In 1894, the Atlanta Chapter aided in the social events of the Cotton States Exposition held in Piedmont Park. As an acknowledgement of those services, the Governor of Massachusetts presented that state’s Exposition Building known as the Craigie House to our chapter. The building was a replica of the Cambridge, MA, home where Henry Wadsworth Longfellow boarded. However, this gift was “less than a permanent home,” requiring them to meet in other locations. It deteriorated and was eventually sold for $400.
Fund raising for a new building began in 1903, and land was purchased fronting Piedmont Avenue. Plans were immediately laid for construction of a new facility, and the cornerstone for a new version of “Craigie House” was laid in 1910. The architectural plan, pragmatically adopted, filled the need for a meeting hall and deviated substantially from the original house. The ladies retained the name “Craigie House,” perhaps in respect for their original benefactors. Two members Eula Whatley Griffin (#19106), and her aunt Georgia Jenkins McMichael (#25143) each donated a stained glass window dedicated to the memory of their patriots—Lt. Samuel Knox and Capt.Thomas Heard. These were placed on either side of the front of the building. A third stained glass window was donated by the Regent Mrs. S.W. Foster (1908-10) to honor the founders of the Atlanta Chapter. This window showed the DAR insignia and was installed on an interior wall above and behind the speaker’s podium.
“Owing to financial condition(s), our contractor was forced to turn over to the Chapter an unfinished building. On June 14, 1911, this new Chapter House was opened.” Every year thereafter the Chapter spent considerable money to finish, replace, redecorate, up-grade heating, electrical and plumbing needs.
When storms raged and trees fell even greater needs had to be met. During those times the building had to be vacated, forcing the members to meet in homes or nearby churches.
With age the building continued to require considerable resources for roofing, landscaping and general repair. Reconstruction costs increased during the decade of the 1990s, rendering the restoration efforts of 2002-03 too grand for the Chapter to accomplish. After much effort was exerted to gather necessary funds, it was disappointing to all to realize that our ownership of Craigie House was near the end. A buyer came forth and ownership was transferred April 16, 2004. Proceeds from the sale established a financial reserve for the Chapter. The intent was to be able to fund expanded services and projects to meet the objectives of the National Society. Gifts from our friends in Massachusetts had changed from being a fixed asset to being a fluid asset for which we remain grateful.
From 2004 to 2014, Craigie House changed hands at least 2 other times. Each owner did nothing but remove more of the interior. When a winter storm came through Atlanta in February 2014, the weight of the snow and ice became too much for the roof, collapsing it along with the sides and back walls. An extensive history of the house was compiled by Tommy Jones for the Chapter in 1999 and updated in 2014.
Ultimately, the legacy of Craigie House has become the stained glass windows, which were removed before the house was sold. The windows remained in storage from 2003 until 2013, when the Chapter’s project was to remove the windows from storage, photograph them, and have a stained glass studio crate the windows for proper storage. Pictures were sent to President General Lynn Forney Young, who perceived their historical significance and their beauty. The task quickly changed to restoration for installation in the NSDAR headquarters. Delivery and installation was completed in May 2014, and the windows were dedicated on June 24, 2014 during the 123rd Continental Congress.
No information has been found on who painted the scenes in these windows. Scenes of this type were not done in the South in the 1890”s through the 1920’s. All we know is that the artists who painted these scenes were European trained, and that they were painted either in the Northeast or in Europe. As for the stained glass in all 3 windows, the glass and style was very typical of the 1890’s and early 1900’s in the South. The two painted glass scenes are copies of well-known oil paintings:
• Washington Crossing the Delaware was painted in 1851 by German-American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutz. There are many copies of this painting, but the most famous is located in the Metropolitan Museum Art in New York City.
• Siege of Yorktown was painted in 1836 by French artist Auguste Couder. This scene shows French General Rochambeau gesturing and Washington, with Lafayette behind his left shoulder, giving their final orders before the battle. The original painting is in Versailles.
Resources: Craigie House History Page by Tomitronics
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Last Updated: January 12th, 2017 by Webmaster