Workers Spotted on Site of Midtown’s “Castle”

What former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young called a “hunk of junk” is now being returned to its former glory.

Photo by Holly Aguirre Former Mayor Andrew Young once called this Atlanta structure “a hunk of junk,” fighting words in the preservationist community. 

About this time of year, there’s electricity in the Atlanta air that makes us think anything can happen. The humidity that slows us during the summer months gives way to the fresh possibilities of fall. So imagine our excitement when we spotted at least 15 hardhatted workers on location at the Midtown Castle earlier this week, a structure that somehow skirted the wrecking ball for years in spite of harsh criticism from city officials. 

The Castle’s savior is Bryan “Mike” Latham, a New York architect, who bought the house at auction for about $950,000 after it had gone into foreclosure. Though it once hosted various art groups such as the Atlanta Writers Club, it has been sitting empty and boarded up for more than a decade. Former Mayor Andrew Young called it “a hunk of junk,” fighting words in the preservationist community. 

Photo by Holly Aguirre Many of the home's shutters are missing and the columns on the front porch must be replaced. 

The 12,000-square-foot hunk sits on 15th Street dwarfed behind two of Atlanta’s tallest skyscrapers, the unmistakable shimmering Symphony Tower with its bat-ears roof and the overpowering Papa Bear Promenade II building. The Castle was built in 1910 for an eclectic man named Ferdinand McMillan as a retirement home. Christening the property Fort Peace, McMillan wanted it to reflect his own whimsical style, resulting in uniquely shaped porches — some curve while others are squared. Scalloped shingled siding was paired with red-brick columns and a fortress-like wall surrounds the whole structure. The only thing missing is a gator-filled moat. It is truly one of the most original pieces of architecture in Atlanta.

Latham is converting the home into an old-school London-style pub of sorts with a restaurant, bar and high-end sleeping quarters, and does not want to see much about the Castle change. He’s already reportedly invested more than $1 million to secure the structure and has vowed to keep the walls in the same place though he plans on adding a 2,000-square-foot kitchen. It is estimated that another $3 million will be spent on the interior and exterior cosmetic improvements. 

Photo by Holly Aguirre Situated between two skyscrapers and a mid-rise, the historic home is also surrounded by the original fortress-like wall. 

Atlanta’s preservationists could not be more thrilled and must be high-fiving over their Earl Grey. 

“This was a major historic building in the city in a very, very prominent spot that was being allowed to fall in,” Boyd Coons, executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center, told the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “We’re extremely grateful that [Latham] got it and is putting so many resources into stabilizing it and trying to make it a viable part of Atlanta’s fabric again.”  

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