Swan House - The Third Floor

In this house, the "downstairs" is upstairs. The third floor contained living quarters and workspace for the domestic service staff as well as storage for the family's clothes, silver, porcelain, textiles, and many other belongings.

By Atlanta History Center

The Back Stairs

Beyond the large private hallway, a door leads to the back stairs. Below are the butler's pantry, kitchen, and housewares storage.

The stairs led above to domestic staff work areas, living quarters, and long-term household storage. 
 
To protect the treads of the grand staircase, Mrs. Inman had some family members – especially the children – use the back stairs between the first and second floors.
 
In a segregated household, the stairs leading above were the domain of the primarily Black domestic staff. 

Though the children often played in the attic when young, most adult whites rarely visited the third floor except to supervise and inspect. 

Working on the Hot Third Floor

Arriving on the third floor - with little ventilation offered - two rooms were dedicated specifically for domestic service staff use. 

The smaller was a workroom for sewing, ironing, and other chores.  

The Live-in Maid

While most domestic staff were live-out workers and lived in their own homes in other locations in Atlanta (the city was segregated), the larger third-floor room was primarily for a live-in maid. 

The Inmans usually required one live-in maid to attend to duties overnight, principally to serve family needs. 

Meeting the Family Needs

The Inmans employed from 4 to 7 servants, depending on family needs.
 
While Mr. Inman was living in the house, they employed more staff, since they were required to maintain the house and family for the entertaining and work schedule of two prominent Atlanta individuals.
  
After her husband’s death, Emily Inman downsized the staff for budgetary reasons and the changing dynamic of the house.

On Call

Besides sleeping accommodations, the room contains a storage closet and – importantly – the annunciator call-board to respond to those family needs. 

The small arrow moves to indicate in which room a call button has been pushed requiring needed service.    

For light and ventilation, there are two windows, including the large oculus at the top of Swan House’s Garden Façade.

Additional Staff Quarters

In addition to these third-floor rooms, the nearby six-car garage included three bedrooms that provided additional quarters for male staff members, such as the chauffeur, butler, or yardmen.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Atlanta: Bold and Beautiful
From hip-hop to fine art, street art to high fashion
View theme
Google apps