February 26, 1997

Athens' most interesting history lessons don't come from lecture halls. Georgia's "Classic City" is dotted with historic homes and a wealth of local myths.

The Taylor-Grady House is one of the oldest Greek-Revival homes in Athens. Among its anachronistic charms is a "petticoat table" with a mirror underneath, that allowed belles to make sure they weren't indecently revealing any ankle before they went out in public. A self-guided tour is free. Guided tours are available for a small suggested donation. Bare ankles are permissible.

Many historic homes on Milledge Avenue now sport Greek letters. The Alpha Gamma Delta sorority occupies what is known as the "wedding cake" house. As legend has it, the house was a gift from a groom to his bride.

The double-barreled cannon is another Athens landmark. According to local folklore, the civil war behemoth backfired, decapitating its inventor. Other versions of the tale are less graphic; Depending on whom you ask, the accident killed a cow or knocked down a chimney.

Art lovers can check out the spiffy new Georgia Museum of Art, on the campus of the University of Georgia. Exhibitions include "20th Century Watercolors: From Kandinsky to Wyeth" (through March 23, 1997) and "Women Crossing Barriers" (March 3-17, 1997), a collection of works from notable 20th century female artists, in honor of Women's History Month.

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Outdoor Athens