The Edward C. Peters House — originally called Ivy Hall — has a rich and remarkable history. It was designed by noted architect Gottfried L. Norrman and built in 1883. The 4,399 square-foot, two-and-one-half story residence is a rare and marvelous survivor of Atlanta’s past. The house stands in the heart of Atlanta’s Midtown cityscape of modern skyscrapers, highways and urban parks.
Architectural historians and preservationists have deemed the Peters House an important example of American architecture and one of the finest examples of Queen Anne-style architecture in the state of Georgia and the South. Revered as a tangible piece of Atlanta’s fast-disappearing architectural history, the Peters House is the oldest, most complete and single most important representation of Atlanta’s storied New South period.
The Peters family was responsible not only for the shaping of Midtown Atlanta but also for the creation of the Peters Park area, part of a 400-acre tract of land owned by Richard Peters. Richard’s son, Edward Peters, donated part of the land to serve as the original 1885 campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Edward Peters was a financier and president of the Atlanta Street Railway Company. He was among the city officials who laid the first paving stone for Atlanta’s streets in June 1882. He served on the city council for decades and also served as a county commissioner and alderman. Edward Peters avidly supported the extension of Atlanta’s city limits in 1904 from Sixth to 15th streets and was instrumental in the city’s annexation and purchase of Piedmont Park.
The Peters House survived the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917 when dozens of homes between Ponce de Leon and North avenues were dynamited as a firebreak to save mansions and homes in the surrounding area. More than 70 city blocks were destroyed during the fire. The house was nearly demolished in 1971, but was saved by the Victorian Society of America. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places the following year.
The Peters House was purchased by Bill Swearingen and Bill Dunaway and converted into The Mansion restaurant in 1973. A remodel and addition by designer Alan Salzman garnered an Atlanta Urban Design Commission award that same year. During the Centennial Olympic Games, the restaurant was rented as a hospitality suite to the German Olympic delegation. The house has remained vacant and unused since a debilitating upper-level fire in 2000.
The Peters House was designated an Atlanta Landmark Building by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission in 1989 and was listed among the most endangered buildings in Atlanta in 2001 and 2003 by the Atlanta Preservation Center. It was selected as one of 12 historic homes in Atlanta featured as a historic tourist destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Edward C. Peters House is highly significant for its preserved architecture, which exemplifies the new Queen Anne style that was developed in England in the 1870s. The distinctive style also came into fashion in the United States in the late 19th century. The Peters House is one of the finest and earliest examples of Queen Anne-style architecture in America.
Characteristics of the house that embody the Queen Anne architectural style include the asymmetrical façade, the use of half timbering in the gables and other decorative details such as verge boards, carved wood panels, brackets and embellished turned posts on the porches and balconies. Two great cross gables form the basic floor design, and bay windows articulate the exterior. No stained glass was used in the home, but the windows are ornamented with large central panes surrounded by smaller square and rectangular plates. Massive pocket doors reinforce the openness of the floor plan.
Terracotta shingles divide the first and the second floors as a stringcourse, which also adds texture to the red brick façade. The massive brick porte-cochere, or carriage door, features heavy Romanesque arches. The semicircular porch facing Ponce de Leon Avenue is fitted with pilasters adorned with grand foliate capitals.
Interior features include dark wood paneling, decorative fireplace surrounds with Japanese influence, a carved pulpit on the landing level, tooled leather and tiles in the dining room.
Early, non-Queen Anne-style additions to the home include a glassed-in upper-level sun porch and the addition of an Otis elevator, which is reported to be the earliest residential elevator in the state of Georgia.