Tag Archives: news

Sandy Springs’ historic gem threatened

Not far from “downtown” Sandy Springs (that cluster of shopping centers where the recently formed city is working to create a town center) lie over 70 acres of private greenspace that are currently for sale and in the middle of the northern portion lies the exquisite, serene, Glenridge Hall.

Glenridge Hall, built by TK Glenn in 1929, is now for sale along with its surrounding acreage. This exquisite restored historic house has no protections.

Glenridge Hall, built by TK Glenn in 1929, is now for sale along with its surrounding acreage. This exquisite restored historic house has no protections.

I need not tell any metro-Atlantan that property at the intersection of 400 and Abernathy Rd is a prime real estate in the corporate world, in fact UPS and Newell Rubbermaid headquarters sit on former Glenn family (now Mayson) property adjacent to the acreage now for sale.

TK GLENN, the builder
Thomas Kearney (TK) Glenn was one of those bootstrap fellows like so many early Atlantans such as Asa Griggs Candler, Amos Rhodes, and Joel Hurt. From Vernon, Mississippi, he came to Atlanta in 1887 and before you knew it he had his fingers in half the pots in the city, from the nascent Atlanta Consolidated Street Railway Co (later Georgia Power) to aiding the development of Atlantic Steel, Grady Hospital, and Sun Trust Bank. (read more about him in relation to the Glenn Building on Marietta)

In 1915 TK Glenn purchased 400 acres for a farm and upon marrying his second wife, in 1927, built Glenridge Hall on the property, which was completed in 1929. It was an English Tudor Revival manor house for an English country estate, just north of Atlanta.

The Restoration
In the 1980s, Frances Glenn and Joey Mayson expressed their desire to restore Glenridge Hall for “preservation beyond our own lifetime and into perpetuity.” They were spurred by the sale of a huge portion (around 150 acres) of the property to developers, which would become office parks and Ga-400.

They enlisted the help of preservationists and the community of Sandy Springs rallied behind them. Glenridge Hall was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and the restoration was completed to the trumpet call of local papers and earned accolades from The Georgia Trust.

Unfortunately Frances (granddaughter of TK Glenn) died of complications in childbirth in 1987. Joey Mayson continued to care for and restore the property as a memorial to her while he lived there with his daughter, Caroline. It is touching to read the correspondence and clippings of that era that are contained in the National Register file at the State Historic Preservation Office.

He fought hard to keep encroaching development at bay though in the end, offices towers for UPS, Kaiser Permanente, Rubbermaid and others rose on the eastern flank of the property. The house though, through Mr. Mayson’s efforts remained secluded in the midst of a thickly forested 37-acre parcel north of Abernathy Rd. As for it’s service to the public and the community, while the grandest ideals he and his wife shared in the 1980s were never fully realized (public access, and a tie-in to Marta for starters it sounds like), Glenridge Hall has served the community over the years, hosting balls, fundraisers and other charitable events at little or no cost to the charity.


But times change, and people come and go. Ideals are forgotten and unfortunately Mr. Mayson never had Glenridge Hall placed in that land trust he dreamed of when he saw the first office towers rising. Today the family, with the almost exclusive aid of their financial manager Mike Rabalais, are selling the remainder of the property, some 76 acres in total, including Glenridge Hall, and no protections are in place.

Would a corporation see the value in this pristine property? enough to stay the hand of execution (of forest and hall) and let the property continue to serve this world? It is possible, but unlikely in the booming bustling office-park road-happy Atlanta.

The people of Sandy Springs should be raising a ruckus!
but only a handful seem to be aware of it at all.

The preservation of this beautiful property along with some land conservation could be an exceptional boon to the city. There are 76 acres at stake! Surely there is room in there for everyone to be happy.

Istanbul progress

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a plan. Istanbul is going to be the financial capital of the world. It could a blip in the translation, but my version says “THE financial capital,” forget New York, London, Hong Kong, think: Istanbul. But this capitalism won’t come cheap for Turks. Their capital city is taking a hit of uber-modernization as it (unrelated to the PM’s worldly aspirations) grows it’s way to being a megalopolis and the current PM and money hungry developers are no help. In fact, it seems that the historic preservation regulations that have been in place for decades are no help either!

Haribo Towers I

This was brought to my attention this morning by a story on npr which i subsequently looked up and learned about a very interesting documentary featuring Istanbul called Ecumenopolis (I’ll save that discussion for another day).

Meanwhile, I am in the middle of reading a book for class titled Preserving the World’s Great Cities in which Anthony Tung says of Istanbul that already “the skyline that was once made up of domes and minarets of mosques is now dominated by looming and massive modern hotels.”

Similar to the reconfiguring of cities that went on in Paris in the mid-1800s, and the general flattening of blocks and blocks of existing buildings for the sake of a few 1960s high rises and a multitude of parking spaces, Istanbul is reconfiguring herself to fit the deep pockets of her middle and upperclass guides. Maximization of commercial space/income-producing properties is a priority. Developers are seizing greenspace and the PM is scheming to direct traffic into the last of the metropolis’ forests while locals are suspicious he plans to convert an architectural gem of a public train station into a shopping mall. Meanwhile new developments and gated communities spring up for the wealthy and the poor are crammed into high rise projects to maximize land value and revenue.

One particularly creative twist on the part of developers involves a city park mentioned in the npr story. There has been a park here since the 1940s when an Ottoman army barracks was abandoned and demolished. After years of coveting this prime real estate, someone finally got the brilliant idea to use Turkey’s law of preserving historic buildings to develop it and so, says the director of the Ecumenopolis film, “in order to protect this already-demolished building, they’re rebuilding it… They’re saying their preserving” something that is already gone, making a reconstruction which will, actually, serve as a shopping mall. Oy vey.

What will happen when these capitalist hogs wake up though and find there are too many malls in the historic shells of once-useful buildings, too many to meet the small demand of the few who can eek their way into a city by car or bus on the overpacked roads where not a green thing is in sight. what then?

inside Haydarpasa Station: I can see why developers want it but how about retaining your beautiful historic resources as they were built to be used?

Foreclosure may put Monkeys in Straits

It’s not everyday that a skyscraper goes on the chopping block, or rather, the steps of the courthouse auction block, or is it? The news came yesterday over the morning radio that the 55-story Bank of America Plaza was going into foreclosure and would be auctioned off. The fact of this does not really concern me, if you look on Wikipedia, the current owners paid a hefty $436 million—$348 per square foot—for the building, well, it seems like a lot but I know nothing about buying skyscrapers.

What wikipedia will NOT tell you (anymore) about this building is that in the odd exposed-structure pyramidal top, monkeys dwell. It’s true, says J, a native of the Atlanta metro area who ought to know. Originally the pyramidal top was intended to be covered in glass, but, somehow, the weight of the glass was not taken into account in the construction and had to be left off. What was left was a pyramidal jungle gym perfect for monkeys and you can even hear them calling on late nights downtown. Listen for them next time you’re headed to the Fox.

So, foreclosure, what will this mean for the monkeys?