Featured for this Fast Friday post is a crumbling structure at 1204 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta. Located right across the street from Piedmont Park, it is one of the original meeting centers for the Atlanta Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This Georgia chapter was organized on April 15, 1891, making it the oldest chapter in Georgia, as well as the second oldest chapter in the United States.
Early meetings were held in private homes (not this one) and at the state capitol until 1895. In that year the Massachusetts State Building, one of the many buildings constructed for the Cotton States and International Exposition hosted by the city of Atlanta in Piedmont Park, was donated to the chapter.
The Massachusetts State Building was renamed the Craigie House and was used for chapter meetings until 1909, when it was sold and this new Craigie House was built. The deteriorating structure you see here was completed for the chapter in 1911.
This historic building was recently sold. Let’s hope the buyer will preserve Atlanta history, using this Craigie House for something new and not demolish it for a parking lot or apartment building.
UPDATE: The original Massachusetts State Building built in 1895 for the Exposition was designed to resemble the Craigie House of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a home built in 1759 that served as George Washington’s first headquarters during the American Revolution.
While the design of the Craigie House pictured for this article is different than the original Craigie House in Cambridge and the Craigie House that resided in Piedmont Park, the name was passed down by the Chapter.
Furthermore, the Craigie House built for the Exposition was supposed to be moved from Piedmont Park to this location, but this never materialized. In the 1890’s there were meetings, discussions and fundraising efforts to have the building moved to a piece of land donated by George Washington Collier and Benjamin Walker, but eventually moving the building was deemed not worth the trouble. Walker’s name might sound familiar, since he sold a large tract of farmland in 1887 to the Gentlemen’s Driving Club, land which would later be developed into Piedmont Park.
The Piedmont Park structure was sub-par, and the cost was extraordinary to move it. By 1903 the Chapter’s efforts moved to constructing a brand new building on the land donated by Collier and Walker, which included the present site on Piedmont Avenue.
The Massachusetts Building (the Craigie House in Piedmont Park) was sold for salvage and parts of the building were used to construct the new Craigie House you see featured here.
A dispute over the land delayed construction of the building. Eventually Collier’s land was re-donated to the Chapter by the Southern Real Estate Improvement Company (who developed Ansley Park) and the Chapter proceeded to swap this land with Walker’s descendants for the present site at 1204 Piedmont Avenue. It’s a complicated and convoluted story.
The Craigie House pictured here was designed by architect Thomas Morgan. Building permits were issued in October of 1910 and a formal opening occurred for this new Craigie House on June 14, 1911. But the home was not fully completed. Over the next twenty years improvements were repeatedly made to the roof, heaters were added and many parts of the interior were renovated or updated.
In the 1920’s this Craigie House was rented as a dance studio to Arthur Murray, the famous dance instructor who started the incredibly successful dance studio chain. The 1960’s took a toll on both the Craigie House building and the membership of the D.A.R.; funding and care nosedived.
Eventually the building pictured here deteriorated to this dilapidated state, aided by neglect and various incidents, such as the Magnolia tree that tumbled onto the roof in 1986, along with Hurricane Opal in 1994. – Update by Conor 6/27/13