These cast iron figures placed in front of a fire place inside the Parish House on Main Street in Conyers and are part of a collection of furnishings from Irene Irwin's family. The room and others will be on display for a Designer Showcase on Friday, Dec. 9, to raise funds to restore the 117-year-old house. Staff Photo: Jay Jones.
This undated photo of the Parish House at Conyers United Methodist Church shows Judge J.R. Irwin, left, standing on an unpaved North Main Street in front of the house with his daughter and longtime house resident Irene Irwin. The two boys with Irene Irwin are former judge Clarence Vaughn (in overalls) and his younger brother, Guinn Vaughn. Special Photo.
The overhead fixture in the foyer and stained glass greet visitors to the Parish House on Main Street. Photo: Jay Jones.
CONYERS -- Members of First United Methodist Church in Conyers are hoping a trip down memory lane next month at the Parish House on Main Street will bring history to life at a local landmark.
The church will host a Designer Showcase at the house from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, where a room inside the 1884 house will be decorated for the holidays by local businesses and designers.
The event is described as a "Candlelight Tour" and will include the historic narthex and sanctuary at the Methodist Church. The evening also includes a gift shop, tea room and door prizes.
Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the door or at the Conyers Welcome Center. All proceeds will be used to commission a study of the house to begin restoration.
One room inside the house is already decorated with furnishings belonging to Irene Irwin, who lived in the house the longest with her brothers until her death in 1969. Sigman Mills, Sadie's Antiques, Fabrics & Furnishings, Something Old, Something New and Ramsey Furniture will each decorate a room.
Harriett Gaddis, tourism manager at the Conyers Convention and Tourism Bureau, is assisting the church committee with the Designer Showcase and explained the impact of Irwin, better known as "Miss Irene," and who lived there at 927 Main St. her whole life. The house was deeded to her from her father, former Judge J.R. Irwin, in 1933.
Irwin was an educator and worked to improve residents' lives through reading and the arts. Irwin's will left her estate to the Conyers Civic League with the stipulation that it be used solely to expand Nancy Guinn Memorial Library and support the arts in Conyers and Rockdale County.
The house was sold to Conyers UMC and was used for a parsonage.
"It's an ambitious project and exciting to bring back some of the prominence and, actually, the vision of Miss Irene," Gaddis said. "To me, it's very important for people to know a little bit more about her and sharing a little of who she was and bring them into the house because we all, as Rockdale citizens, have benefited from her legacy that she left."
Georgia Rosser, whose family is the namesake of Rosser Street, moved into the house when it was built on what was then known as Decatur Street. The house includes 15-foot ceilings, fireplaces in each room, and the original trunk doors separating a set of rooms.
Once restored, the house could be used by the community for funeral and wedding receptions or as a gathering place for civic groups and special occasions.
Debbie Golden, Conyers UMC director of evangelism and church membership, said the church is also looking to use the house as a home for the Care and Counseling Center of Georgia, which currently operates inside the church building.
Golden explained the Parish House offers an opportunity to expand counseling services at the church.
"We already have their presence, but to be really good and treat the clients well, this will make a terrific place," she said.
Golden added that a lay counseling ministry under consideration could also use the house.
For more information, call Conyers UMC at 770-483-4326 or the Conyers Welcome Center at 770-602-2606.