Brookhaven’s historic home with character

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, June 11, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — Augusta Walden and her grandson Thomas Walden have opened their home called Belle Rosen at 328 West Cherokee Street to host events. It is the return of the business since COVID shut down operations. 

Belle Rosen was built between 1830 and 1849 and is on the National Register of Historic places. From the outside, it appears to be a simple old home but on the inside it boasts an eclectic collection of antiques and rich culture. 

It was built on the former Whitworth College Campus. During the Civil War, the college served as a hospital and the home was a residence for hospital workers. Augusta said it survived Grierson’s Raid on Brookhaven during the civil war. 

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In 1901, it became the home of Willie McGrath. It was the “President’s House,” in 1925 for Whitworth College. A second story was added to the home in 1930. 

The front doors appear to be stained glass but they are solid leaded crystal imported from Italy in 1903. It was all Augusta had to see to be interested in the home. She looked at it three separate times over the course of 25 years before buying the home. 

“Betsy Smith said ‘if you are ever going to buy this house now is the time.’  It worked out and I bought it,” Augusta said. “I fell in love with the doors. At night, my friend and I would drive by. We would park out front and look through the doors. It was beautiful, the lights in the crystal. I said if they ever tear down the house I would buy the doors. I had to buy the house to get the doors.”

Her love for old homes is great. Before she moved to Belle Rosen in 1997, she lived in an old home on Pine Drive. She loved Belle Rosen even more. Thomas said he can recall how much she loves old homes. 

“I remember as a kid she moved here when I was 8. In my early childhood, she would drive around and look at the big old house and talk about the details in them,” Thomas said. “My perception is this was all she ever wanted and filled it up with all the stuff she likes. It has been that simple and straightforward.”

In the details

Stained glass windows on the stair landing and guest bathroom attached to the Bridal suite are attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany. The bathroom in the bridal suite is a vibrant Chakra purple. 

Augusta used Greek motifs such as garlands and urns in decorating the home. 

Columns at the entrance to the living and dining room are from Butterfield Mansion. A statue in the foyer was made in Italy in 1910. Ceilings throughout the home are 13 feet and four inches tall. 

The dining room table sits 34 but they can add another table leaf. Thomas said they have seating for 150 people. 

Mirrors spread throughout the home create an optical illusion of bigger rooms. Augusta said she loves mirrors because they do make rooms feel bigger. She added she wanted the mirror in one big piece but it was too big to get through the door. 

Floors in the upstairs rooms and kitchen are heart pine while sunroom flowers are quarter-sawn heart pine. The remaining downstairs floors are oak. If one pays close attention to the floor they might see a Greek key design in the oak hardwood resembling a square knot. 

Outside, a white italianate gazebo and curving old brick sidewalk offer a romantic site for garden weddings. The yard is overlooked by a replica Winged Victory statue. 

“I spent a lot of my childhood exploring. It is so big. It has been my grandmother running it, she gives it most of the character,” Thomas said. “It is all the stuff she picked out and furnished. When she bought it it wasn’t furnished and was in a state of disrepair. More of the character is brought out.” 

His bedroom features a funky paint color called red cabbage. Furniture and fixtures are scattered in style. 

One room is nicknamed the butterfly room due to butterfly decor on the windows. It is colorful. 

Pictures of brides and grooms fill the sunroom. They have become a part of the home’s history and decor now. Augusta said they have been hosts for 600 weddings since 1997. 

Anyone who is interested or a fan of ghosts may find the basement interesting. Augusta said she was skeptical of ghosts until she moved into the home. “They live in the basement,” she said. 

Over the years the home has seen changes and rooms have been repurposed. It is possible the kitchen was once a bedroom. A little library and reading area featuring artwork is tucked away in a back corner. Thomas said one of the paintings is a portrait of his sister and a photo his dad took. 

“It is all about my family experience in the house. We want people to have that family experience,” Thomas said. “We don’t want to change the fundamentals of how it looks. It is part of it.”