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Atlanta’s historic Grant Mansion gets a new doorway from the past to the present
(Saporta Report) – The grand front doorway of Atlanta’s historic L.P. Grant Mansion has been freshly reconstructed in the embodiment of preservation metaphors about portals to the past.
The project “creates that natural gateway from the past to look at the future,” says David Yoakley Mitchell, executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center (APC), which calls the 1856 Grant Park mansion home and has spent the past 22 years rehabilitating it from near-demolition.
Another metaphor is welcoming the community into what, in many ways, is the home of preservation in Atlanta. Because it took an eclectic community to pull off this part of the mansion’s rescue – including journalists in the 1960s and today’s archivists, restorers and, crucially, kindly neighbors who returned a long-lost piece of hand-painted glass.
Where symbolism and reality really overlap is the endless transition of time from past to present, which makes preservation work neverending and leaves its practitioners still knocking at certain mysteries – in this case, the age of the door itself, which may or may not go back to pre-Civil War times.
The mansion at 327 St. Paul Ave. has played a unique role in the history of the city and its preservation movement. Construction of the three-story Italianate home began in 1854 under the direction of Lemuel Grant, a railroad engineer who became a major real estate speculator and political figure in early Atlanta who donated the land for what is now Grant Park. On behalf of the Confederate city in the Civil War, he led the planning of its fortifications, in which his mansion ended up virtually on a battle line when Atlanta fell in 1864. The home also served as a Confederate hospital.
Spared destruction that affected much of the city under Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, the mansion is believed to be the only pre-war structure that survives in its original location within…