The two-story, square columned house was built by the Newton House family between 1850-1852. Kennesaw Avenue, on which the MARIETTA EDUCATIONAL GARDEN CENTER is located, was once a Cherokee Indian Trail. The Garden Center sits at the foot of Kennesaw Mountain, around and on top of which the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain raged for the month of June 1864, during the War Between the States. The Southern leader was General Joseph E. Johnston. It is reported in some books that “Old Joe” Johnston headquartered for a short time in the house.
The second owner of the home named the homestead, “Fair Oaks” because of the two oak trees flanking the front steps. At the time the property was deeded to the Marietta Council of Garden Clubs in 1966, a Civil War cannon ball was visible, embedded in one of the oak trees. Sadly, the trees died and while they were being cleared away, the cannon ball was lost.
The last owners of the home were Clara and Howard Benson, together with their sons, Dr. Earl and Dr. W.H. Benson. The Bensons resided in the home from 1919-1962. On November 4, 1966, the home and 3.5 acres were deeded to the Marietta Council of Garden Clubs, Inc. by the Bensons to be used as a Garden Center.
In converting the property for use as a Garden Center, changes and modernization were necessary, but the overall appearance of the structure was maintained except for the spiral staircase (required as a fire escape) which extends from the front porch through the “Widow’s Walk” to the second floor. Since 1969 when restoration was completed and the Garden Center was opened for garden club and community activities, it has become a vital part of the Marietta-Cobb community. With the rapid growth of this area, there has been an increased demand for civic, educational and cultural events and it became necessary to expand the facilities. This expansion included a larger meeting area; improved kitchen, service and storage space; an office; added restrooms and facilities for the handicapped. Every effort has been made to preserve the original architectural style of the house. The MARIETTA EDUCATIONAL GARDEN CENTER, Inc. is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. It has received numerous local, state and national awards.