May 9, 2023

Latimer Hall History, as of January, 2023

The Latimer Hall story begins with a look at the City of Woodstock in the early 1960s. As the southernmost municipality in Cherokee County, its population was increasing as Atlanta crept closer and closer. One aspect of the growth was the need for better communication systems. There were five separate and independent telephone companies in Cherokee County, the largest being General Telephone. It was time for Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company to expand its boundaries into Woodstock by constructing a building to house their modern equipment as technology changed. Woodstock became a part of the Metropolitan Atlanta Exchange, and dial phones became the norm. Residents could call toll-free all numbers in the exchange, but to call Canton was a long-distance call. Eventually, that would change. The phone company chose a location on what was then called Church Street, a narrow little street which had served for decades as the roadway leading off Main Street to parking lots for the Methodist and Baptist churches. A short distance westward, it merged with Mill Street. Today, it is Towne Lake Parkway.

The property had been the site of the Claude Chandler family home until the home was destroyed by fire sometime before 1918. To the west, just feet away, was the Woodstock Methodist Church which began holding services in 1889. Its neighbor on the east was a brick cotton warehouse, one of six such warehouses dating to Woodstock’s thriving cotton industry of the early decades of the 20th century. Various businesses have occupied the warehouse in modern times. It holds the distinction of being the only surviving such warehouse in Woodstock.

In 1982 the City of Woodstock moved its offices from the Woodstock Depot and purchased the building at 103 Church Street from Southern Bell. Its offices included the police department, and there was a holding cell for prisoners on the lower level. Residents could pay their water bills and tax bills there, and all elections were held there. It would be used as City Hall until 1997 when offices were moved to the new Municipal Complex at, ironically, 103 Arnold Mill Road. The new city hall location was not far away, and was on the same street, just eastward from Main Street and the railroad tracks. Old maps show the street we call Arnold Mill was once known as East Church Street. Church Street is no longer on any map. It is now Towne Lake Parkway, and it comes and goes to Towne Lake.

When the Methodist Church purchased the property from the City of Woodstock, they named it Latimer Hall in honor of the Latimer family whose members had been an integral part of the congregation throughout its history.


This family originated in South Carolina with the birth of Pierce Butler Latimer, Sr. in August of 1847, in or near Abbeville, South Carolina. Newspaper accounts at the time of his death in 1934 state his birthplace as Woodstock, Georgia, but all available census records show his birthplace as Abbeville. The name “Pierce Butler” was a prominent name in South Carolina. This Mr. Butler was said to be one of the largest slave owners in the country. He was also listed as one of America’s wealthiest men at the time. He had many descendants and relatives who share his name, and apparently many admirers among the populace, both actual and fictious, such as Rhett Butler! We can only assume that our Pierce Butler Latimer was named for him.

Pierce Latimer served in the Confederate Army in South Carolina, and in 1924 made application for a Confederate Soldiers and Widows pension. It should be noted here that his marriage to Martha Evans was in 1869 after the War and after his move with his family to Woodstock in 1865. Some records indicate that his father was the first “Harry Latimer,” Dr. Harrison Hiram Latimer, born around 1814 in South Carolina. His wife was Mary Elvira McGee. Having moved his family to Woodstock after the War, the doctor is listed in the 1870 census in Woodstock, and in the 1890 Tax Digest as a Woodstock physician whose real estate was valued at $200 and personal property at $300.

For a number of years, Pierce Latimer was engaged in the mercantile business in Woodstock. According to his obituary in the March 23, 1934, issue of The Cherokee Advance, he later represented Cherokee County in the House of Representatives where he was an outstanding member of the General Assembly. Later he was elected to the State Senate where he served with distinction. He was a staunch Methodist and served in various leadership positions at Woodstock Methodist Church. It is generally believed that he was the original owner of the house which is now the Woodstock Funeral Home, just across the street from what we still call the Harry Latimer House. (Various businesses have occupied the Harry Latimer house in recent years, including attorney offices and retail sales.) Census records from 1900 show a total of 14 people (three generations) in the Latimer household (exact location undetermined) and Pierce Latimer as the head of household. By the 1910 census, Martha and Pierce were alone in Woodstock, address not given. Although the funeral home house dates to 1919, in 1920, Pierce and Martha were living in Marietta with their son Pierce Jr. and his family. By 1930, it was, again, just the two of them.

At some point, their daughter (also named Martha) and her husband, Emmett Carpenter, had acquired the funeral home house. Their son, Lewis Carpenter, was probably born there. He was an ace knuckleball pitcher with the Atlanta Crackers in the 1940s. As the story goes, “Lew” held down a job at Bell Bomber Plant in Marietta. (It would later become Lockheed.) The job was said to be classified as “critical,” thus making it possible for him to work and play ball as well. They say he would work all day, then hitch a ride to the ball park on Ponce de Leon Avenue, and then hitch a ride home.

Another son of Pierce and Martha was Will Latimer. He was the owner of the town’s main livery stable for a time. Think Hertz Rent-a-Car in today’s world. The early location of this business was the northwest corner of Main and Church Streets where the city’s first bank would be built during the first decade of the 20th century. A hitching post ran along Church Street for many years after the move in 1921 of Will’s livery stable and residence across the street and railroad tracks to the lot occupied in recent decades by Morgan Ace Hardware. The Will Latimer residence was moved a few feet onto Arnold Mill Road for Morgan’s relocation. It has recently been moved, yet again, to a site on Dupree Road where it will become the home of a couple who purchased it and had it moved. Will had a daughter named Sara. She was married to Steve Clay and they had two children. Steve was killed in a plane crash, and Sara remarried. Ironically, Sara was one of many Georgians killed in the tragic Air France plane crash at Orly, France, in 1962. Her husband, Dr. Marion Benson, suffered a stroke when hearing of her death, and died within days.

In 1918 Pierce Latimer, Jr. and his father operated Latimer and Latimer General Store in the building on the northwest corner of Main and Mill Streets. (Woodstock Pharmacy as of this writing, 2023.) There are also many references to Latimer and Dean Company.

Children of Martha Evans Latimer and Pierce Butler Latimer, Sr.

Grace Latimer Dupree

Mary Lou Latimer McCree

Will D. Latimer

Thomas E. Latimer

Harrison “Harry” Latimer

Pierce B. Latimer, Jr.

Martha C. Latimer Carpenter

contributed by Juanita Hughes