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A longtime Gainesville family made their mark in yellow brick
Building our community: A monthly series
This yellow-brick house on Green Street Circle was built in 1921 by the Edmondsons. The home is one of many well-kept homes on the street. - photo by Tom Reed

In 1920, Harmon Lee Edmondson paid $2,500 for a piece of property just outside the old Gainesville city limits. It sat on a hill on a dirt road called Green Street Circle, not far from the new Thompson Bridge Road.

It was on this property that Edmondson, who earned his money in the textile industry, built a stately yellow-brick home with three bedrooms on the second floor, a carport and a deep front porch. He and his wife - known to friends and family as "Big Papa" and "Big Mama" - would sit on the porch in the evenings, like most folks in the neighborhood, and watch their four kids grow up.

Built in 1921, the home has seen fewer than a half dozen owners in its lifetime, and today owners Dan and Chandelle Summer said they love the house so much, they can't see selling it anytime soon, even though they live a few miles away on Riverside Drive.

"When I bought the house I said, this is where I want to live for the rest of my life. I don't want to move again. Dan had to kind of pull me away from it kicking and screaming," Chandelle said. Now the mother of five, she said they started looking for a new home a few years after buying the old Edmondson home in 1990.

They made a few changes, like splitting the large upstairs bathroom into two, installing hardwood floors in the front sitting room and adding some landscaping. And that was in addition to the changes previous owners made, such as a vaulted ceiling in the back of the house and updating the kitchen.

The home has classic brick details across its top, and many of the windows hold their original glass. Although the roof has changed over the years - it used to be Spanish tile - the look of the home hasn't changed much in its near 90-year history.

Neighbors also said the home was painted tan years ago, in keeping with the style of homes in Atlanta. But because the tan was painted onto yellow brick, the resulting color was actually pink. And, until recently, the home had a pink sheen on its bricks.

But it's that wide front porch, Chandelle Summer said, that holds her love for the home.

"I just love that house because the porch in the front is so gracious, and it was so much fun to sit out on the porch and have parties out there."

Longtime Gainesville resident Nell Wiegand, who was born two houses down on Green Street Circle not long after the Edmondson home was built, said she remembers the plants Mrs. Edmondson put on the porch. The porch's pillars are framed by ledges that held buckets of flowers, she recalled.

"Our house had those (full) pillars like that, and it had a front porch. And Mrs. Edmondson, they had two things where the pillars didn't go all the way up, and she always had pretty plants," she said. "But I thought, ‘Well, I wish Mom and Daddy would cut those pillars down and we could have plants.'"

Many residents on Green Street Circle have lived on the tree-lined street for generations. A few houses down from the Edmondsons was the home of Jesse Jewell, and next door to the Jewells was the original parsonage for First Baptist Church.

Wiegand recalled playing with the kids on the street.

"Oh, we played snake in the gully and all that stuff," she said, naming Marion Hosch, the Jewell girls and kids from the Chambers and Browning families.

"Everybody used to sit on the front porch on Sunday afternoons, if they didn't go down to the train station and watch the trains go by," she said. "Isn't that exciting?"

Carole Ann Daniel, whose husband Ed Daniel was the grandson of Big Mama and Big Papa Edmondson, remembers muscadine vines up behind the house and a well-kept home with beautiful furnishings. Other neighbors tell stories of riding horses through the empty land behind the homes.

But the home holds one more secret that longtime neighbors and friends of the Edmondsons recall - but can't quite confirm: A secret door in the home's front study.

"I had heard about that but I didn't know about it," Wiegand said "I heard that mentioned, and what it was used for, I have no idea," Daniel added.

Current resident Ellie Spence knows of a small door connecting the front study and the bedroom behind it, but couldn't confirm any secret door.

The Edmondsons had four children: Sara, the mother of Ed Daniel; Royce, who moved to Charlotte, N.C.; Herbert, a state circuit judge; and Loy, who was an officer in the Army who was killed during World War II. Harmon Edmondson's brother, Charles, started the Georgia Chair Co., which is still in business today, Carole Ann Daniel said.

Along with the well-kept home, Daniel also recalled Harmon Edmondson's other profession: Keeping up with the local news at Citizens Bank, which is now where Bank of America is in downtown Gainesville.

"My husband used to laugh and say his main job ... was leaning up against the wall with all the other men in town, talking about what's going on," she said.

She later added, "Every house on that street was absolutely just a lovely home. All the houses are just very classic looking."