History & Points of Interest

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History

Visit the Smyrna Historical Society website.

Smyrna, the "Jonquil City," has a long and colorful history, most of which cannot be offered on this website. For information beyond what is offered on this website, please contact the Smyrna Historical Society through the Smyrna Museum at 770-431-2858 or visit the facility located at 2861 Atlanta Road, Smyrna GA 30080 – adjacent to the Welcome Center (Aunt Fanny’s Cabin). The following is a summary of history the City of Smyrna:

Cobb County was at one time equally divided between the State of Georgia and the Cherokee Indians. In 1831 a settlement was reached that deeded all the land to the State of Georgia. Shortly after, settlers began drifting into this area and in 1832 a campground, at which members of all denominations could worship, was permanently established. Soon the present site of the City of Smyrna became the center of the social and religious life of the surrounding area. From this campground the Methodist Church was organized in 1838.

Smyrna was first known as Ruffs Siding and later Varners Station. Eventually, the name Smyrna was given to the campground area. The name "Smyrna" is found in the Bible's book of Revelation as the name of one of Paul the Apostle's seven churches in Asia.

The railroad once played a fairly significant role in Smyrna’s development. In 1836 the construction of a railroad began through Cobb County, and by the date of completion in 1842, the railroad had started Smyrna on its change from a frontier village to a growing community. The railroad helped establish the permanent location of the city and provided work for the townspeople. Gristmills and factories were also established in the 1840’s. These mills and factories played a prominent role in the early growth of the community. However, by the close of the 19th century, Smyrna was primarily an agrarian community. While there was industry and the railroad, the economy was by then largely based on agriculture.

Smyrna's first brick building was erected in 1850. It was originally built as a boys’ academy, called Smyrna Institute. The building was later used as an officers’ training school, a hospital, and a house of worship. When General Sherman marched through Cobb County in 1864, it was the only building standing in the downtown area. This building stood on the site of the old Masonic Lodge that once stood on West Spring. (On that site now stands an award winning mixed-use development - the Market Village- a vibrant part of the revitalized and active downtown. (For information about the Civil War in Georgia, visit http://gacivilwar.org/Home/About.) In 2013, the Cox/Armstrong Civil War Collection was installed in three displays of select items from the lifttime collection of Gerald Cox.  The link above leads to pages on the City of Smyrna website that displays the content of panels with each display (displays are at City Hall, Brawner Hall and the Smyrna Public Library).

The Market Village is the "social center" of Smyrna and sits adjacent to the "Village Green," home to the only city-owned library (Smyrna Public Library) of its kind in Georgia and a thriving and lively community center. The 20th Century Veterans Memorial rests between the Village Green and the Market Village at the intersection of City Hall and the Market Village. Bricks that have come to be called "Smyrna brick" line the walkways and pedestrian avenues of the new downtown. For more information on the economic development movement of Smyrna today and a brief overview of the Smyrna success story, go to the Success Story page in this section.

In 1872, the State of Georgia incorporated Smyrna as a municipality, the boundaries then extending for one mile in every direction from the Smyrna Boys’ Academy. The first city election was held in 1873. Smyrna also boasts having had the first female mayor elected in the State of Georgia, Lorena Pruitt, in 1946.

For information about Smyrna’s historic cemeteries, contact the Cemetery Commission representative through City Hall at 770-434-6600.

Aunt Fanny’s Cabin (Smyrna Welcome Center)

In 1941 Isoline Campbell MacKenna Howell founded and operated a unique restaurant, until 1948 when Harvey Hester and Mrs. Marjorie Bowman assumed operation. The restaurant was called "Aunt Fanny’s Cabin." Under the guidance of Mr. Hester and Mrs. Bowman, Aunt Fanny’s Cabin achieved status among celebrities and became a favorite southern themed dining spot, known throughout the country.

The restaurant served only authentic southern cooking and the atmosphere was rustic. The restaurant that grew in size over five decades was closed in 1992. The original cabin (where it all began) was purchased by the City of Smyrna and moved to its current location on Atlanta Road and dedicated as the new Welcome Center in 1999.

During the five decades of operation, the restaurant was visited by movie stars, sports figures, politicians and other celebrities who not only signed the guest book, but left behind many autographed photos. Although not all of the photographs were available to the City, many were obtained and grace the walls of the current structure.

To find out more, please call 770-319-5397or visit the facility at 2861 Atlanta Road, Smyrna GA 30080 – adjacent to the Museum. Hours of operation are Noon to 4:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday (except on various holidays).