By Susie Mesure
The house at 955 Wendover Drive, Atlanta, dates from 1920. Its location, though, does not.
Over the course of three months in 1956, the elegant colonial style property, currently on the market for $1.6m, was moved 100 yards, inch by inch, furniture and all, to its existing spot. “They took the house in its entirety, with both porches, put it on scaffolding, turned it around and pulled it with a truck to its current site,” says Tony Brewer, who bought the place in 1993 with his wife, Carey.
The alternative was demolition: the original site was a prime lot on Peachtree Road, a major Atlanta thoroughfare. Developers bought it, planning to bulldoze the house to make way for condominiums. When the tenant renting the house got wind of this, he begged the developers to help him save the property.
“After a couple of months they finally said, ‘OK, if you move it, we will give you the house because we have an expense in tearing it down.’ So he bought the lot behind and moved it to this site,” says Tony, who learnt the history from a neighbour whose husband had photographed the entire endeavour. The condos went up, as planned.
“The story goes that the house, which has seven fireplaces, was moved with all the furniture inside and all the dishes in the cabinets. The only repercussion we saw was that the front door kind of sloped so we remedied that,” says Carey. “The original property was higher than this one, so they were able to inch it down a hill.”
The Brewers, who are moving to Carey’s native South Carolina, spent 18 months renovating the three-storey house to its original 1920s splendour, complete with claw-footed cast iron bathtub, pedestal sinks, and woodwork trims made by the same lumber company, Randall Brothers, that supplied the moulding for most of Atlanta’s grand houses in the 1920s.
“We had to bring in a crane and build an indoor railroad track to roll the tub into its place in the master bath,” says Tony, an entrepreneur who used to own a payment services company. The couple say they doubled the liveable space in the basement, which was added after the property was moved, to around 2,000 square feet. As well as a pantry, laundry and craft room, there is now a wine cellar modelled on one the Brewers saw in Paris. The third storey was also extended: a fifth bedroom and extra bathroom were added to the existing billiards room.
The seven fireplaces make the house particularly cosy in winter. “People say it’s the perfect Christmas house because of how we decorate it [with] the age, facade, door casings, fireplaces and high ceilings all contributing to the charm. We’ve had as many as seven Christmas trees [at once]. We’ve done a lot of entertaining; there is space comfortably for 100 people,” says Tony. The previous owner’s daughter held her wedding in the back garden, where there is a heated swimming pool, as did a family friend.
The neighbourhood is part of Historic Brookhaven in Buckhead, an affluent district some dub “The Beverly Hills of the south”. Despite having historical designation, the area has seen significant development in the past three decades, says Carey. “We used to be the biggest house on the street but now we’re right in there with the rest of them,” she says.
Still, thanks to its earlier move, the home retains a secluded feel. “We’re in an area where we have over 600 retail stores within walking distance and yet we have almost an acre of property and it’s so quiet you can’t hear or see any of it.”
Photography: Realtor.com; Bill Scott