House Envy: Historic Roswell home anchors new community off Canton Street

FrontDoor Communities restores a 19th-century homestead at heart of a new development
Goulding 009_Covered Front Porch
Courtesy FrontDoor Communities

Metro Atlanta developers are notorious for their “out with the old, in with the new” mentality, regularly demolishing historic structures to make way for shiny new mixed-use developments. Fortunately, Atlanta-based FrontDoor Communities took a different path after purchasing a 16-acre swath of historic downtown Roswell last May for $6.9 million.

While the site will host a new development of 13 houses and 27 luxury townhomes, the 158-year-old Goulding House at the heart of the property will remain intact as a single-family residence. It will also become the centerpiece of the new community, inspiring the architecture of the homes constructed around it.

FrontDoor CEO Terry Russell, whose company is working with the Historical Preservation Society in Roswell on this project, has stated: “From the time we purchased the Goulding acreage, we knew that we wanted to save this historic home and make it the community focal point. Everything we planned for this community, from the landscaping to the smallest architectural detail, was specifically chosen to complement the historic elements found in this home and on historic homes in the surrounding community.”

The 19th century estate, once known as Colonial Place, was built in 1857 for author, clergyman, inventor, and naturalist Francis Robert Goulding. Goulding invented the sewing machine in 1842 (though his delay in filing a patent application meant he never got credit), discovered organisms unique to Stone Mountain, and wrote a series of children’s adventure stories, including The Young Marooners on the Florida Coast. He also followed in the footsteps of his father, Reverend Thomas Goulding—founder of Columbia Theological Seminary, South Carolina’s Presbyterian seminary which later moved to Decatur, Georgia—by becoming a clergyman. The younger Goulding passed away in 1881 while still living in the house at 109 Goulding Place.

Since then, three families have taken up residence in the historic 7,098-square-foot estate, which is listed on the Georgia Register of Historic Places. Those families have made some changes over the decades. The portico and stately columns were added in 1941, and the house was expanded and modernized in 1984. FrontDoor Communities recently completed a renovation that added modern conveniences while still preserving the integrity of the home’s past.

The restored Goulding House now features an open layout ideal for entertaining, a spacious kitchen with stainless steel appliances, and a two-car garage with carriage doors. The sunny, updated master bathroom features granite counters, an oversized shower, and a stand-alone clawfoot tub. Historical architectural elements that were retained include the wide covered front and back porches with views of the surrounding leafy canopy, pine floors, and original brick fireplaces. Wooden ceilings in the combined kitchen, family room, and dining areas offer warmth and coziness to the large open space. Listed at $1,495,000, the five-bedroom, five-and-a-half bath brick residence also has a separate two-bedroom guesthouse, a wood-paneled library/office, and a sunroom.

The townhouses and single-family homes that will surround Goulding House are currently under construction. When finished, they’ll be priced from the mid-$700s to the high $900s and will range from about 3,200 to 4,000 square feet. The single-family homes will include finished basements, walk-in closets, an optional elevator, and covered rear porches and terraces. All 41 of the residences are within a short walk of the popular restaurants and shops of Canton Street. For more information, visit