Just as knowledge and past events are recorded in stone, mortar and wood, this prominent two-story bulding is rich in history. No other building in the area is as well documented as The Seminary, the Auto Rest Hotel and the Malone Home.
Built in 1883, The Seminary stands at the junction of Main Street, Parkway Drive and Max Cleland Boulevard and is listed on both the Georgia and National Historical Registers. Constructed of local granite and heart pine, 6886 Main Street still has the look of yesteryear. There are 19 rooms in all—eight on the ground level and eleven upstairs. Most of the eight fireplaces are still intact.
Walking through the halls it is easy to vizualize oil lamps, old clocks, tables games and bed warmers. The character of the floors, doors and vintage trim translate in to images of the lifestyle of those who inhabited the building throughout its 126 years.
Among the students attending The Seminary was Tom Stewart, who earned his tuition as the building's custodian. Later the young man attended college and medical school and went on to practice medicine in Lithonia. He later earned the recognition as Georgia's Country Doctor of the Year.
Dr. Thomas Stewart was a kind hearted and benevolent man. He was both revered and beloved in Lithonia and the surrounding area as he traveled from home-to-home, treating his patients. The city's amphitheater is named in his honor.
In 1906 as public schools became widespread, The Seminary closed and the building was reinvented as the Auto Rest Hotel. The new owner, John Keay Davidson, Sr., operated the hotel to house quarrymen and stonecutters from abroad. The halls and porches were a melting pot of Swedes, Italians and Scotsmen. To a man, they were a bawdy and colorful group–rough and ready.
From the hotel's upper porch, guests could overlook the town, observe those trading in the general merchandise center, catch a glimpse courting couples strolling and enjoy great seats for the frequent scrappy street brawls.
The Auto Rest Hotel continued operation until 1917 when Mr. J. H. Malone purchased the property. He made the building his home. This role continued as Malone's daughter Jennie Ruth and her husband James E. Edwards took up residence.
In 2007, I purchased the well worn structure. Though neglected, the sturdy stone and timbers had stood well against time. I renovated the building in the manner of a historical restoration, taking care to preserve the authenticity and character that cannot be replaced or recreated. The only changes made have been the necessary code updates to facilitate the property's new function as professional office space.
– Ellen Stewart