Moving Day for the Randolph-Lucas House Approaches
Once in peril of being destroyed, preparations to move and preserve the historic Atlanta home are underway.
There’s an old saying that moving is among the most stressful occurrences in a person’s life. Despite all your planning, there’s never enough bubble wrap and you’re inevitably throwing things in garbage bags when the movers arrive. Imagine how Christopher Jones and Roger Smith, the new owners of Atlanta’s Randolph-Lucas house, feel as they ready themselves for the biggest move of their lives. All the preparations in the world couldn’t possibly prepare them for the pending monumental and historic move.
An Exclusive Peak Inside the Randolph-Lucas HouseView All 26 Photos
Jones and Smith are the angels in Ansley Park who saved the iconic home, which was featured in the Anne River Siddons novel Peachtree Road. Built in 1924 the 7,000-square-foot Georgian-Revival structure was built for Thomas Jefferson’s great-great-grandson Hollins Randolph. For decades the home sat while other buildings around it were bulldozed to make way for high-rises and condos, much like the home in Disney’s Oscar-winning animated film Up. It once acted as an event hall for the 2500 Peachtree Road Condominiums located directly behind it, but the structure was deemed unsound and the association decided to raze it.
That is when the Buckhead Heritage Society stepped in and offered the home free of charge to anyone with a plan to move it. A free house, you say? Sounds too good to be true, right? In a lot of ways — about 1.4 million of them — it is.
“The cost of moving the utilities alone almost broke the bank,” said Jones from his modest bungalow in Ansley Park. “We managed to negotiate those prices, acquire the perfect lot and develop a solid business plan. The bank accepted and here we are.”
It helped that Jones has a 20-year background in historic preservation and neighborhood economic development. It also helped that he had the blessing of his longtime partner, Smith.
“We were still second-guessing the decision to take on this project until we took my 83-year-old mother through the home,” said Smith. “She looked at us and said, ‘Boys, you have to do this.’ That was enough for us.”
In an effort to preserve the home’s heritage and authenticity, the demo crew is carefully removing interior and exterior details — every beam, every brick, all the crown molding and mantels — and moving them to the new location. They are even saving all salvageable subway tiles in the bath. The kitchen will be completely updated and modernized though the design will complement the rest of the house.
“The reason we wanted the house was for all these materials. Ripping them out and trashing them makes no sense at all to us,” said Jones. “We’ll even have a historic easement in place at the new location so that it will hopefully never be in peril again.”
To move the home, it will be horizontally sawed in half, lifted by cranes, placed on flatbeds and taken to its new home approximately 2 miles away. Moving day is tentatively scheduled for the wee hours of September 21, 2013. The relocation of overhead utility lines is required as well as the construction of a temporary road through the vacant lot across from the High Museum, which will be viewable from the home’s back windows.
“We got lucky that this lot was available and none of the hardwoods will be disturbed,” said Smith. “Our hope is that it looks like it’s been sitting there forever.”