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Story Behind Sidney Lanier Monument

In 1866, Sue Harper, a 23-year-old from Brandon, Mississippi with a “shell-like complexion and violet eyes” met Civil War Veteran Livingston Mims from Jackson, Mississippi. They fell in love and were soon married.

The couple moved to Savannah, Georgia in 1876. After visiting Atlanta, Mrs. Mims fell in love with the city and persuaded her husband to move his business, the Southern Department of the New York Life Insurance Company, to Atlanta.  In 1879, the couple moved into their Queen Anne-style house at the corner of Peachtree Street and Ponce DeLeon Avenue.

Guests to their house, named “Heartsease”, included President Grover Cleveland (twice), President William McKinley and Jefferson Davis.

In 1901, Major Livingston Mims became Mayor of the City of Atlanta.

Mrs. Mims’ love of literature guided her to start the first Shakespeare Club in Atlanta, as well as the Browning Society. She also became the first president of the Home for the Friendless which aided deserted children.

Upon her death, Sue Harper Mims bequeathed money obtained from the sale of her jewels be used to erect a monument to Sidney Lanier in Piedmont Park.

Sidney Lanier, a friend of the Mims and frequent visitor to their home, was considered one of America’s greatest poets whose poems expressed the social concerns of that day. His more famous works are “The Song of The Chattahoochee” and “The Marshes of Glynn.”

Author: Patrick Teague, Piedmont Park Conservancy Docent


Cover Photo Credit: Marcia Brandes