Preservationists plan to move the historic Randolph-Lucas House in Buckhead to the Ansley Park neighborhood this summer. NewTown Partners, an Atlanta-based economic development consulting firm focusing on distressed historic resources, purchased the Ansley property at 78 Peachtree Circle on Thursday, May 30, and has already begun the process of moving the structure. The mansion will be the private home of NewTown Partners’ founders, Christopher Jones and Roger Smith, returning the mansion to its residential roots for the first time in nearly 20 years.
The 1924 home is prominently located at the intersection of Peachtree Road and Lindbergh Drive. Atlanta architect P. Thornton Marye designed the Georgian-Revival style home for Hollins Randolph, a great-great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson, based on Randolph’s ancestral home near Charlottesville, Virginia. Mrs. Margaret Lucas owned the house until her death in 1987. The home has been threatened with demolition several times since.
NewTown Partners arranged for the preservation and moving of the home from the Condominium Association for 2500 Peachtree Road, which was granted a demolition permit to demolish the home last fall. The condo association, Buckhead Heritage Society, City of Atlanta and other partners have worked together since to find a solution for the home – ultimately offering it for free to anyone who could move it by this summer. The home will be moved to an empty lot in Historic Ansley Park, a neighborhood that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In October 2012, Buckhead Heritage, the City of Atlanta, and the 2500 Peachtree Road Condominium Association entered into a legally binding agreement that established the framework to relocate the Randolph-Lucas House. In December, Buckhead Heritage published a Request for Proposal to individuals who had expressed interest in relocating the house.
In January 2013, Jones and Smith of NewTown Partners were chosen as project partners based on their project timeline, demonstrated financial resources, and proposed location for the house in Ansley Park, which offers an architecturally compatible environment. Over the last four months, Jones and Smith worked closely with Buckhead Heritage and James Morehead of JTM House Movers to coordinate the permitting and logistics of this complex project with the City of Atlanta Zoning Division and Georgia Department of Transportation – a process that is continuing into June. The project partners are also in the process of coordinating with utility companies, including Georgia Power, AT&T and Comcast, regarding the temporary relocation of aerial utility lines along the route as the house moves south on Peachtree Road. A date for the move has not been set. However, the project partners anticipate the relocation to happen this summer.
On May 30, Jones and Smith closed on the new site for the home at 78 Peachtree Circle in historic Ansley Park. Jones and Smith of NewTown Partners have agreed to sensitively rehabilitate the home according to historic preservation standards and will use it as their primary residence. The law firm of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP handled the negotiation and drafting of the agreement on a pro bono basis. They have arranged with One Museum Square, which owns the lot at 1301 Peachtree Street, to allow a temporary road to be built across its lot, allowing a direct access to 78 Peachtree Circle, which sits directly behind it. Jones and Smith have secured funding for the project from Georgia Commerce Bank.
Once the house is moved, Jones and Smith have agreed to donate a preservation façade easement to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, ensuring that the house can never be torn down and that all future exterior changes or additions follow preservation standards.
Wright Mitchell, president of Buckhead Heritage, said, “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.”
Georgia Power, AT&T, Comcast, TW Telecom, and the City of Atlanta Public Works Department are currently working to address any and all route issues pertaining to the temporary removal of power lines, cable, street signs or anything else obstructing the move. The Georgia Department of Transportation is cooperating with the Society, as well as the house movers, in managing the route for the move. The house was previously moved a few hundred feet east and south by a developer to make way for the 2500 Peachtree Road Condominium building behind it.