The house, built in 1797 by John McDonald, grandfather to Cherokee Chief John Ross, will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the summer.
Larry Rose Sr., president of the John Ross House Association, oversees the upkeep of the more than 200-year-old house.
On opening day a number of people visited the house, and Rose hopes the interest continues and can draw interest in renewing other portions of downtown Rossville.
Rose has hired Chase Galyon and Shannon Gladden, juniors at Ridgeland High School and who have brushed up on the local history of Rossville and the John Ross House while giving tours.
The house was originally located 100 yards to the east of where it now sits. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was once featured on the official state map of Georgia.
It is also the oldest house of its type in Georgia, Rose said he was once told by a historian.
“We hope to keep the support of the city. They have been helpful maintaining the property,” Rose said.
Rose has had many school groups, church and civic organizations that have scheduled visits over the years, including many from Tahlequah, Okla., where the Cherokee nation was forcibly sent in the 1830s.
Students from Rossville Middle School used to walk to the John Ross House on field trips, learning about the heritage and hardships from two centuries ago.
The first floor of the building is handicap-accessible.
The house has served as a post office, schoolhouse, council room, and general store while John Ross lived in Poplar Springs, which became Rossville by 1813.
Ross’s Landing, merely a settlement in those days, is the other noteworthy landmark from the leader of the Cherokee. Today it is known as Chattanooga.
More recently city residents and officials have taken an interest in beginning the process of revitalizing downtown Rossville.
Ridgeland High School’s “Project Synergy” sought to have the next generation’s concept to revitalize Rossville.
The winning concept by student Meagan Frady seeks to improve the park and surrounding area by the John Ross House.
Frady’s plan is very similar to one that Rose envisioned nearly two decades ago.
Several concepts better utilizing the John Ross House have been considered. The John Ross Festival had been held at the site since the 1970s, at one time featuring a black-tie dinner and six train excursions between Rossville and Chickamauga for visitors. But the festival ended a few years ago following a move to the recreation center.
Rossville’s 2005 plans for rebuilding the West Lake train depot, along with a walkway to the historic house, have yet to materialize.
Rose, having made a living selling motorcycles, likes the idea of getting the John Ross House involved with the Trail of Tears motorcycle ride, which will start in Chattanooga for 2010 in September. It is listed as a significant site on the official Trail of Tears.