Almost a year ago, we featured the Rufus Rose House as an Over-the-Top Property of the Week. The $575K price dropped again to $339K and still failed to attract a buyer, so the 1901 Peachtree Street relic will be heading to the auction block July 21st. The minimum bid is $50,000, a small price to pay for such an unusual antique. For comparison, you could spend that much on this cell phone.
The Rose House has been the subject of angst for many in Atlanta's preservation community. After serving as a funky museum for years, the house has sat vacant since 2001. It's been listed on the Atlanta Preservation Center's Most Endangered Historic Places list twice, in 2007 and 2011. Although the house is protected by Landmark Building designation, it's suffered water damage as a result of roof damage. The house is important as the oldest survivor from Peachtree Street's residential era, which was cresting in this stretch by the time this house was built. Its tight townhouse-like configuration is the result of the little land that was available by 1901.
The only other Midtown/Downtown Peachtree Street homes to have made it out alive are the Wimbish House, Rhodes Hall, and the Castle (OK, the Castle's address is technically 15th Street but it might as well be Peachtree). It's a small list, so the loss of even one house would be devastating. Atlanta's lousy preservation record has left us only with photos and fragments of once great buildings, and these pale in comparison to experiencing the real thing.
But there is reason to think that the Rose House could come out on top. The situation is similar to that of the Castle, which was sold last August at auction. That eccentric Victorian, across the street from the High Museum on 15th Street, sat empty for decades and was for sale in early 2010 with a price tag of $2.2M. Brian Latham, a New York-based investor, won the Castle for $951,000. Concerned Atlantans can now rest easy knowing the house is in good hands, as Mr.Latham is committed to preservation. Plans have been rumored for a restaurant and possibly a small hotel in the structure, also known as Fort Peace. Let's hope a similar buyer is present come July 21.
The Rose House doesn't have as desirable a location as the Castle, but it could be a key component in the revitalization of its neighborhood, known as SoNo. Central Atlanta Progress nicknamed the area "South of North Avenue" as a way to market the stretch between Midtown and Downtown, which has been viewed as a kind of no man's land. The Rose House is a key landmark in a part of town lacking strong identity, making its survival all the more urgent. Its restoration would signal positive neighborhood change in the same way that SCAD's Ivy Hall has done at Ponce and Piedmont.
If you'd like to tour the home before it's sold, an open house is being held July 17th from 1-4 PM.