Dunwoody News Alert

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Condos on Fischer Mansion property

AJC, DeKalb, 11/20/06, by Chandler Brown

How to save a historic mansion: Convert to condos

From the story:
In the early 1960s, Tom Reilly remembers driving his sister to and from her private school situated on the daffodil-dotted hills of Flowerland, a 100-acre estate off Chamblee Dunwoody Road.

"I remember going up that old driveway, lined with azaleas," Reilly recalled this month. "It was beautiful."

A two-year battle threatened to destroy this rare icon of Atlanta history. But the jewel of Flowerland — the neoclassical Fischer Mansion — is about to become the centerpiece of a new luxury development of mini-mansions.

This month, a condominium developer plans to tear down a church on the Flowerland property, but will leave the stately mansion, its carriage house and surrounding gardens intact.

Atlanta-based Stafford Properties plans 13 two- and three-story "mansion-style" condo buildings with a total of 55 units. Fischer Mansion will be converted into three condo units, and the carriage house will be used as the development's clubhouse, overlooking a new pool, Stafford project manager Mark Jones said recently during a tour of the property.

The project, called the Preserve at Fischer Mansion, is set to open in spring 2007, with prices starting at $350,000. Plans call for some of the new buildings to feature red bricks and white columns to "blend in" with the historic structures, said sales agent Mary Grace Stubbs.
Dr. Luther Fischer, co-founder of Crawford Long Hospital, built the mansion for his wife, Lucy, in the late 1920s. Graced by a sweeping front porch and tall windows, the mansion was designed by one of Atlanta's most famed architects, Philip T. Shutze. Completed in 1930, it is surrounded by lush gardens and century-old woodlands overlooking Nancy Creek.

Reilly, a retired BellSouth and Cingular Wireless executive, said he has documented 55 animal species on the site, from Canadian geese to red-tail hawks.

"Those woods have never been logged, lived on or farmed," Reilly said.

Lucy Fischer, a lover of flowers who became an invalid late in life, died in 1937, Reilly said. Luther Fischer moved out of the home and later remarried. He died in 1953.

During the next few decades, most of the land was sold to residential developers.

A private Catholic school occupied the mansion and what was left of Flowerland for much of the 1960s, and Atlanta Unity Church purchased the mansion and seven surrounding acres in the late 1970s. The church initially used the mansion for services but later built a modern worship center and education building on the property. The mansion then was used for weddings and special events.
Meanwhile, Jones, the Stafford developer, heard about the controversy and persuaded company officials to step in.

The battle ended in summer 2005 when Stafford announced plans to buy the land and preserve the mansion. A few months later, Stafford bought Fischer Mansion and its seven acres for $3.9 million, according to DeKalb County tax records.

Stafford gave the church a year to find a new home. Atlanta Unity held its final service on the property late last month and has relocated to Norcross.

"We've always encouraged the good in all people, and I think that's been manifested in this situation," said John Strickland, senior minister at Atlanta Unity Church.

"The whole thing turned out where everybody won," Reilly said. "The church got its money. ... DeKalb County and the state of Georgia got to keep a very important piece of history."


  • At 12:05 PM, Blogger Judy said…

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Doesn't like you've been blogging too much lately!

  • At 7:51 PM, Blogger chamblee54 said…

    hey. Thanks ( I think) for the comment you left at my blog.
    There is something very esoteric about misspelling the word weird when quoting Hunter S. Thompson.
    Also...are you the Steve Barton that used to Live on Parkridge Drive?


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