The nearly century-old Whispering Pines mansion on Buckhead’s West Paces Ferry Road has been torn down despite efforts by residents and preservationists to save it.
The demolition followed the sale of the property by Atlanta-based The Macallan Group to a newly formed Athens-based company, Westlake WPH Holding LLC. What Westlake WPH Holding LLC plans for the site is not yet known.
“Whispering Pines was one of the iconic West Paces Ferry estate homes,” Atlanta Councilmember Mary Norwood said in a written statement. “I am heartsick that we have lost it.”
The Macallan Group purchased Whispering Pines and several adjacent parcels at the intersection of West Paces Ferry Road and Northside Drive as part of an 11-acre assemblage. The company planned to build a cul-de-sac with eight new single-family homes. But neighborhood groups, the Atlanta Preservation Center and Norwood entered talks with the group to see if there was a way to save the mansion built in 1928.
The Macallan Group filed for and received a demolition permit for Whispering Pines in May, city records show. The company then let Norwood and others know in an Aug. 22 email that despite their talks, it had sold the property and would no longer be involved in its development. Crews showed up the next day, Aug. 23, and began tearing down Whispering Pines.
“The Macallan Group believes that the sale of the property will provide a fresh look at different development options for this site, and they look forward to seeing how the land will ultimately be developed in the future,” said Mike Minutelli, co-founder and managing Partner of The Macallan Group, in an email.
Whispering Pines was built in 1928 by renowned architectural firm Pringle & Smith and was the home of Harrison Jones, chairman of the board of Coca-Cola, and then his son Gordon Jones, president of Fulton National Bank.
“Many areas in our city have protections for their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, my own Council District, District 8, does not,” Norwood said.
“Neighborhoods in Buckhead have tried to get protections – beginning in 1974 with West Paces Ferry, and then my own neighborhood of Tuxedo Park in 1990,” she said. “This [demolition of Whispering Pines] is the result. All of us who care about Atlanta – its history, its architectural treasures, and its beautiful neighborhoods—are devastated with this loss.”
David Yoakley Mitchell, executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center, said the demolition of Whispering Pines should be a “sobering moment” for everyone in Atlanta.
“This is not this is not just one part of the city,” he said. “This is a city issue, and we need to start having our values for our communities really made apparent, including protections.
“Each community is going to be represented by different architecture, by different structures, by different spaces,” Mitchell said. “But the collection is what gives Atlanta its identity. These are not simply old buildings or old structures that we keep out of some sense of guilt, but we maintain and preserve out of duty to make sure that people understand who and what we are now and forever.”
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