The historic Goodwin House on Peachtree Road in Brookhaven is now being dismantled with plans to rebuild it and relocate it to another city location.
The white, wood frame house that dates back to the 1830s and which owners claim to be the oldest house in DeKalb County, is now nothing more than a small foundation with a bare frame and stone fireplace still standing. Logs are piled where an expansive porch once stood and piles of debris surround the otherwise bucolic land where squirrels run and hide in the piles and birds sing from overhanging tree branches.
“I’m very sad to see it go,” said Albert Martin, whose family has owned the house for more than seven generations. “But there was no remediation on taxes, no resources to preserve it. We couldn’t get any tax breaks and there was no way to rent it.”
Most people who drive the busy Peachtree Road corridor don’t even know it is is there — the house is hidden behind tall pines and magnolias. From Peachtree Road, passers-by see only a small driveway between the U-Haul store and Subway sandwich shop. Its original site is occupied by a motel. The MARTA tracks run behind the house.
Martin said the only way to save the house is to carefully dismantle it, particularly the log cabin section of the home, and store the logs so it can be reproduced and relocated to another location, hopefully in Brookhaven. However, where that will be is still unknown, he said.
“It’s being dismantled and then moved … it will be reassembled with modifications to make it usable in the near future,” he said. Martin said there is preliminary talk of moving the house into Brookhaven Park.
“Doing this [dismantling it] was the only way we could think to save the house,” Martin said.
At one time it was part of a 600-acre farm, but now the house on Peachtree Street in Brookhaven is all that’s left. The house sits on more than an acre of commercial property on Peachtree Road and for years the Martin family has struggled with what to do with it. The house has been for sale since at least 2008 when it was put on the market for $3.5 million.
The history of the house from its website states:
In what was once Creek Indian land, the area’s first white settler was Harris Goodwin, a South Carolinian who homesteaded a tract on both sides of what is now Peachtree Road in the early 1830s. Harris Goodwin later brought his father, Solomon, to the area. The Goodwin home and a small graveyard in which they are buried survive at 3931 Peachtree Road near the intersection of North Druid Hills Road.
The original log cabin on the Echota Indian Trail was expanded in the 1830s and 1840s into the present home. In 1864, it was a landmark for Federal troops closing in on Atlanta during the Civil War. Goodwin descendants still own the property. The home is the oldest existant house in DeKalb County.
It’s like losing a close relative. The Goodwin House on its original site pervades my childhood memories from the 1950’s. The original cabin was built in 1831, just six years after the Muscogee/Creek Nation ceded its lands to white settlers. Plans to move the house near the historic Fischer Mansion on Chamblee Dunwoody Road were scuttled by the D’Youville HOA. We all deserve a past, a present, and a future. This important of our past needs to be preserved at all costs!!
I’ve always thought that the undeveloped acreage on NDH right in front of CKHS would be the perfect, high profile spot to preserve this historical structure and the story of Georgia history on a local scale. Perhaps the family, the City, and DeKalb Schools can begin such a dialog as part of their proposed plans for a new high school to be constructed in the next few years. Much thanks to the Martin family for keeping the monument alive all these years at great sacrifice!
When I was a small child, my mother would bring me by the old house; and I’d get to speak to the old man there. He showed me the old cemetery and let me play with his cats. It is a very sad thing that the “city” of Brookhaven could not comprehend the value of such a historic site.
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