The owner of the Thornton House mansion has received city permission to rebuild a historic wall and gate topped with rooster statues that was designed by famous Atlanta architect Phillip Trammell Shutze.
The approval of owner Robin Fowler’s plans for the 205 West Paces Ferry Road mansion, which he is rehabilitating, came over the objections of a neighbor who fears the wall will block her sunlight.
“This is a very unique opportunity to complete the vision of one of our city’s most celebrated architects, Phillip Trammell Shutze,” Charlie Sears, the project manager and landscape architect working on the project, said at the June 1 meeting of the Board of Zoning Adjustment. Shutze is best known as the designer of the Swan House mansion at the Atlanta History Center.
The owner, Robin Fowler, will build a six-foot privacy wall where only four-foot walls are allowed and top 14-foot posts with rooster statues. The wall will be opaque in most places, but will be an iron picket fence in some places to accommodate existing trees.
The original rooster statues were found by Fowler on his property, and he later found Shutze’s plan for the wall at the Atlanta History Center. He would like to build a wall similar to that plan. Yong Pak, an Atlanta architect who has worked with Shutze designs previously, has drawn plans based on his interpretation of Shutze’s designs, Sears said.
Sears said Fowler has the support of 12 surrounding neighbors, the Atlanta History Center and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
But one neighbor, Mary Harrison, who lives directly across the street from Fowler, opposes the plan. She said at the meeting that she is concerned the wall will drive down her property’s value. The wall will also block light to her property and add noise, she said, as West Paces Ferry is a busy road.
“They are going to put up a wall that is six feet tall and will run almost the length of a football field,” Harrison said at the meeting, calling for a shorter version as a compromise.
City planning department staff members said the wall will not block the passage of light to other properties, but Harrison disagreed. Her home is downhill from Fowler’s house and she currently can only see the construction tarp when she looks out her window, she said.
“I would welcome them to stand in my house and see,” said Harrison, who has lived in her house for 30 years. “The six-foot wall covers almost the entire frontage of my piece of property. Everything in front of my home will be a six-foot, white wall.”
Harrison said she has met with Fowler to try to convince him to compromise and make the wall lower, but he refused.
Ultimately, the board approved the plan unanimously based on NPU-B’s and the city planning staff’s recommendation for approval. Martha Porter Hall, the board’s vice chair, said she appreciates the restoration project and while she understands a concern for building walls, the road already has many.
“Atlanta is known for having a tendency for disrespecting historical precedent, so it’s always exciting when we see somebody trying to maintain that,” Hall said.