When we moved from LA to Roswell, Georgia, our friends made jokes about hillbillies and aliens. They had the wrong Roswell of course: the only aliens in our Roswell are folks from other countries, like the Frenchman who started a gourmet market with his American wife; and as for hillbillies, they are further in the hills than this Atlanta suburb.
Roswell may not be our be-all end-all, but it has been a nice place to live. The main drag, Canton Street, is about one mile of franchise-free space. It has a unique walkable atmosphere with old houses and brick buildings made into restaurants, bars, art galleries and such. (Alex has some of her fine art photography in Roswell Provisions, the French market. You can see some of her photos here.)
On Canton Street there are always people walking from place to place, or lounging at outdoor tables. There’s an open-carry law, and not the gun kind, that lets you take your drinks with you as you stroll around. The area has even become a draw for the younger, hipper, city crowd. I met a girl in her early twenties at a business meeting who lived in the always desirable Buckhead. When I told her I lived in Roswell, I thought she’d say “that’s nice,” but instead replied, “oh, that’s so cool. We take Ubers up there all the time!”
We’ve found some hidden gems in the area as well. There’s an old mill that harnessed the power of an offshoot of the Chattahoochee river more than 150 years ago. The mill area has a covered bridge, trails and historic markers that lead to a dam. The dam creates a man-made waterfall. In summer kids swim under and even underneath the falling water. So far, the mill area hasn’t been lawyerized with protective fences and redundant signage, or monetized with parking and entrance fees.
There are examples of antebellum architecture in the handful of columned old founder’s homes that somehow survived Sherman’s fiery path. Bulloch Hall sits on probably the highest point in Roswell with a wide wraparound porch and sprawling grounds. Roosevelt’s mother lived here as a young girl. It’s a good place to have a picnic under the shade of its giant oak trees, or sit on a rocking chair on the porch and imagine you’re Rhett and Scarlett.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all old south antebellum either. Alex wouldn’t have moved here if there wasn’t easy access to a Costco, Trader Joe’s, Michael’s, or Jo-Ann’s. Places I’m sure Rhett would say he didn’t give a damn about, and then find himself following Scarlett around looking for fabric she could fasten into her next gown…just as long as he was able to have a mint julep on the porch when they got home.
We’ve found that Roswell has something for all the Rhett’s and Scarlett’s, LA expats, and even aliens and hillbillies.