The Edward and Emily Inman residence, a Second Renaissance Revival design, is by Atlanta architect Philip Trammell Shutze from 1926 to 1928 is his most celebrated work, adapting Italian and English classical styles to accommodate 20th century living.
The front yard, perched atop a dramatic terraced lawn, is anchored by an Italian Mannerist façade, with symmetrical double stairs and a central five-basin cascade, modeled on Villa Corsini in Rome. On the opposite (southeastern) side is an elegant oval courtyard.
Throughout his career, Shutze produced designs intricately linking house and site; Swan House is a premiere example. The gardens, like the architecture, display Italian references, captured in the notebooks of Shutze and his frequent American Academy in Rome collaborator, landscape architect Edward Lawson. At the far reaches of the Baroque-inspired lawns, obelisks, and garden statuary, the lower terrace includes a pair of clover-shaped pools akin to those at Villa Cigona near Bisuschio. The broken pediment folly in the more intimate southwestern side garden was inspired by La Pietra near Florence; it frames an eagle like that at Villa Borghese in Rome.
In 1966, the Atlanta History Center purchased Swan House, including most of its furnishings, and a year later opened it to the public. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.