A report commissioned by a company planning to develop a 2.4-acre tract on Mitchell Road concludes a church and barn on the property aren’t historically significant and aren’t Civil War relics.

Developer Arrowhead Real Estate/The Columns Group released a report about the property at 5975 Mitchell Road on May 17. The Sandy Springs Planning Commission recommended the City Council defer the matter at its next meeting so the commission can take it up again on June 21.

The developer wants to turn the site into 14 single family homes. St. James Anglican Church sits on the property, but the church has closed. Neighbors have opposed the development, largely because of space and traffic concerns.

The church’s website claims it was built as a farmhouse in the 1860s. The historic nature of the property has been a background issue, but struck a chord with former members of the church who think it has historic value. The group has set up the “Save Saint James Anglican Church” Facebook page.

But is it worth saving? The consultant hired by the developer provides evidence it might not have any historical significance.

“Based on the type, style elements, and building materials, the core of the house was built or moved to its location in the 1920s and a rear edition added immediately,” the consultant’s report says. “A second rear addition and side addition were constructed in the late 20th century, probably at the same time the house was renovated for use as a church. The barn appears to be contemporaneous.”

Because of the modifications and renovations, the house doesn’t qualify for the National Register of Historic places, the report concludes.

The report, written by Beth Gantt of R.S. Webb & Associates, a cultural resources consulting firm, attempts to reconcile conflicting details about the property. The report cites a recent Sandy Springs Reporter article in which two local historians offered different takes on whether the buildings were constructed in the 1860s or the 1920s.

By examining old maps and aerial photographs, the investigation said by 1938 a photograph did not show a clearly visible house and barn, but said it could’ve been obscured by trees.

The group trying to save the church said the report’s conclusions are wrong, and said they would keep fighting the proposed development.

“We are not giving up and will keep you all updated,” the group said on its Facebook page.

Jerry Erbesfield, president of the Ridgemere Homeowners Association, told the Planning Commission the homeowners are still working with the developer to resolve the issues they have with the project.

“We would like to give [the developer] a delay to try to work out our differences,” he said.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com