Thursday, June 20, 2013

Saving An Italian Baroque in Atlanta, 1923

Calhoun House, Hentz, Reid and Adler
My friend, Jennifer Boles, of The Peak of Chic, recently posted about the Calhoun House, in Atlanta- one of my all-time favorite houses - and I've owned a copy of the 1973 "Architecture of Neel Reid In Georgia" (University of Georgia Press) ever since I met Professor Carey Sutlive, while attending the old Massey Junior College, which later became the Art Institute, after moving from downtown to uptown, in Buckhead.  Carey Sutlive did the photography for this book- and he even signed my copy. 

According to this book, by Professor James Grady - Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology, the house was originally sited on 18 acres, and was inspired by Villa Cuzzano, near Verona, Villa Gori in Sienna, and the Villa Spada in Rome.  Described in the book as "not large" at just under 10,000 square feet, it's shocking to me that the MLS on Trulia and Zillow have incorrect information posted- stating the date of construction as 1900 and using a generic description that seems to have come from a ranch house in Dunwoody...this property is a steal at 2.5 million, and could probably be purchased for less.  The 1973 book listed the then current owner as one Mr. Thornwell.  

This elevation is where the "front" entry is
You can see why I would find this property so interesting, and so desirable, and I am sure I've had more than a few dreams of myself living in it!  In the plan view, which I will show in a future post, one enters a vestibule, then the stair hall, with the drawing room to the left, off of which is a porch.  To the right is the dining room, and straight ahead is the library.  There is, oddly enough, a three car attached garage.  Upstairs, there are five bed chambers, one "maids room", and two sleeping porches- remember those?  The dining room features a baroque inspired mantel surmounted by a portrait of Michelangelo.  According to Mr. Grady, the furnishings, doors, and chandeliers were purchased in Italy by Neel Reid, and the terraced and parterred gardens designed by Phillip Shutze.  Check out the listing for this one at 3418 Pinestream Road, NW Atlanta.  From reading Jennifers' post it is apparent that this gorgeous trophy house has not been landmarked!  If this is true, then heaven forbid, it could become another victim of the demolition crews.  We all are praying that the old Calhoun-Thornwell house will be saved.  



  1. Dear readers, While further researching this house, which was known as Trygveson, it has been listed or nominated for listing, on the National Register-see the most interesting site for the Buckhead Heritage Society- for further information...

  2. Readers, there is also a Rizzoli book on the work of Phillip Shutze...which also shows Trygveson.

  3. It is indeed a truly spectacular house. The real estate websites usually just repeat the information provided by the listing agent (notably unreliable sources for historical facts).

    Real estate tax records usually start with the first sale or development of the property, that is, the land rather than when the house was built. So the earlier date is often mistakenly associated with the construction of the house. A study of the records will show a big jump in value for the address, however, and that will usually reveal the year that construction was completed.

  4. John, Thanks for this information, I appreciate your input. I'm sure that I could learn a lot from you, and hope to continue our (virtual) friendship! :) I found the most seemingly accurate information on this house from the Buckead Heritage site. It just seemed odd to me that no full page or site was created for this, as you said yourself, spectacular property. From reading comments posted on Jennifer's blog, The Peak Of Chic, as well as speaking with some Atlanta residents I have recently met, it sounds as if the residential market there has gone wild with new construction favored over historic preservation. This wouldn't surprise me, knowing how the town strives to be bigger and better. The novel "A Man In Full" captures the rapacious spirit of Atlanta, often called the "New York of the South"...


  5. just seeing these comments - in DC we have the problem where anything older than 1900 is mistakenly listed AS 1900 (which all realtors love to use even when it's obviously incorrect) because our records office burnt down in 1900 and all previous records were lost. If you looked up the white house, it would be listed as '1900' even though EVERYONE KNOWS it was much older. Oh realtors *sigh*

    1. Stefan,
      Thanks again for your comments. That is a shocking statement, about the records being destroyed!


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