Rome was founded in 1834. The founders held a drawing to determine the name of the new city, with Col. Mitchell submitting the name of Rome because of the area’s hills and rivers Mitchell’s submission was drawn, and the Georgia Legislature chartered Rome as an official city in 1835. The County Seat was moved from the village of Livingston to Rome.
The city was developed on seven hills with the rivers running between them, some of the hills have been partially graded since Rome was founded. The City developed as a market and trading city due to its advantageous location on the rivers, by which it sent the rich regional cotton commodity crop downriver to markets on the Gulf Coast and export overseas.
In the late 1920s a United States company built a rayon plant in a joint project with an Italian company. The project and Rome, Georgia was honored by Italy in 1929, when its dictator Benito Mussolini sent a replica of the statue of Romulus and Remus nursing from a mother wolf, a symbol of the founding myth of the original Rome. (see picture below)
Today, the city has 5 blocks of buildings with trees down the center. The buildings and the architecture is impressive. With Cafes/Restaurants, shops, bakeries and a theater the city is building lofts.
Desoto Theater – 530 Broad Street. In early 1928 O. C. Lam, the owner of Lam Amusement Company, laid plans to construct a new movie theatre in downtown Rome, Georgia. Lam wanted to build a luxurious theater modeled after New York’s Roxy. Designed as a “talkie” theater, it the first venue in the South to be designed and built for sound pictures. Lam named his new movie palace for Hernando DeSoto. In 1982 the theater closed, but soon reopened as a venue for a amateur theater group.
Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home – The plaque in front of the museum says: At this house’s core is the 1790s log home of Major Ridge (c. 1771-1839), a leader in the Cherokee Nation. His 223-acre plantation supported numerous outbuildings, orchards and slaves while the family served as ferryboat operators and merchants. It was here the council negotiated the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, which promised the Cherokees land compensation for voluntarily moving to Oklahoma. Their forced removal became known as the “Trail of Tears.” Ridge knew death was imminent for selling tribal lands but believed the treaty to be the only means to save his people. He, his son, and nephew were murdered in 1839. 501 Riverside Parkway (see below)
Martha Berry Museum – plaque at the museum says: This cabin, birthplace of The Berry Schools, (now Berry College and Berry Academy) was built as a playhouse for Martha Berry and her brothers and sisters shortly after the Civil War. Here, in the late 1800’s, three small boys from Lavendar Mountain received Martha Berry’s first Sunday School lesson. Word of her kindness and interest spread and soon the cabin was overflowing with people. In the evolution from this modest beginning to a day school at Possum Trot, a boarding school and finally a college, the Cabin was outgrown but not forgotten. Martha Berry chose the Cabin to represent simplicity on the school seal, along with the Bible for religion, the lamp for learning and the plow for work. On this foundation she built a world renowned educational institution extensively copied in the U.S. and abroad. 25 Veterans Memorial Hwy.
Myrtle Hill Cemetery – the cemetery has become the permanent home of more than 20,000 since 1857. Myrtle Hill Cemetery is located on one of Rome’s seven hills and is situated on six terraces. Out of reach of flooding, the cemetery provides dramatic and beautiful views. Myrtle Hill Cemetery has over 35 different species of trees. Many trees are rare and many are not native to Northwest Georgia. There is a mobile app available.
Fosters Mill Store – The original Fosters Mill store was constructed in the 1840s on the south side of Cedar Creek. It was moved to its present location sometime around 1900. Fire gutted the building in 1999. It was rebuilt and then ravaged when a tractor-trailer left the highway and slammed into the building in 2001. The store sells sandwiches, drinks, snacks and bait. 5536 Blacks Bluff Rd.