Home of The Atlanta Preservation Center
LP Grant Mansion
The selling price for the Grant Mansion was $109,900. The APC raised $140,000 to purchase the house and make it suitable for offices and moved its headquarters there in February 2002. In 2006 it completed the $140,000 stabilization of the historic walls and in 2007 bought an adjoining lot for $52,000 to return the property to its 1906 boundaries. Since 2008 the APC has reinstalled the floor and roof of the exposed east and west wings and repaired the historic windows. In 2011 the organization replaced the front and back porches of the house. House and grounds restoration and improvements are ongoing.
With assistance and generosity from L.P. Grant’s descendents, dedicated individuals and organizations, and a cadre of skilled crafts people, the house is being returned to its architecturally accurate origins. Here, indeed, is an outstanding example of hands-on preservation of which Atlantans can be proud.
The three-story, Italianate mansion was built in 1856 by Lemuel Pratt Grant (1817-1893), a city pioneer, railroad magnate and philanthropist who donated 100 acres to the city for Grant Park. Surviving the Civil War, the house was the 1902 birthplace of golf legend Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones and was at one time a passion of Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone with the Wind.
Beginning in the 1940s, neglect and fires took their toll on the buff stucco house with two-foot wide walls, 10-foot windows, nine fireplaces and a ballroom. Without its four porches and second story, part of the first floor was open to the elements. The house was an insult to its former self and its community.
“Most people want to know the history of the city, and this house can be used to explain how Atlanta grew through the accomplishments of L.P. Grant, who helped bring the railroad to Atlanta and make it a transportation hub,” said Grant Park resident Phil Cuthbertson, “For the Grant Park neighborhood, it is one more indication that it has a bright future.”
APC Executive Director Boyd Coons agrees that the preservation of the Grant Mansion will help the City build its heritage tourism appeal through the wide interest in history. “Antebellum, Civil War, Reconstruction and New South, Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones — the Grant Mansion has it all,” said Coons.
Lemuel P. Grant: From Railroad Eineer to City Builder and Philanthropist
Born in Frankfort, Maine, Lemuel Pratt Grant came to Atlanta in 1840 as a railroad engineer and over the next 40 years prospered as he built Georgia’s railroads and secured Atlanta’s place as a railroad center. Promoted through the ranks, he became president of the Atlanta and West Point Railway (1881-87) and the Western Railroad of Alabama (1883-87) and helped incorporate several other railroads along the way.
In 1843 Grant invested in land in what is now Southeast Atlanta, paying from $.75 to $2 an acre, and built his home in the center of his 600+ acres. It was 100 acres southeast of his mansion that he donated to the city for a park that would be open and available to city residents of any race, creed or color. Grant also gave land on Jenkins Street for Atlanta's first Black church, Bethel Church (now Big Bethel Baptist Church), and defended the church’s right to the property after the Civil War.
Grant joined the Confederate Army in 1862 and as chief engineer designed the defensive fortifications for the city, a portion of which survive nearby in Grant Park. It has been said that his house was spared in 1864 because Federal soldiers found a Masonic apron in a trunk in the attic, and Gen. William T. Sherman forbade the burning of things connected with the Masons.
After the Civil War, Grant worked hard to enhance life in his adopted city. He served as a member of the Atlanta City Council, Water Commission, Board of Education and committee to draft a new charter. In addition to giving the land for Grant Park in 1882, he sold the property for a public hospital where Grady now stands below market value and contributed thousands of dollars to it. Elected an honorary member of the Young Men’s Library Association, Grant donated an American Cyclopedia and funds for books. In addition, he was an active member of Central Presbyterian Church.
Grant was married to Laura L. Williams of Decatur for 36 years. Their four children were John A Grant, Myra Grant who married William B. Armstrong, Lemuel Pratt Grant Jr., and Lettie Grant who married George Logan. When Mrs. Grant died in 1879, he wrote: “My house escaped the torch which was so generally applied by Sherman’s hosts on leaving Atlanta. The surroundings are rather attractive, especially the lawn and grove in front. But the light of the household has left us for a better country, where wars and suffering shall never come. My dear wife died on the 25th of May last year…. The house is so desolate to me though filled with children and grandchildren, who vie with each other in kindness.”
In 1881 Grant married Jane L. Crew and moved to a house on Hill Street built by his son John. When Grant died in 1893, he was recognized as one of Atlanta’s “best friends, one of her noblest citizens and one of her chief benefactors” by The Atlanta Journal.
Post Grant: Mansion’s Distinguished Past and Exciting Future
After Grant’s death in 1893, the first Grant Mansion continued in the possession of his family. His grandson Bryan M. and wife shared their home with Mr. and Mrs. Robert P. Jones whose son Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones, the greatest amateur golfer in the world and winner of the grand slam in 1930, was born in 1902. The 1930’s tennis champion Bryan M. “Bitsy” Grant Jr. was Grant’s great-grandson.
In 1941 Margaret Mitchell loaned money to Boyd Taylor to buy the Grant Mansion for $3,000 and turn it into an Atlanta museum in order to preserve it. Six years later she sued Taylor, who was supposed to be the caretaker of the house, for letting it deteriorate further, but lost the suit.
“After a period of neglect and controversial treatment, we are proud to give this unique resource what is necessary for its return as a major representative of Atlanta’s historic past and as a home for Atlanta Preservation Center’s future,” said Boyd Coons, Executive Director of the Atlanta Preservation Center.