Above: Bullochville News is one of the preserved buildings now located behind Bulloch House. Bullochville has since been renamed as Warm Springs. Photos by Mark Dean

A mountain getaway usually means heading to north Georgia, but why not head south instead? Pine Mountain and the historic town of Warm Springs are perfect for a weekend away from the city.

Located about 80 miles south of Atlanta, Pine Mountain is both scenic and activity-filled, whether you’re an outdoor or history enthusiast. There’s also plenty in the way of accommodations, from resorts to campgrounds.

Warm Springs

Dowdells Knob at FD Roosevelt State Park

The town of Warm Springs takes its name from the nearby springs — 88 degrees F and full of minerals — that edge Pine Mountain. Creek and Iroquois Indians used the springs to heal their sick and wounded, and in 1832, David Rose built the area’s first resort around them.

The town’s original name was Bullochville, and today, tight alleys lead visitors to Old Bullochville, a reconstructed homage to Warm Spring’s past, found behind Bulloch House and the many shops on Broad Street.

Warm Springs gained national recognition in 1924 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited the area to treat his polio-related paralysis. The springs are no longer open for public use, but they are used therapeutically by the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, founded by FDR.

Since the invention of the polio vaccine, the institute provides Vocational Rehabilitation programs for people with disabilities. The pools were recently refurbished by Georgia State Parks and a touch pool allows visitors to feel the warm spring waters and learn about its history.

Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation

The Little White House

Built in 1932 by then-Governor of New York Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Little White House became FDR’s home while he visited the area to take advantage of the springs. The people he met and experiences he had in Warm Springs prompted some of his programs once he became president, such as the Rural Electrification Administration.

In 1945, while posing for a portrait, FDR suffered a stroke and died shortly afterwards. The “Unfinished Portrait” is one of the many exhibits in the museum, as is his 1938 Ford convertible with hand controls.

The Little White House has been carefully preserved much as FDR left it. Visitors are welcome to visit the home, museum and pools.

The Little White House Historic Site

F.D. Roosevelt State Park

Georgia’s largest state park is set among the Pine Mountain Range. The 9,000-plus acre park offers more than 40 miles of trails, winding through pines and hardwood trees, over creeks and past small waterfalls.

Dowdell’s Knob offers a breath-taking view. It’s a spot that FDR was known to sometimes picnic and ponder national and international issues. He was so fond of the spot, he had a brick oven installed for barbecues. The overlook now features a life-size sculpture of the president gazing out over the mountains.

F.D. Roosevelt State Park

Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery

A pool at the fish hatchery

Established in 1899, the warm-water hatchery restores and manages fish such as striped bass, alligator gar and lake sturgeon. It’s also used to recover species that are listed under the Endangered Species Act and restore freshwater fish habitats.

The hatchery includes a public aquarium and visitors’ area with walkways amid a beautiful, natural environment.

Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery

The Bulloch House rises from its ashes

The Bulloch House has a well-earned its reputation of delicious, down-home cooking that draws people to Warm Springs. The current owners, since 2009, are Peter and Sandy Lampert, and they’ve not only kept the business going strong, they’ve built upon it — or rather, the ashes of it.

The original Bulloch House was built in 1893 by Benjamin F. Bulloch, co-founder of the town of Bullochville. After the town changed its name to Warm Springs, the building held onto its original name and in 1990, it was renovated and turned into a restaurant.

Unfortunately, in June 2015, lightning stuck the original building, smoldered in the wiring and burnt the structure to the ground during the night.

“When it erupted, thankfully, no one was in the building,” Sandy said. “It was so old, that it was like fat lighter [kindling]. The fire department tried to enter but had to rush out because the fire was taking hold so quickly and completely. It took less than 10 minutes for the old part of the building to burn down completely. The sky was glowing, and the flames were higher than the trees.”

The Lamperts had planned to rebuild on the same spot but found that the cost was prohibitive. They thought about moving the restaurant to another town.

“After the fire, we considered a move to Hampton or Columbus,” Peter said. “But in the end, we felt that Bulloch House belongs to Warm Springs.”

Diners are greeted with a case featuring some of the delicious dessert choices.

They located a building on Broad Street that could be renovated, and after some negotiation, the owner agreed to lease it to the Lamperts while the insurance claim was being processed. Renovations got underway and the Bulloch House reopened on December 1, 2015.

The spacious two-story restaurant has an elegant feel with high windows and white chandeliers. The walls are decorated with black and white photos of local history, and the menu, which changes weekly, features favorites like fried chicken, baked ham and catfish. There are also fried green tomatoes, collards, homemade biscuits and cornbread. Dessert includes six-layer chocolate cake, old fashioned pecan pie and banana pudding.

“A lot of people like this location better,” Peter said. “The parking is a bit more of a challenge, but it’s easier to find and it’s surrounded by shops.”

Fireflies and Lightning Bugs

One of those shops is the Lampert’s own Fireflies Gift Boutique, just a few doors down. Shoppers delight in a wide selection of women’s jewelry and adorable baby gifts as well as collegiate gear and must-have housewares.

The name of the shop has special meaning for Sandy and goes back to the fateful night of the fire. “We got the phone call in the middle of the night, and my husband rushed right over. He called me crying, “It’s gone…it’s all gone!”

When she got there, Sandy watched the embers burning and floating up into the trees. “To me, they looked fireflies, what we call lightning bugs,” she said.

The original restaurant had a gift shop attached to it, and the shop also suffered from the fire. “When we reopened our gift shop in this new location, it just made sense to name it Fireflies,” Sandy said.

Recently, the Lamperts have added a bakery/cafe behind the gift boutique, offering coffee, fudge and cookies as well as specialty cakes and pies, all baked on premises. And they’ve named it Lightnin’ Bugs.

The Bulloch House Restaurant

Fireflies Gift Boutique

Lightnin’ Bugs Bakery & Cafe

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.