Well, it’s officially been released now so I can jump on the story of the recent sale of the DAR/Craigie House. The Craigie House on Piedmont Ave in Atlanta has been the home of the Georgia chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution for a century or more. In recent years it has fallen into pretty serious disrepair though, by the sound of things the DAR has NEVER had the money to properly finish it to begin with! So it goes. Anyway, it’s in a right state now as you can see, and after a run-in or two with the wrong kind of developers, the house was still on the market for a “preservation-minded” buyer. When folks noticed the SOLD sign in the yard on Monday spirits were high and the lines were buzzing as various news outlets including us, tried to uncover the scoop.
Now, as I searched for information regarding the historic preservation protections on the building (none, alas, it’s not even on the NR except as a contributing property in the Ansley Park NR district, also not protected), I uncovered the real history of the building which is pretty interesting. **
“Craigie House,” it turns out, is actually sort of a misnomer. That’s the real name of the house on Piedmont Ave, but to its namesake—the home of Longfellow and first headquarters of George Washington in the War for American Independence—it bears no resemblance. The resemblance is all in the story:
The original Craigie House, built in 1759, was used by General George Washington as his headquarters in 1775-76 and was the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from 1837-82. In 1895, the State of Massachusetts erected an exact replica of this historic home for its building at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta on land that is now part of Piedmont Park. *
The Atlanta Chapter of the DAR had been founded only 4 years earlier, in 1891, shortly following the founding of the National organization and the Chicago chapter which was the first. The Georgia Magazine article goes on to say that,
Of course, the members of the four-year-old Atlanta Chapter DAR played an important part in the social affairs of the Exposition. Many brilliant receptions were given and according to a history of the chapter appearing in 1921, “These social affairs given by the Atlanta Chapter have never been surpassed by any entertainments of the Atlanta Daughters.” *
Massachusetts then, trying to decide how to dispose of their temporary home at the Atlanta World’s Fair, decided that that the donation of the Massachusetts exposition building would be “a fitting and proper recognition of the courteous and untiring efforts of the ladies of Atlanta for the hospitable welcome accorded to the people of Massachusetts.” The house, however, was still in Piedmont Park, and though near, it was not an easy transition to the lot on Piedmont Ave which the DAR would soon acquire through another donation.
The fundraising began but the building fund did not grow fast enough. In 1909, the Craigie House in Piedmont Park was sold for $400, and demolished (the city had recently condemned many of the remaining exposition buildings). However, the DAR salvaged windows, doors, “and some bricks and boards,” which were moved to the lot on Piedmont Ave. It is possible that some of these materials were used in the construction of the new chapter house which would bear the same historic name.
Ultimately, the idea of reconstructing the Craigie House by the same floorplan was abandoned as well due to it’s unsuitability as a meeting place (also, i don’t think it would’ve fit on their 30 ft frontage lot). Thomas Morgan, a noted Atlanta architect whose wife served as the DAR Regent from 1906-07, likely designed the current building, a very classical American design. On June 14, 1911, the two-story red brick Chapter House with four white columns supporting a full-height portico “was thrown open to the public.”
There you have it, “How the Craigie House got its name.” Finally, I should say that all this about the DAR is particularly timely and relevant to me as I JUST mailed off my notarized signature form to complete my application to the DAR (Dancing Rabbit Chapter)! (my ancestor apparently sold bacon to the troops)
* from Georgia Magazine, “Diamond Jubilee Inspires Gifts for Historic Craigie House, Home of Atlanta Chapter DAR,” February-March 1966.
** My primary source was an excellent post by tomitronics.