Attorney adds to preservation efforts with Dolvin House restoration
Renovated home once called Roswell’s ‘White House’
ROSWELL, Ga. – Amid the swirl of recent attention focused on Roswell’s Historic District, Rachel Platt sits behind a desk in her new law office with satisfaction.
The Roswell attorney is basking in her new digs at 138 Bulloch Ave., right in the heart of the Historic District. The new law office sits across the street from Mimosa Hall, the site of recent controversy over its recent sale to Hedgewood Homes. Hedgewood is proposing to build some 50 cottages on the 9-acre property while preserving the 6,000-square-foot antebellum mansion. (See December 22 article).
Platt feels comfortable that her restoration of the nearby Dolvin House fits the profile the city would like to see in the area.
Once referred to as the “Roswell White House,” the Dolvin House was home to Jimmy Carter’s “Aunt Sissy,” Emily Frances Gordy Dolvin, who was among the future president’s first and most fervent supporters in his early political career.
There is certainly a “coolness factor” in operating a law office in a place where Jimmy Carter conducted some of his political strategy sessions.
“My husband and I were looking to buy a property in the downtown Roswell area where I would operate my law firm,” Platt said. “I looked at a bunch of different houses, but this house – the history and the old antebellum feel, the old porch – is just exactly what I pictured when I pictured. You know, that kind of ‘old school’ law firm feel.”
The ties to Jimmy Carter only added to her interest, she said.
“Roswell has such a rich history,” Platt said. “Being a part of that is so neat, so fascinating. We really enjoy it.”
Platt grew up in Roswell after her parents moved to the area when she was 8. She attended Roswell High School. After earning her law degree at UGA, she moved back to the area and set up practice in Sandy Springs.
Six years ago, she and her husband, Ryan Goodman, moved back to Roswell but she maintained the Sandy Springs office which was in a three-story office building.
In recent years, though, she was looking for a place to hang her shingle in the city of her youth.
The Dolvin House went on the market in January, listing for $775,000. The Platts closed on the property in June. They spent the rest of the summer renovating.
“It had a really good structure and it didn’t need a ton of work,” she said. “Most of the renovation involved cosmetic improvements and restorations.”
Platt said she was in contact with the Roswell Historical Preservation Commission from the get-go.
“Once they realized we were going to keep the character of the property – we changed very little on the outside – they were very easy to work with,” she said.
The Platts removed the old carpeting and had new wood floors installed, modernized the kitchen and an upstairs kitchenette and eliminated some of the bathrooms.
“There were a lot of bathrooms, and you don’t need a lot of bathrooms, showers and tubs in an office,” she said.
Throughout the process, Platt was careful to not overdo the remodeling.
“We wanted to certainly keep the feeling of the house, and kind of decorate that,” she said. “We put in wood floors and gave it a paint job, just a facelift.”
She also ensured the home was decorated suitably for an office. She opened for business Oct. 15. Her firm consists of one other attorney and a paralegal. The home also provides offices for three other lawyers.
In the two months since opening, Platt said she’s getting used to the feel.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “I have really loved it more than I ever thought I could. I love being in Roswell more than I thought I would when I moved over the river.”
Part of the professional homecoming has involved getting acquainted with the local business community.
“There’s a thriving business community in Roswell, other lawyers, other businesses, and I love operating out of the house,” she said. “And I love just being in the house and having it be my house. It feels more homey, more comfortable.”