Once home to grand parties thrown by the eccentric son of a Coca-Cola co-founder, a storied but abandoned Druid Hills mansion built nearly a century ago may one day welcome visitors again.
Preliminary plans to restore the now Emory-owned mansion into a “boutique hotel and event venue” were presented by Michael Mandl, president and CEO of Mandl & Co., and developer Jerry Daws of Republic Property at a community meeting Thursday evening.
The proposal would restore the mansion to its historical significance, said Mandl, who was executive vice president of business and administration at Emory until this month.
"It would certainly serve Emory's mission," Mandl said.
Yet he was careful to explain that it’s a process. Plans are being negotiated, and approval would be needed from multiple boards before anything is finalized.
For nearly two decades, the property that Asa Candler Jr. had built in 1920 has sat empty and quietly rotting away in Druid Hills. There was fear that it would be demolished.
But the proposal, as part of a long-term ground lease between the developer and Emory, would include restoration of the grounds, investments to restore the mansion and the installation of cabins that would provide about 50 rooms for guests.
The property would be an urban oasis for dignitaries visiting the area, according to Mandl.
This is potentially good news for historic preservationists, as until now there’s been no viable way to restore the deteriorating mansion.
Charles Paine founded the Save Briarcliff / Candler Mansion group when he was a sophomore at Woodward Academy.
He became interested in the mansion when his family moved into a home, that is now on the National Register of Historic Places, facing the property.
The 20-year-old is now triple majoring in historic preservation, urban planning and art and architecture history at the College of Charleston. He plans to eventually move back to the area.
Paine's goal for the mansion is to make sure the historic integrity is maintained throughout the property.
“We are praying that this (plan) goes through,” he said.