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Column: Windows find their way to Washington
by Thornton Kennedy
Columnist
August 27, 2014 02:44 PM | 2131 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thornton Kennedy
Thornton Kennedy
slideshow
Stained-glass windows dedicated
Special Photo / The Atlanta chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the organization’s second oldest chapter, built Craigie House in 1911 as a meeting place, the first chapter to have its own chapter house. The February snowstorm caused the roof to collapse, leaving only the front facade. However, the three stained glass windows were removed when the house was sold by the Atlanta chapter in 2004. The windows have been in storage for 10 years. From left, Lynn F. Young, president general of the National Society of the DAR and Trudy F. Alexander, past regent for its Atlanta chapter, stand next to one of the three windows at a dedication ceremony in Washington. They were recently restored and installed in the National Society of DAR in Washington, and were dedicated during the recent Continental Congress in Washington. This window shows a high-quality copy of the Siege of Yorktown. The original was painted by Auguste Couder in 1836 and is in Versailles.
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What remains of the Craigie House on Piedmont Road in Midtown is propped up by a few pieces of wood.

Without them the final piece of the former Daughters of the American Revolution Atlanta chapter’s headquarters, which can be traced back to the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, could fall to the ground. A majority of the historic structure did just that as a result of the severe snow and ice storms that slammed Atlanta in February. All that remains are the brick facade and signature white columns.

Earlier this summer three stained-glass windows from the headquarters depicting significant historic events were dedicated to the National Society of DAR in Washington, where they will be preserved in perpetuity.

The Craigie House is no more in Buckhead than the White House, I realize, but I am writing about it this week for two reasons. First, the DAR’s Atlanta chapter curator, Trudy Alexander, was kind enough to share this unique story with me. Second, like many readers, I have a personal connection to the chapter. My grandmother, Mary Adair Bird, was a member and I am certain that she attended meetings at 1204 Piedmont Road.

What remains of the more than 100-year-old house is directly across the street from the entrance to the Piedmont Driving Club. For more than two decades, the home languished unused and unsafe, all but falling in on itself. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It takes its name is from the historic Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House in Cambridge, Mass., which dates back to 1795. The faux-Craigie House was built in what is now Piedmont Park specifically for the exposition as an exhibit. Not much of the original survived. But in 1911, with the same name and a few boards and bricks from the copy structure, the DAR headquarters opened.

The building served the DAR until the late 1990s, when time caught up with it and it was deemed unsafe. While the building itself was lost, there resided in it three works of historic art that were saved.

When the Atlanta chapter of the DAR sold the home in 2004, it took three nearly 100-year-old stained-glass windows depicting the Siege of Yorktown based on a painting by August Couder, Washington Crossing the Delaware based on the iconic painting by Emanuel G. Leutze and the DAR insignia.

After the windows spent the last 10 years in storage, chapter representatives moved them to Washington.

The fate of what remains of the DAR headquarters remains in the balance, but at least some of those original artifacts have found a place where they will be appreciated by generations to come.

Buckhead resident Thornton Kennedy is a former news editor of this paper and can be reached at thorntonkennedy@me.com.
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