My post-Civil War American History class has been studying the turn of the century in America. I have been talking with them about the industrialization of the nation, the plight of farmers in the South, and the differences in lifestyles of the rich, poor, and middle class. As part of that discussion, I took my class to the Green Manor, which is now a restaurant located in Union City. The Green Manor was once a fruitful post Civil War cotton farm and the families who lived there were wealthy. I wanted them to see how these people lived and to give them a first hand look at some neat local history. What I did not expect was that the Green Manor has a haunted past.
The Green Manor was the property of the Westbrook family. In fact, W.R. Westbrook and his wife, Elizabeth, gave the home and thirty acres to Cora Westbrook, the tenth of their eleven children, and her husband, Drewry Carmichael as a wedding gift in 1889. The Carmichaels were productive, as Drewry and his brother built a factory for farm equipment in nearby Fairburn, and even helped secure the area as the Georgia headquarters of the Farmers Union. The city of Union City was founded as a result of this in 1908.
After telling my class about the history of the home and the area, as well as how the turn of the century looked in what is now Fulton County, the manager began to talk about some of the popular legends about Green Manor. I can tell you, they are very interesting.
As it goes, Mrs. Westbrook (Cora) had an unwed sister, which back in the day were called either old maids or spinsters. Her name was Florence Westbrook. She moved in with the Carmichaels and lived on the second floor of the mansion. At that time, which was before the first world war, the place was a working cotton plantation. One day as the Carmichael's had their laborers burning the cotton fields and plowing it under to help make pot ash, Florence decided to take buckets of water out to the field hands, as she noticed that they were working pretty hard and were more than likely very thirsty. As she walked near the fields, her long dress caught fire and she burned to death in front of the house on what is now Westbrook Street. She was buried in a grave in the Shadnor Baptist Church Cemetery, which is right down the street from the Green Manor.
According to the manager of the Green Manor, Florence Westbrook might not have wanted to leave her sister and their mansion so soon. In 1996, the burglar alarm went off in the middle of the night at the Green Manor, which by that time had been a restaurant for almost six years. A local police officer answered the call. When he arrived, he walked all the way around the mansion and saw nothing. Having this feeling of urgency to look up, he did and saw the figure of a woman standing on the second floor of the house. He tried to call for back up thinking that someone was inside burglarizing the facility. However, his radio would not work, and all that the dispatcher could hear when he tried to call in was static. However, the dispatcher knew that the officer had gone to the Green Manor to check things out. Feeling uneasy, she (dispatcher) decided to send an officer to see what was going on. When the second officer arrived, he saw the image of the woman too, but like his fellow officer, his radio would not work when he tried to call in the report. Yet a third officer was sent to the location, this time an off-duty one who just happened to be in the area. He was also carrying his radio, but found that it would not work either. The manager also mentioned the name of the officer, but I will not give it here since I do not have permission. She went on to say that any time someone mentions the Green Manor to him, he turns white like a ghost.
Other stories about Florence abound at the Green Manor. A local journalist in Fulton County, and I will not mention his name either because I have not sought permission, has a fondness for the Green Manor and writes about it a great deal in the local paper. One night, he had been down in Palmetto covering a very controversial city council meeting. The meeting ended late, and when he drove back in to town, he passed the Green Manor. The next day, he called the manager and asked her what they had done to upset Ms. Florence, for when he passed by he saw her furiously pacing the front porch. The manager commented that the only thing she could think of was that they had put up new drapes in the room that was once the bedroom of Florence Westbrook. On another occasion, the sister-in-law of Dr. Green, the man for whom the mansion is now named and who purchased it in 1917, came to the restaurant, and upon entering the front door, she saw the figure of a woman coming down the stairs and immediately exclaimed, "My God, that is Florence Westbrook."
The manager and staff of the restaurant say that things are always moved and noone can account for how and when they were moved. The staff reports hearing water faucets come on in the basement a lot, but upon investigation, no water is running. One night, the manager herself was called to the scene due to the burglar alarm going off, and upon entering, the first thing she saw was a hat from the hat room (the name of one of the dining rooms in the restaurant) at the bottom of the stairs. Such a thing would have been noticed and immediately corrected by the staff at closing. It was not there when the restaurant closed. The police officer who came with her was quite disturbed to see this.
My students were amazed by the Green Manor. They enjoyed the tour and the ghost stories. The food there is absolutely amazing. The wait staff is great! But are there ghosts in the Green Manor? Who knows? Perhaps Ms. Florence Westbrook might stop by your table and say hello. Check out their website at www.greenmanor.biz and take a look at the pictures of the place. It is beautiful.