The plans by Andrew Firestone to remodel it and again use it as an office building is testimony not only to its high-traffic location but also to the historic neighborhood of which it actually is a part although few know it. Right behind, buffered by a vacant lot and canopy of trees, is one of Rome’s oldest residential neighborhoods: Oakdene. Like Between the Rivers, it is a national historic register location as well.
While still struggling to again be all that it can be (particularly after a fire gutted its landmark bed-and-breakfast) it still holds plenty of charm and potential to go along with a unique history. Oakdene was where Ellen Axson, later this nation’s first lady but then a minister’s daughter, grew up and was courted by future president Woodrow Wilson, then a Rome attorney.
It’s remarkable how few of today’s Romans know this and certainly no visitors to the community would likely learn of it unless someone local takes them by the hand and leads them there. Which, by the way, is true of a lot of other places around town where contributions to the history books were made.
And, in Mrs. Wilson case, visitors would most likely be taken to see her grave up on Myrtle Hill rather than Oakdene, much of which looks just like when she was there.
Perhaps, as part of bringing this corner lot back to life there could be some signage included that can be seen by the thousands of cars streaming past the corner daily to tell them what lies just out of sight behind it.