Designated: Landmark Building Exterior
179 Ponce de Leon Avenue, N.E.
Constructed: 1883 (remodeling and addition 1982)
Located on a wooded block between downtown Atlanta and the new skyscrapers at Midtown, the Edward C. Peters House is one of the finest and earliest surviving examples of domestic architecture from Atlanta's post-Civil War period. The Mansion site is all that remains of a 400- acre tract that stretched to the present site of Georgia Tech on the west to the Sears site on the east and from Crawford Long Hospital on the south to Piedmont Park on the north.
That the Peters House is a landmark of one of the most dynamic periods in Atlanta history is evident when one realizes that Atlanta is more closely tied to the "New South" than the "Old." Established as a railroad terminus only 24 years before the outbreak of the Civil War, Atlanta developed into a prosperous transportation and economic center within the "King Cotton" economy. Sherman's burning of the city in November of 1864 necessitated the complete rebuilding of the business district during Reconstruction. This was accomplished by returning former citizens, like the Peters family. Their house stands as a landmark of this vigorous era.
The first of the Peters family to be associated with Atlanta was Richard Peters, son of a well- known Philadelphia family. His grandfather, Judge Richard Peters, was Secretary of War during the Revolution; tiles around the dining room fireplace depict scenes from the exclusive Philadelphia Fish and Chowder Society founded by Judge Peters. After serving an apprenticeship with the noted architect William Strickland, Peters moved to Georgia in 1835 as an assistant engineer on the newly organized Georgia Railroad. He first visited Atlanta (then called Marthasville) in 1844 and in 1846 moved here permanently. In Atlanta, Peters was involved in railroad construction and management, the primary business concern of the young city, and real estate investment. Realizing the significance the city would have as a transportation center, he suggested changing its provincial name; a business associate coined the name Atlanta and Peters backed its usage. In 1871 Peters and George W. Adair organized the Atlanta Street Railway Co., the city's first. Initially horse-drawn and later electrically powered, the rail service opened up previously remote areas to residential settlement by the city's growing middle class. Both Peters and Adair owned the land to which the rails ran. As previously noted, Peters owned 400 acres of land immediately north of downtown. In 1878 his Atlanta Street Railway Company's Peachtree line carried passengers north to Ponce de Leon Avenue. By 1893, that line ran as far north as Eighth Street, traversing the entire length of Peter's property in land lot 49.
Upon his death in 1889, his son Edward C. Peters became trustee of the Peters estate. Edward, who was the first resident of the mansion, was a civic and business leader of Atlanta. In 1890 he formed the Peters Land Company, which developed many of the family holdings. He is primarily remembered for his association with the Peter's Park development scheme that included the land in the original 400 acre tract bought by his father. Peters served as a member of the Atlanta City Council and was later an Alderman. After Edward's death in 1937 the house passed on to his son Wimberly, and then to Wimberly's daughter Lucille, who lived in the house until her death in 1970. The house was sold at that time to Ponce de Leon Investors, Ltd.
THE EDWARD C. PETERS HOUSE
The Edward C. Peters House is an exceptionally well-preserved two and one-half story red brick mansion. Stylistically, its 1883 design by Gottfried L. Norrman is High Victorian Queen Anne with elements that strongly relate it to the Shingle Style that was popular in the eastern United States in this period.
The exterior, with exception of the unusually minor ornamental use of shingles, is Shingle Style especially in the organization of the design. The band of shingles which serves as a wide string course delineating the two floors is composed of terra cotta tiles. Easterners almost invariably used wood and clothed their houses with shingles.
Norrman has taken the picturesque aesthetic in hand. He has disciplined the Victorian's beloved variant of details, the irregular masses, silhouettes, and surfaces; has shown "skill in handling the asymmetrically balanced forms, exuberant roof lines, and variations in color and texture common to Queen Anne mode." Varied interior spaces are quite natural for a house of this type, and these extend out onto verandas or piazzas on the west and north facades.
The architect of the Peters House was Gottfried L. Norrman (1846-1909), a Swede, who practiced in Atlanta from about 1880 until his death. A recent study of Norrman's career reveals that he was not only an important local architect but that his work is of some significance to the general American development of this period. His late work indicates his knowledge of progressive forms and ideas stemming from Chicago School architects such as John Root and Louis Sullivan. In addition, his work of the eighties and nineties in the High Victorian styles demonstrates an unusual ability in organizing the irregular masses, surfaces, and variety of details common to these styles. The Peters House is an unusually fine example of a High Victorian residence, which shows skill in handling the asymmetrically balanced forms, exuberant roof lines, and variations in color and texture common to Queen Anne mode. The other major surviving structure designed by Mr. Norrman is Fountain Hall on Morris Brown campus, a National Historic Landmark.
Black, Nellie Peters. Richard Peters: His Ancestors and Descendants,1810- 1899 (Atlanta: Foote and Davis Company, 1904).
Garrett, Franklin M. Atlanta and Environs (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1954).
Lyon, Dr. Elizabeth A. "Business Buildings in Atlanta," Doctoral Dissertation, Emory University, 1971.
Malone, Dumas. Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1934).
Mitchell, William R., Jr. National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination Form, 1972.
Perkerson, Medora Field. "43 Years in One House," Atlanta Journal Magazine. December 9, 1928.
Scully, V.J. The Shingle Style (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955).
Group I (1) (2) (3)
The proposed nomination of Peters House meets the above-referenced criteria for a Landmark Building or Site as set out in Section 16-20.004 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Atlanta.