The Donaldson-Bannister Farmhouse will be open to the public soon — after stabilization of the historic house and demolition of the non-historic barn is complete, members of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust say.
City Council on Aug. 24 approved a $167,500 bid from Midwest Maintenance for installation of new supporting floor joists, support beams and rear wall replacement, based on a structural engineer’s report on the city-owned home.
Dolores Lauderdale, co-president of the presentation trust, which has partnered with the city to restore the property, said the renovation project was scheduled to begin this month and should be completed in October.
Jim Williams, vice president of properties with the trust, said the process to schedule various kinds of work at the same time has been tricky. The project includes strengthening the house and demolishing the barn.
“I do know the permit for the demolition for the rear part of the barn has been awarded and that part will be done,” Williams said. “I would say 90 percent chance it will be done in 30 days.”
One of the two directors of the property, Clare Weaver, said this project has been years in the making and she’s excited to see the work begin. Along with Jane Henley, Weaver said she has worked on the project to restore the house since the preservation trust got involved four years ago.
“It’s exciting to see this finally start to happen,” Weaver said. “After stabilizing the house we can open it to the citizens of Dunwoody. It’s been a long time coming and I’m looking forward to it.”
A step-by-step evaluation of the property helped members of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust understand what should be saved and what should be demolished, said Lauderdale, who has been involved with the organization for a decade.
Lauderdale said the front part of the house, the part facing Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, is what is considered historic, and what was listed on the National History Register in 2008.
“I was excited to see it will get saved, but it will take $4 million to $5 million [to do everything needed],” Lauderdale said.
The goal is to get the house open to the public, Williams said.
“I think the key thing is to know this house is a public park, and it will be a public park for citizens of Dunwoody and the community at large,” Williams said.
The trust plans to host a variety of education programs at the house. Williams said neighbors want to see the property and house put to use, and the plan to stabilize the floor will allow people to use the building.
Williams said through the renovation, the city and trust are adding bathrooms, space for an educational facility for kindergarten through eighth-grade students and an event facility that could potentially be used for weddings. The facility also will include a multi-function room and an area to gather groups of people, he said.
When the current phase of the renovation is completed, the nonprofit plans to continue working on additional grant applications from both the city and other organizations to continue work on the property.
“We certainly have a tremendous outpouring of volunteers and we’re always looking for more,” Williams said. “A lot of the work will be broken down into mini-projects that volunteers can help with and take pride in the work.”