BUCKHEAD, Ga. -- It was an intriguing, unusual offer. If you can pay to move it, you can have an historic Buckhead mansion that was built in 1924 for Thomas Jefferson's great great grandson.
The offer came after The Buckhead Heritage Society began the battle to save the Randolph Lucas house, which was destined for demolition this summer.
The house sits on Peachtree Road in Buckhead and has already been moved once, in 1990, when the 2500 Condo Building was built. At that time, the builder and owners agreed to save the home. But the Condo Association said the house had fallen into disrepair and it didn't have the money to make it habitable. Several months ago, the group obtained a demolition permit.
So the offer of the free mansion went out in the fall, and now the house will finally move to a new home.
Roger Smith and Christopher Jones with NewTown Partners, an Atlanta-based economic development consulting firm focusing on distressed historic resources, will live in it as their personal home. The couple was shopping for homes in Ansley Park, a midtown neighborhood peppered with turn of the century homes. Smith and Jones said economically, moving the mansion to Ansley made sense. The estimate of the cost just to move the house is $350,000. Jones says, "This project in so many ways embodies the fundamentals of historic preservation, and from a business standpoint it makes economic sense. It should be quite an exciting project for the city of Atlanta."
The couple purchased a vacant lot at 78 Peachtree Circle and that's where the home will move, for good.
Wright Mitchell, founder of Buckhead Heritage, says, "We'll really change the tide of how historic preservation is viewed in Buckhead."
The move will be its own story. Slated to take place later this summer, the building will be jacked up and steel beams will be inserted underneath the house. A rig will pull the building off the lot directly onto Peachtree Road. Then the house will be pulled south along Peachtree Road to 1301 Peachtree Street, the large vacant lot across from the High Museum. One Museum Square, which owns the lot at 1301 Peachtree Street, has agreed to allow a temporary road to be built across its lot to the 78 Peachtree Circle lot, which sits directly behind it. The house will be pulled across the temporary road and into place at its new home.
Mitchell says, "This is a watershed moment for historic preservation in Atlanta. The Randolph-Lucas House project proves that groups with sometimes divergent interests can truly come together to support a creative solution to a difficult historic preservation problem. That has not always been the case in our great city. We would like to thank the City of Atlanta, the 2500 Condo Association, New Town Partners, One Museum Square, Georgia Commerce Bank, the Georgia Trust, the Atlanta Preservation Center, and all of the other project partners who are working hard to make this project a reality."