Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend part 1 - Atlanta History Center

This past weekend was not only a holiday, but it was Steve's Birthday weekend as well! We had his mom and her boyfriend up from Savannah to celebrate with us so the weekend was absolutely packed full of fun stuff.

Although Savannah isn't very far from Atlanta (just a few hours in the car) there were a few big tourist destinations here that Glenda and Gary had never been to (and, as it turns out, some that Steve and I hadn't seen either) so we invested in an Atlanta City Pass for the weekend. If you are not familiar with City Pass, it is a type of all-in-one ticket that allows you to visit several attractions in one city for one price rather than paying individual admission prices. Ours turned out to be an excellent value for the price.

I decided to break up the post about this weekend into two smaller ones since there is so much to share!

The fun started on Saturday shortly after Glenda and Gary arrived. We pretty much jumped right into the car again and headed to Buckhead to the Atlanta History Center. This was the one attraction I had not been to before. I didn't even know it existed until about a week ago when we looked into the city pass. We had the option to either go to the Zoo or the History center and, since so many of our group are history fans, we chose the history center. The center is made up of a main museum with several different exhibits revolving around life in the Atlanta area. Then, outside the museum are gardens, the Historic Swan House (as seen in the upcoming movie, Catching Fire), and a working Antebellum Farm!

One thing that impressed me about the museum itself was the amount of things available to touch! They had signs like the one in the above picture asking people to touch various items throughout every exhibit. This one was a scale model of a home in Atlanta designed by the south's first woman architect.

My favorite part of the museum was the wing dedicated to the 1996 Olympics which took place in Atlanta. Those games occurred the summer after my family moved to Atlanta and our entire first year as southerners was full of Olympic preparations. We saw the torch being run through the city, my girl scout troop used the Olympic Mascot, Izzy, as our troop pen pal mascot, and my 3rd grade class did tons of Olympic related projects. The 1996 games really stand out in my mind as significant and it was so cool to see so much memorabilia. For instance, some replicas of the medals given at the games and a pair of shoes worn by Michael Johnson during one of his record setting runs at the games.

They had a separate display for each day of the Atlanta games in succession going around a track and I found this one particularly cool as it mentioned the Olympic Park bombing and the overwhelming amount of volunteers who showed up the day afterward to make sure the games could go on as planned. 

Another display showed the torches from all modern Olympic summer games since the beginning of the modern Olympic movement through the Atlanta games. Many of them were replicas or images, but a significant portion of them were actual torches. Steve called me a nerd when I got excited about the picture of the Dream Team from the 1992 Olympics in Spain. Clearly, he wasn't as much of a fan of Space Jam as I was. :)

Finally, I just want to remind everyone that this is how America chose to represent itself at the opening ceremonies of the 1996 games. Yes, that is a fanny pack in the official fashion design of the athlete uniforms. This is 90's fashion at its finest! lol

After we finished in the museum we explored the Smith Family Farm on the grounds of the center which was similar to historic Jamestown in that they have people acting out various roles on the farm so visitors can see how the place would have functioned. I felt so bad for the blacksmith and the cook since they had to stand over hot fires all day in those heavy clothes!

We picked a great weekend to visit the center because they had tons of war reenactors on site to answer questions and share historical information. People reenacting everything from the Revolution to Vietnam! We spotted this guy giving a talk in the barn on the farm.

The house on the farm and several other buildings are actual historical buildings that were brought from their original site and placed at the center once the family stopped living there in the 1960's. I thought that was so cool! The other buildings are replicas of the original outbuildings from the farm.

Our last stop at the center was the historic Swan House.

We found out after our tour that this house is being used in the movie Catching Fire as the location of a party for the returning victors in the Capitol. They will likely be using the more dramatic front of the house (the above picture is the back side of the home if you can believe it). We couldn't see the front of the house that day because there was a wedding rehearsal going on!

Anyway, the home itself was beautiful and reminded me a lot of Downton Abbey with the antiques and general grandeur of the home. I was really impressed because the tour is set up as if the participants are interviewing for a position within the household. The tour guide was dressed as a butler from the time period when the home was built and gives the entire tour in character! We even had to use the servant's stairs to go to the second floor. It was awesome!

Unfortunately, we could not take pictures inside of the home, but I highly encourage anyone in the area to visit! We could, however, take pictures of the gardens. Aren't they beautiful?

There was also a little Victorian style playhouse near the home where the grandchildren would play.

We left after our tour of the Swan House because we had tickets to Medieval Times for dinner. Glenda and Gary had never experienced the cheesy and hilarious dinner theatre style event, and Steve and I love that type of thing, so we could not pass up the chance to go. They loved it! Our knight got beat in the first round, but it was fun regardless.

I'll put up another post later about the rest of the weekend fun!

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