Driving south on U.S. Highway 78, Stone Mountain looks a stone’s-throwing distance — but the monolith is actually five miles away.
One mile down Stone Drive is a street called Kinnett Drive, named after the family who sold the plot of land for residential development decades ago. Kinnett Drive is a few hundred paces from Jim and Betty Kinnett’s home, where the two have lived since 1977.
The home on 2600 Stone Drive has existed for more than twice as long as they’ve lived in it. For the next few months, though, the Kinnetts will be saying their goodbyes.
After more than four decades in the home, the Kinnetts have put it up for sale. The family possess a property abstract that shows the home’s original owner bought 50 acres of land near the house in 1882 for $950. The Kinnetts’ home is now for sale for $629,000.
“I never dreamed we would ever move,” Betty Kinnett said. “I thought we’d always be here.”
Their first and only home
Besides a mix of homes built in the ’70s and ’80s, 2600 Stone Drive stands out.
Perhaps it’s the cedar shake roof or the chimney that’s stood in the same place for at least 150 years. Looking at the Kinnett’s home, you would guess it’s stood in town longer than anything but Stone Mountain itself.
In reality, there’s not much on the outside of the home that’s from the original house that is estimated to have been built in the 1870s. The roof has been replaced a few times and the brick and mortar outside was added onto the home. That modification, Betty Kinnett laments, kept the home from being added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Jim Kinnett inherited the home, which his family had owned with about 136 acres of property surrounding it, in 1976 when he and Betty were in their early 20s. The home was bought by Jim Kinnett’s maternal great-grandfather in 1932 and the deed was passed through wills. Jim and Betty Kinnett had been living in an apartment attached to his parents’ house since they married in 1969, and they were eager to own their own home.
When Jim Kinnett inherited the property, they decided it was the one. It was, however, in need of some work. The house was liveable — the family rented it out for $25 per month before the Kinnetts moved in — but the Kinnetts wanted the home to last.
In a 1979 edition of The Home Weekly, Jim Kinnett said, “At first, our main reason for fixing up the old house was to save money, but after we got started, the challenge of making the house what we wanted it to be took over.”
A house with history
The original home on 2600 Stone Drive was approximately 2,000 square feet. The Kinnetts said it was built by Elliot P. Minor between 1858 and 1864. He’s the one who later bought the surrounding lots, which he sold to Jim Kinnett’s grandfather.
The original house contained about nine rooms: a parlor, sitting room, foyer, three bedrooms on the main floor, two bedrooms upstairs, four fireplaces and a separate kitchen. There are three porches, two of which are now inside an addition the Kinnetts built about 10 years after restoring the home.
The parlor in the front of the house was also known as a “courtin’ room.” The original fireplace and chimney in that room and the sitting room are still intact. The sitting room still has the original wood shiplap from the 19th century.
Upstairs, the pine floors from the original home are still there. They’re sturdy and don’t squeak, but years of wear have made them concave in the middle.
For fire prevention reasons, the kitchen of the original house was separated in the back. The kitchen walls were more than two feet thick of stone and covered by a metal roof. The Kinnetts enclosed the original back porch to create a hallway to the kitchen.
Jim and Betty Kinnett were in their early to mid 20s while working on the house. Neither had any experience remodeling a home, but they were both fearless.
“We just did it, we had some help but we did a lot of that ourselves,” Betty Kinnett said.
After stripping the walls, the Kinnetts discovered the frame of the house was still in sturdy shape. They started work on the home in 1976 and moved in for good in 1977.
The two have lived there ever since.
Making it their own
As the years have gone on, Betty Kinnett said she and Jim considered future additions, while trying to make them match the original home. In all, they added an additional 2,600 square feet. The Kinnetts made one of the side porches a walk-in closet and turned an old laundry room into a pantry.
It doesn’t take historic records to know the heated saltwater pool and gazebo weren’t part of the original house. The Kinnetts screened in that area in 2002. They also had personal tennis courts but later removed them because of the cost to maintain the surface.
Leaving the home, taking the memories
Betty Kinnett said four years ago, she never thought she and her husband would move. At one time, both Jim and Betty Kinnett’s parents lived in homes on either side of 2600 Stone Drive. Jim’s mother, a direct descendant of J.A. Dshong who bought the home in 1932, died in 2012, and Betty’s father died in 2014.
“When all that happened we got to thinking, ‘What do we do?’” Betty Kinnett said.
Between the Kinnetts’ three sons, they have nine grandchildren. Ultimately, Betty Kinnett said she and her husband want to move closer to their sons and three grandchildren, who live in Jefferson. Closer is a house on Lake Hartwell, which is expected to be complete in four to five months.
Betty Kinnett said friends have asked her how she’ll feel when the house is sold. She tells them she won’t know until it happens. They both will miss living in the one and only home they’ve ever owned together, but they hope their memories and family history will live on forever.
“I hope they enjoy the oldness of it,” Betty Kinnett said. “It’s a true, old farmhouse.”