Google+ Georgia On My Mind: June 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stop the Demolition: The Randolph-Lucas Mansion

Let me just say at the outset of this that IF I ever come into a good sum of money….a million or more…..I will spend the majority of it investing in historical properties by preserving and restoring them and then rent them out to various businesses. 

I’m serious….

I’m so tired of seeing building after building ignored, abandoned, or pushed aside for progress especially in this day and age when we have so many commercial properties sitting languishing with a for sale or lease sign .

Growing up in a suburb of Atlanta as I did my family went downtown quite often and that included motoring up and down the city’s famed Peachtree Street.  Many buildings grabbed my attention as a child, but I always hoped Mom would drive just a little bit slower as we passed the Randolph-Lucas House at 2924 Peachtree Street.

Randolph-Lucas Mansion on Peachtree

The Georgian style home was designed by P. Thornton Marye, in 1924.   He is also known for designing the Atlanta Terminal Station, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, the Fox Theater, and the Southern Bell building at Ivy Street.

The home’s original owner was Hollins Nicolas Randolph.    He had Marye design the home to be an exact copy of his ancestoral home in Albermarle, Viriginia called Edgehill   You see…..Hollins Nicolas Randolph was one of THE Virginia Randolphs and……he was the great, great grandson of Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence and our third president among other things.  

To say Mr. Randolph was connected is an understatement….and he wasn’t JUST an attorney.  He served on numerous boards and committees and was general counsel for the Federal Reserve Bank.  

Randolph was also heavily involved with the Stone Mountain Memorial Association and authored the Congressional Act directing the minting of five million Stone Mountain coins.  These coins were commemorative in nature and were intended to raise money for the memorial.   You can see one here.  The bill Randolph authored was signed by President Calvin Coolidge and called for up to five million half dollars to be issued.

Georgia wasn’t his only focus.  Randolph was the counsel for Boulder Dam, the Cape Cod Canal in Massachusetts and the St. Andrews Bay Development Company.    He also represented William Randolph Hearst’s interests in the South. 

Gee, if only the walls of that home could talk, right?

Mr. Randolph sold the home to move to Washington D.C. and when he did the Lucas family moved in.   They own several theaters around Atlanta, and later their daughter would marry into the Storey family.  You may recognize that name as one belonging to another family of theater owners. 

Lately, the house has been in the news because an application for demolition has been made by the 2500 Peachtree Condominium Association, and as this AJC article advises….for the second time in six years, the Randolph-Lucas House is facing possible demolition.  

Preservationist groups contend the condominium homeowners association s trying to renege on a deal struck 15 years ago, to preserve [one of the last mansions left on Peachtree Street from a bygone era.]

The condominium association applied for a permit to demolish the home a few months ago stating the home was “deteriorating and dangerous.”     They even have an engineer who agrees with them.

However, in 1997 when the condominiums were in the process of being developed an agreement was struck with the Atlanta City Council.   The condos could be built, BUT the mansion had to be preserved since it’s on the city’s list of historic properties.     The home was actually moved to the southern edge of the property so the condos could be built, and the developer agreed to preserve the mansion.

Since then there has been constant incremental steps by the condo association to work towards the demolition of the home.

Preservationists agree there are some structural issues, but not anything that would warrant a demolition.    The condo association attorney states he is only trying to rid the city of a menace.

A menace?

Even former Atlanta mayor and Buckhead Coalition President, Sam Massell has gotten involved by sending a letter proposing a solution stating, “I believe we can find or create a Foundation that would receive ownership (and accept compliance with the original zoning agreement), which should reduce the taxation on the condo owners.   The plan would be for The Foundation to operate this house as an Atlanta Mayor’s Mansion – not for residential occupancy, but for ceremonial events.”

You know…..I always like Sam Massell.   I think this is a lovely idea, and so do many others.

The Buckhead Heritage Society President Wright Mitchell has also sent a letter advising Aderhold Properties, a company that specializes in historic reuse of homes, is interested in taking over the property and rehabilitating it.   Apparently the condo association rejected the idea.

So, there was a meeting last night .   I’m not going to reprint everything here when you can click through and read for yourself.   Basically, the condo association is adamant that the home is going to be demolished, and the Buckhead Heritage Society is looking for possible sites to move the home. 

There will be a meeting July 12th where the issue will be presented to the Atlanta Board of Zoning Adjustment.   

What this boils down to is the condo association decided from day one they didn't want to abide by the agreement and someone got their knickers in a wad became the house blocked their view from their living room .   The agreement was made to preserve the home….and they haven’t done that.   They are just willing to shuffle their responsibility off to others when they knew full well an agreement existed when they bought in to the development.

