Courtesy Georgia Trust
Sad news, Atlanta preservationists: The wrecking ball has knocked down yet another one of the city’s oldest structures, the latest in a long line of historic demolitions.
The façade of Craigie House, all that remained of the 105-year-old Ansley Park building following a 2014 storm, was leveled this week. According to preservationists, the razing came without warning, despite their hopes that the owner would save its red-brick edifice along with its four Corinthian columns as part of a new project.
“It’s sad but not surprising,” said Mark McDonald, the president and CEO of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, which had named the house a “place in peril” in 2011. “The demolition of the Craigie House has been a slow, painful, and ongoing affair. The building was challenged from the beginning. But we had some optimistic and hopeful moments.”
The Craigie House was built in 1911 to house the Daughters of the American Revolution’s first Georgia chapter. When a tree fell on the building in the mid-1980s, it was deemed unusable and the club moved out. Since then, it had undergone a series of repairs and sustained further damage, as well as weathered a sale and foreclosure after the turn of the millennium. As the structure fell into neglect, squatters occupied the building and graffiti artists tagged its walls.
In spring 2013, Newmark Knight Frank managing principal Bert Sanders and his wife, Laura Koch, bought the Craigie House for $350,000 with the intent of restoring it. “We’ve always loved that beautiful place,” Sanders said in 2013. “It was such a sad thing to drive by and see it continue to deteriorate.” But when an ice storm struck Atlanta in 2014, much of the structure collapsed under the weight of ice that accumulated on its roof.
For the past two years, the façade has stood on its own, making its preservation all the more challenging. “It was going to require Herculean efforts to save it,” McDonald said. However, Sanders had since told him that he would look into preserving the façade as he built a new building behind it.
Although the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, McDonald noted, that designation does not protect historic structures from being knocked down. Because the Craigie House wasn’t in a historic district, the demolition did not need to go through a review process.
“Atlanta doesn’t have [sufficient] public policies in place to preserve buildings,” McDonald said. “What was lost was a very important historic façade that showed the history of development [in Atlanta]. We’re becoming much more of a generic city.”
We’ve reached out to Sanders for comment. If we hear back, we’ll post an update.