MOUNT AIRY - Years ago, Tim Williams took Harriett to Lake Russell - the scenic lake in Mount Airy that he considered a beautiful spot - to ask for her hand in marriage.
Fifteen years later, the Gainesville natives live right across the street from the lake in The Seventh Heaven House.
It took a special 19th century-style Georgian home once called Lawton Place - home to politicians, lawyers and even a baseball great - to bring them back to the tiny town.
"We just fell in love with the old house," said Tim, who has owned the home for three years. "We actually came up to entertain ourselves. We knew we couldn't afford the asking price ... and they lowered the price like $100,000."
On Jan. 8, Lawton Place was named to the National Register of Historic Places in Georgia, and on April 25 Tim and Harriett hosted an open house for locals to tour the home as part of Mount Airy's annual All Cities Day celebration.
Tim and Harriett, who also own Green Gables catering and Olive Branch restaurant in Gainesville, rent out the historic home for weddings and special events.
Lawton Place was built about 1880 by Gen. Alexander Robert Lawton, who was appointed general and
later a quartmaster general for the Confederate Army.
"He was a Savannah lawyer and an Atlanta politician," said Sandy Reid, who works for the Williamses. "He was an attorney for one of the railroads and also a president for another railroad, and both of those railroads come up here and did land speculations.
"He bought up land and put a railroad through here and built this town. This house, on this location, this little hill is the highest point between Richmond, Virginia and Atlanta."
During the time the home has stood in Mount Airy, many tenants have come through the front doors.
The house passed through a succession of owners and by 1925, it served as a rental property.
"Our most famous tenant was the legendary Ty Cobb, who lived here in the late 1950s while he was building a home nearby," Reid said. "I've been told that the home he was building was up on Tower Mountain and that he died before it was ever completed, so this may have been the last place he lived. He died in Emory University of cancer in 1961."
During 100 years of different owners and tenants, not much of the home has changed.
The parlor still has the original cornice work and the wood ceilings are original.
"Tim and Harriett did the more artistic finishes on the walls and the black paint (on the trim)," Reid said. "The second floor was falling in ... so students from Georgia Tech helped design a steel beam for the ceiling. They did elaborate calculations and put the steel beam in and every day they would screw it up (to lift it) just a little more, ... and it took them weeks to finally get the beam back up."
According to documents filed with the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, Lawton Place has elements of the Greek revival style in the portico and woodwork surrounding the doors, Gothic revival-style louvered attic vents and stick style trim in the roof's gables.
The home has four bedrooms with stairs ascending through the center of the floor plan to a sitting room at the top. Rooms on the second floor have 12-foot ceilings.
"The dining room is original and was probably always the dining room. ... If you notice, the ceilings are original," said Reid, pointing to wood bead board. "The kitchen was more than likely a separate building, and they would probably take food in and out from here."
The first floor also has a sun room.
"In the winter time they can get out and get the good sun rays," she added.
Along the back of the property sits three original outbuildings, a privy and historic hedges.
"We added the catering kitchen out back," said Tim, who has had 12 weddings at the home. "It's in a little carriage house that was stables years ago, a little single-stall stable, and we converted it into a prep kitchen. That's where I do all the wedding cakes."