I certainly hope the demolition permit WON’T be issued.   

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bartow County's History Museum

Did you know Bartow County has a history museum

The location of the museum is historic all by itself since it’s located in Bartow County’s 1869 courthouse.

The museum's  website states, “The Bartow History Museum focuses on the settlement and development of Bartow County, Georgia, beginning with the early nineteenth century, when the Cherokee still inhabited the area. Early European settler life, the iron ore and bauxite industries, Civil War strife, post-war recovery, the Great Depression era, early textile industry, and notable figures are depicted through interactive exhibits in the permanent gallery space.”

This Saturday, June 9th  the museum is hosting a bus tour that will trace the route of the Great Locomotive Chase through Bartow County on April 12, 1862 with author and historian Joe Head.   They will be stopping at Emerson, Allatoona Pass, Cooper’s Furnace, Cartersville, Kingston and Adairsville.

Tickets are limited, so you would need to call as soon as possible.  Included in your ticket is bus transportation, lunch, admissions to museums and historic sites on the route and other special treats.    Tickets are $35 each for members and $40 for what they refer to as “not-yet” members.

Other things to do in Cartersville:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Heavenly Hydrangeas

My grandfather Blanton’s house was always an interesting place to visit when I was growing up.  My grandmother passed away suddenly when I was six months old, and Papa had been a bachelor ever since.  

You could tell as you walked through his house.  There was always a fine layer of dust on every surface, he stored certain items in Tampa brand cigar boxes, and mama usually re-washed every dish in the dish drain before we used them.

Papa tried, but he really wasn’t into keeping up Nanny’s standards of housekeeping after she passed.  

Over time Papa’s grief just chipped away at Nanny’s presence in the house until finally… was difficult to recognize a female had ever lived there.   By the time I was ten all evidence of Nanny living there had all but disappeared.

However, step out onto the porch and take a few steps up the walkways or across the carpet of lush Bermuda grass and you could see Nanny’s imprint everywhere.   In the spring jonquils were scattered along the wood line and blankets of thrift were hanging over the low rock and cement walls she created herself along the walks.  There were wild dogwoods she found in the woods and transplanted in the yard, Mimosa trees with their strange little leaves, and then there were the hydrangeas.

I’ve always associated hydrangeas with my Nanny even though I never knew her because she had several in her yard.   One large plant was right in front of the spot where Papa sat on the front porch when it was warm enough.   He had a Bassett Hound named Bowser who had worn out a nice little bed for himself underneath the bush.  I would sit on the porch and think about how nice it would be to get up under that bush with Bowser and see things from his perspective, but I knew Mama wouldn't like that one little bit.

I have fond memories of Papa letting my sister and I collect bouquets of Nanny’s blue and purple hydrangea blooms.   My sister would carefully wrap our bouquets in wet paper towels and then wrap aluminum foil around them to keep them fresh on the ride home.

As we got older and before Papa left his home to live with us we discussed how we really should save those bouquets…..dry them out…..and preserve Nanny’s flowers in some way for the future.  

We never did, but my fondness for hydrangeas has never waned.

For the second year in a row I’ve attended the Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival  where I live in Douglasville, Georgia.   

I don’t garden….I’m not a member of any garden club…..I don’t know anything about hydrangeas other than the fact I like them, but I still go.

Of course hydrangeas come in all sorts and shapes……The next three pictures are all types of hydrangeas....

This is an Oak Leaf Hydrangea

This was a winner in one of the's called "Twist and Shout"

Part of the festival includes a flower show.  I certainly agree with this year’s winner:

This year’s featured speaker was Vince Dooley.   Yes, the former head football coach of the University of Georgia.   He’s quite the gardener and has even has a hydrangea named for him.

Coach Dooley discussed all types of things….how he got interested in gardening, his love of history, the books he has written, and of course he spoke the language of those in the crowd who are avid gardeners by throwing out the Latin and common names of various kinds of hydrangeas.....all "French" to me, but it was still interesting.

My husband did cringe a little when he heard his favorite all time college football coach mention the “Pinky Winky” variety of hydrangea. 

I head the Mister say under his breath, “I did NOT just hear Coach Dooley say Pinky Winky, did I?”

I’m afraid he did.

Coach Dooley shared pictures of his personal gardens, too.   They are lovely!!!

And thankfully for the Mister’s sake Coach Dooley did finish up with some football memories including his favorite all time play during the 1980 Georgia-Florida game when Buck Belue threw to Lindsay Scott to get a first down….and they managed to get so much more!

Hydrangeas AND football…… was a nice afternoon!

You can see some of the wonderful entries for table displays from the Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival over at Cooking With Cooper.
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