Rome, GA, is the largest city in North Georgia and it is also the county seat of Floyd County. According to the U.S. Census in 2000, Rome had a population of 34,980 and a total land area of 29.8 square miles. Rome played an important role in the history of Georgia and many parts of the city have been designated as historic including Between the Rivers Historic District, East Rome Historic District, Jackson Hill Historic District, Upper Avenue A Historic District, Lower Avenue A Historic District, Mt. Aventine Historic District and the South Broad Street Historic District.
During the early 1800’s, North Georgia was settled by Europeans who often clashed with the Native American Cherokee Indians and small militias roamed the countryside. In 1834, a group of military officers met at a fresh water spring near what is now Rome to replenish their supply of drinking water. Their names were Col. Daniel R. Mitchell, Col. Zacharia Hargrove, Maj. Philip Hemphill, Col. William Smith, and John Lumpkin who was the nephew of Georgia’s governor. John Lumpkin is reputed to have been in possession of some homemade North Georgia moonshine that he shared with the other explorers and the idea of founding a city emerged from their merriment. They chose the name for their city by putting choices into a hat and drawing out Rome, which Col. Daniel R. Mitchell had entered because the terrain reminded him of Rome, Italy.
Because of John Lumpkin’s political connections, Rome was quickly incorporated as a city in 1835. In 1836, the first steamboat navigated up the Coosa River to Rome and in 1839 the Rome Railroad was constructed. By 1860, Rome had become a center of trade in North Georgia. During the Civil War, Rome was heavily damaged by General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Army on their infamous march to Atlanta, and Rome experienced economic depression along with the rest of North Georgia from the post-Civil War Reconstruction period through World War II. In 1929, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini presented the City of Rome with a bronze statue that replicated an original Italian marble sculpture of Romulus and Remus nursing from the Capitoline Wolf. The statue was installed in front of Rome’s City Hall with a plaque whose inscription read, “This statue of the Capitoline Wolf, as a forecast of prosperity and glory, has been sent from Ancient Rome to New Rome during the consulship of Benito Mussolini in the year 1929.” During World War II, the statue was moved into storage to prevent vandalism and replaced with an American flag but in 1952, it was moved back to its former location in front of City Hall.
Real estate in Rome
Rome is far enough from Atlanta to be out of the urban sprawl yet close enough to be called a suburb. The estimated median home value in Rome was $130,059 in 2007, having appreciated from $86,600 in 2000. The cost of living index in Rome is relatively low at 81.1 and the average population density is 1,241 people per square mile.
Families with children are attracted to Rome because the city operates its own excellent public school system and it is located in a beautiful rural area at the center of interconnecting highways and rivers. The residential real estate market in Rome is characterized by a blend of older and newer single family detached homes in well maintained neighborhoods. Typical ranch style 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom homes on ¼ acre of land range in price from under $100,000 to $150,000.
Hotels in Rome include America’s Best Value Inn, Ashwood Inn & Suites, Best Western Executive Inn, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Country Hearth Inn, Days Inn, Hampton Inn, Hawthorne Suites, Jameson Inn, Kings Inn, La Quinta Inn, Ramada Skytop Center and Relax Inn. For those who desire more romantic accommodations, the Claremont House is an elegant Victorian bed and breakfast inn that was built in 1882 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other bed and breakfast inns in Rome include Dillard’s, The Tumlin House and Zion Farms, an equestrian resort with guest cottages, gardens, horse stables and mountain trails through 340 acres of private pastoral land.
Historic downtown Rome is a great place to shop for clothes, handmade jewelry and other special gifts. There are also 7 shopping centers with food stores and general merchandise stores, and the Mount Berry Square Mall features more than 50 specialty stores. Restaurants such as Provino’s, Bella Roma, BrickOven Bistro, The Country Gentleman, and La Scala Restaurant & Bar specialize in Italian cuisine, which is very popular in Rome because of its association with Rome, Italy. Southern style barbecue is also popular at restaurants like Backyard BBQ , Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q and Big Bears BBQ.
Residents of Rome are fortunate to be able to enjoy many local cultural attractions. The Rome Symphony Orchestra is the first and oldest symphony orchestra in the South, and it performs a diverse repertoire of concerts at the Rome City Auditorium each year. From the historic DeSoto Theater on Broad Street, the Rome Little Theater presents an annual schedule of popular musicals and dramatic performances. The DeSoto Theater features an authentic Art Deco exterior marquee, a mirrored entryway and a lush interior.
Rome contains many historic structures, some of which are on the National Register of Historic Places such as the Floyd County Courthouse, the Dr. Robert Battey House, Sullivan-Hillyer House and the Rome Clock Tower. The 104-ft. tall Rome Clock Tower was built in 1871and it is renowned for its accuracy. Visitors can walk up the spiral staircase of the tower and enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of the entire city. The Rome Area History Museum on Broad Street is an interesting place to visit where people can learn about the history of Rome by viewing original maps, photos, books and manuscripts from the 19th century. Another interesting museum is The Chieftains Museum at 501 Riverside Parkway Northeast, which showcases many authentic Native American Indian artifacts. Originally built as a log cabin in 1794, the Chieftains Museum is the oldest building in Rome and it is an official part of the National Parks Service Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
The City of Rome sponsors many cultural festivals for public enjoyment. During the month of May, the Mayfest celebration officially commemorates Rome’s economic, cultural and geographic importance with riverboat rides, live music concerts, the famous Ducky Derby, a corrugated boat race and a food festival. On Labor Day weekend, the Running Water Pow Wow commemorates Native American Indian history and cultural traditions with teepee competitions, exhibition dancing and many other activities. For over 60 years, the City of Rome has been hosting the annual Coosa Valley Fair. During October, the Coosa Valley Fair features livestock exhibits, homemaking arts and crafts, horticulture, agriculture, arts and photography exhibits.