Swan House - Emily Inman and the Morning Room

More than chintz and porcelain, the Morning Room embodies strong women and the beginning of home design as a female profession.

By Atlanta History Center

The Morning Room

The Morning Room – called the Green Room by family – embodies Emily Inman’s personal eclectic taste mixing antiques from different periods and styles with reproductions and contemporary furniture.
 
To the house’s architect, Philip T. Shutze, this resulted from “a close collaboration between architect, owner, and decorator.” The collaboration would have been forceful between three intelligent, strong-willed, and opinionated individuals.
 
The owner, of course, was Emily Inman, who set the stage for building the house and made many design decisions. 

Ruby Ross Wood

The house’s decorator was Ruby Ross Wood, a Georgia native who fled north to New York as a young adult. There, she wrote articles on behalf of Elsie de Wolf, often praised as the inventor of interior design.

Wood also became an important New York interior decorator and ghostwriter of The House in Good Taste, one of the most influential home design books of the 20th century.
 
It is a tribute to Emily Inman to hire Wood, who often worked in New York and Palm Beach circles. 

Swan House remains the only Wood-designed interior open to the public.

An Independent Woman

Strong-willed, independent, and resourceful, Emily Caroline MacDougald was born in Alabama in 1881. 

She moved to Atlanta with her mother, Emily Fitten MacDougald, in 1897.
 
Her mother played a significant role in the women’s suffrage movement as founder and president of the Equal Suffrage Party of Georgia.
 
Emily Inman herself participated in the activities of the Equal Suffrage Party of Georgia and entered her car into Atlanta’s first suffrage parade. 

The Head of the Family

Following her husband’s sudden death in April 1931, Emily Inman invited her eldest son, Hugh, to move into Swan House with his wife, Mildred Cooper.
 
They were joined with their two small children, Samuel Cooper “Sam” and Mildred “Mimi.” 

Sam and Mimi were 4 and 2 years old when they moved in, and they grew up in the house until the late 1940s.

A Self-Made Woman

Emily Inman was concerned about her finances during the Great Depression, to “live the kind of life she wanted to live,” according to her daughter. 

Inman took control of her estate and, on her own, expanded her investment portfolio. 

She believed women needed to be educated in the financial world. She met with stockbrokers, took classes and private lessons, and invested in stocks. 

A family member noted that Mrs. Inman “tended to her own business until the day she died.”

The Woman of the House


Emily Inman lived in Swan House until her death in 1965. 

To preserve the house, the family sold the property and house with many of the original furnishings to Atlanta History Center. 

Swan House opened to the public in 1967 as a house museum and headquarters of Atlanta History Center.

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