A historic site in Tucker has made the 2016 top 10 Places in Peril list by The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Johns Homestead site, located at 3071 Lawrenceville Highway in Tucker, was built between 1829 and 1832 on a 200-acre land grant received by the Johns family in 1827. Johns family descendants farmed the land until the 1980s, said Dave Butler, DeKalb County’s greenspace environmental manager, in a 2014 interview with The Champion.
When the family vacated the house in the 1980s, it was one of the longest continually occupied structures in DeKalb County. The historic farmhouse still stands on the property. As the Johns family grew, the family added on to the original structure and built a second home, Butler said.
“We ended up tearing that down because it was in bad shape,” Butler said.
According to The Georgia Trust, other historic structures remain in various states of disrepair and “budget cuts have left the site largely neglected and unsecured, resulting in vandalism.”
In 2004, DeKalb County purchased the last 23 acres of the Johns family property at a cost of $4.72 million with plans of building a park at the site. In 2006, the county purchased the adjoining Twin Brothers Lakes property for $2.31 million, making the park approximately 50 acres in all, including other smaller acquisitions.
The Georgia Trust’s Places in Peril list “is designed to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy,” according to a news release by the organization.
The Georgia Trust uses the list to “encourage owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ proven preservation tools, financial resources and partnerships in order to reclaim, restore and revitalize historic properties that are in peril,” according to the news release.
The main house of the Johns Homestead is “a rare example of a single pen turned saddlebag house type,” according to the Georgia Trust.
The property contains many late 19th century and early 20th century outbuildings and a historically significant dairy building.
According to the Georgia Trust, the dairy building was constructed of “rammed-earth, an ancient construction technique that became popular in the United States during the 1800s.” Very few buildings of this type remain in Georgia, and Johns Homestead contains the only documented one in the state.
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