A Buckhead family is in high spirits despite losing the main part of its historic home to a fire Tuesday.
Gerry Hull, owner of the house designed by renowned architect Neel Reid, said it will be rebuilt in the same design. The main part of the house, which is about 7,000 square feet, is a total loss, but the two additions on each end were mostly saved, he said.
According to William R. Mitchell Jr.’s book, “J. Neel Reid: Architect of Hentz, Reid and Adler and the Georgia School of Classicists,” the home was built for Cam Dorsey in 1923 and ’24.
“I’m going to put up a big sign, 6 feet tall, to say, ‘Sorry for the inconvenience. Neel Reid’s house will rise again, like the Phoenix,’" Hull said. "We have the original plans for Neel Reid and we have all the drawings and plans for the work that has been done subsequent to Neel Reid, so it will be put up so you won’t be able to tell the difference.”
Despite reports the fire started in the attic, Hull said it began at about 6:15 p.m. by a roofer who had been working on the home. He did not know the roofer’s name.
“He was applying some asphalt material and had a propane torch to melt it in and it caught fire on the eaves overhang,” Hull said. “He thought he put it out. It smoldered for a while and got really going. It was mainly in the attic because it’s very difficult to put out because you can’t get to it, so the roof falls in. ... It clearly was an accident.”
No one was injured in the fire. Hull lives in the home with his wife Patricia, daughter Anna, 16, dog Maxwell and cat Samantha. They have two adult children: Gerry Jr. and Peg. He said no one was home at the time of the fire except a woman who lives with her husband as a guest in a garage apartment on the other side of the property.
The home’s address is 2 Vernon Road but because it also has a driveway on Habersham Road, the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department sent its units there first before realizing it had better access to a fire hydrant on Vernon.
Hull said he and his family have been overwhelmed with well wishes from the community.
“I think our friends are having more difficulty than we are,” he said. “It’s obviously a terrible loss, but our spirits are good and we’re going to rebuild the place. The pieces that are irreplaceable, like art and objects of sentimental value can never be replaced. I’m shocked at the outpouring of thoughts and support from so many people. It just struck me. ... We’ve got more friends than we realized we had.”