The Castle of Ansley Park


The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation has once again come out with their list of buildings that are in danger of being lost due to progress and lack of public will to save them. Once again one of our local architectural marvels has its head on the chopping block, and it resides atop a small hill dwarfed to the left and to the right by the towering Promenade one and two buildings on 15th street, just off Peachtree Street. The building in trouble is Fort Peace, alternately, and more commonly known as “the Castle.”

This building has particular importance to me for no special reason other than I pass by it frequently on my way from the Arts Center MARTA going either to the High Museum or Piedmont Park for one of the various festivals. I’ve taken a few pictures of it along the way, not knowing its history or import, just because its sits majestically on its perch amongst so much modern skyline . It is such a fascinating structure that I always simply assumed that it was part of the Woodruff Arts Complex.

The Castle was built by its owner, Ferdinand McMillan, a wealthy Agricultural Supplier originally from Florida. He built it with no formal training and no architectural background, simply deciding to do what he thought felt right. And I have to agree, it just sort of feels right where it is.

The base is made of Stone Mountain granite, which at one point had turrets and windows and artistry. There is no real front door to the building, except for what look like stable doors on the 15th street side. Now, I’ve never been inside the poor building, but you can see some nice photos of the inside here. Apparently, the inside is greatly influenced by McMillan’s love of Joel Chandler Harris’ tales and gardening.

I was right about it once being part of the High Museum Group, housing at times teachers, curators and artists. It would seem they would be a logical group to step in and save the building, but time will tell. The City of Atlanta reported a few years back that it was to be saved as part of AT&T’s promenade project, so the city should divulge what promises were made and which weren’t kept. In case they change the quote to make me look stupid, you can see the story referenced by Bloglanta back in 2005. And here it is in entirety directly from the City of Atlanta Website:

Fortunately for the city, the house was not vandalized and, in an exemplary instance of corporate support for historic preservation, is now being redeveloped by AT& T as part of its new Promenade project.

I think it should survive just to remind us what we all need to hear from time to time, that is the words of the nutty architect itself:

Men and women become so used to imitations or so afraid of ridicule that they liveout their lives borrowing ideas and expressions and habits, which before (themselves) had been borrowed.

At least, that's the lesson I see every time I pass Fort Peace.

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