Past Tense

The name of Chamberlin-Johnson-DuBose may not be a familiar one, but this is the name of one of the early dry goods stores of downtown Atlanta.

It opened in 1866 as Chamberlin and Boynton, one year before M. Rich and Co., which would later be known as Rich’s. Ten years later, Chamberlin, Boynton & Company would be the leader of the large stores. Three departments were set up: dry goods, carpets, and boots and shoes. This was the early version of the department store.

The name of Chamberlin-Johnson-DuBose was adopted in 1896. Edwin DuBose had been a partner of the company for several years, moving to Atlanta from Washington, Georgia.

Dunwoody was the location of several summer homes in the 1920s and 1930s and the Edwin DuBose property was one of them. In 1917, Edwin DuBose purchased land from Dr. Nay Strickland. This was land Strickland bought from the Duke family. DuBose acquired 58.47 acres in land lot 376 for $3,630. The DuBose home and farm were in the triangle where Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Roberts Drive come together and where the Fairfield neighborhood is located today. DuBose named his farm Ellaslea.

Edwin DuBose’s wife, Martha Ella Inman DuBose died two years before he bought the Dunwoody farm. Her father was Shadrach Inman and her brothers were Hugh and Samuel Inman, who made their fortunes investing in Atlanta railroads, streetcars, banks, and real estate. Later they became involved in politics and philanthropies. Samuel Inman was a major donor to the campaign to rebuild Oglethorpe University on Peachtree Road, giving $50,000.

The DuBose family raised prized Berkshire hogs at Ellaslea. A 1921 edition of The Atlanta Constitution advertises a barbeque at the DuBose Peachtree Road home, where Berkshire hogs could be purchased. A local Dunwoody man named Jubal Anderson Early Cox managed the DuBose farm, probably living on the property.

According to Franklin Garrett’s, “Atlanta and Environs,” when Chamberlin-Johnson-DuBose made a move to a new modern five-story building 60 paces south on Whitehall Street in 1918, the owners of the other stores in the area downtown wrote a letter of congratulations and well wishes.

The letter states, “The name of Chamberlin-Johnson-DuBose Company is a synonym for courtesy, efficiency, service and public-spiritedness. The community is to be congratulated in having such a fine establishment in its midst.” The businesses that signed the letter were J. M. High Co., M. Rich & Bros. Co., Keely Co., J. Froshin, J. Regenstein, J. P Allen Co., and Davison-Paxon-Stokes Co.

In 1927, Chamberlin-Johnson-DuBose was listed as one of the top importers in Atlanta, along with Davison-Paxon Company and M. Rich Brothers. Samuel Dubose made the news in 1928 when he placed the first long distance phone call between Atlanta and Paris, calling the company’s Paris representative Roditi and Sons.

Davison’s, J. P. Allen, Regenstein’s and Froshin’s moved to Peachtree Road and Rich’s moved to Broad and Alabama Street by the time The Great Depression hit. However, Chamberlin-Johnson-DuBose, having built that new store on Whitehall Street in 1918, was not able to survive and closed its doors in 1931.

A Dunwoody Crier reader wrote me several years ago saying she remembered an old run-down home in that triangle when she first moved here in 1970. There was a wrought iron sign out front of the home and the name on the sign was Ellaslea.

Other sources cited include: Rich’s: A Southern Institution, by Jeff Clemmons.

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