Diet Coke. (The controversy over New Coke had recently filled the newspapers–clippings from which were also included in the time capsule.) A commission appointed by President Jim Laney to review the university’s investments with regard to South Africa’s apartheid struggle had recently issued its report; a copy was placed in the time capsule. President Laney had delivered an attention-getting speech at Harvard titled “The Education of the Heart.” Into the capsule. Someone thought to include a copy of a Chem 141 exam and a videotape of a Rathskellar performance (but not technology to play it on). A tee shirt from the local watering hole, P.J. Haley’s, was included; the time capsule already has outlasted the pub. Emory’s first intercollegiate basketball team had played its first away game days before, losing to NYU; a team photograph, signed by all the players, went into the time capsule.

And then the things was buried, to be dug up in fifty years.

Burying the time capsule

Within a couple of decades, however, a little holly bush soon grew up to hide the marker indicating the time capsule’s location.

Bush that hides the time capsule
Bush that hides the time capsule

DUC time capsule 3

If you know where to look, you can find it–though you may have to scrape away leaves, pine straw, and dirt to read the plaque.

Time capsule

Here it is, photo inverted to make the text readable.

Time capsule inverted

Sesquicentennial Time Capsule

buried here on December 10, 1986

to be opened in 50 years on

Emory’s 200th Anniversary

I hope to be present at the opening!

Meanwhile, there’s a plan afoot to raze the DUC and rebuild a magnificent new university center in its place. Let’s be sure to work around that time capsule.

Gary Hauk