Though it has been absorbed by Acworth today, Mars Hill was once a rural community in Cobb County, centered around a Presbyterian church, cemetery, and this schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was deeded to Cobb County in 1902 and remained in use until 1938. Today, it is used by the Mars Hill Memorial Association, the group charged with overseeing the adjacent cemetery.
Bethel A. M. E. is one of the most historic Black congregations in Cobb County and remains an active part of the community. Membership has ebbed and flowed over the years, as with many churches, but those who appreciate the history do a good job of keeping it alive. The History of Bethel A. M. E. notes: Bethel A.M.E. was built by the skilled hands of freed slaves, and has stood throughout time… Bethel A.M.E.’s church history recalls General Sherman’s march throughout Georgia. At the end of the Civil War, there were 200 freed slaves remaining in Acworth. The emancipated slaves immediately became a vital part of the Acworth community, and took on a monumental task, and used their artistry and skill to build a church. After the end of slavery, members of the Bethel A.M.E. church and Zion Hill Missionary Baptist church shared church buildings. This tradition of alternating Sunday services lasted for many years until Zion Missionary Baptist church moved to a more contemporary church building in 1914; while the members of the Bethel A.M.E. remained in the original church building built by the freed slaves. Bethel A.M.E was built in 1878*, and a bell tower was added in 1895.
*-Some sources list the date of construction as 1882.
National Register of Historic Places
The Acworth Rosenwald School was originally located on School Street but when Cobb County planned to demolish it in the late 1940s, the community came together and moved it to its present location on Cherokee Street and rebuilt it board by board. It served as a gathering place for Acworth’s Black community, but went through periods of disuse over the years. Due to the efforts of Cobb Landmarks, it has been preserved and is now owned by the city of Acworth. It continues to serve the community.
This high-style Queen Anne is perhaps the finest example of the style to be found in Acworth. It was built by Jesse L. Lemon for his bride, Elizabeth “Lizzie” McMillan. Jesse was the son of prominent banker, retailer, and Acworth pioneer, Smith Lemon.
Stephen D. Cowen* [Cowan] (10 December 1823-19 November 1900) moved to Acworth from Jackson County in the 1850s, according to the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places though at least one local source states that he came from Virginia. He built this house, the center of a 1200-acre farm, in 1854. He brought eight young slaves with him to this enterprise. The house somehow survived the burning of Acworth. After Cowen’s death, numerous families owned the house until it was acquired by the Acworth Historical Society in the late 1990s and eventually restored.
*- Cowen’s gravestone spells the surname Cowen, but modern appearances of the name, including signage at the house and on the Acworth website, spell it Cowan. I’m unsure why there is a discrepancy. I’m using the name on his gravestone until I learn more.
National Register of Historic Places
James Lile Lemon (27 October 1835-12 June 1907), and his brother, Smith Lemon, were among the earliest settlers of Acworth. James and his wife Mary Davenport Lemon built this home in 1856, four years before the town’s incorporation. It began as a small farmhouse and was expanded into a modified Plantation Plain. The portico was added in 1890, replacing a two-story porch.
Major General William T. Sherman stayed in the house during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain [6-9 June 1864]. Some sources also note that the house was used as a hospital. It is said that Sherman ordered the house burned but it was spared when a lieutenant ordered other fires to be ceased.
Descendants of the James and Mary Lemon still own and maintain this important home.