Architect Frederick Spitzmiller reconstructs an 1852 Greek Revival home for 21st-century living.
Southerners know a good hound will always find his way home. When Randolph showed up on Rick Spitzmiller’s gracious Greek Revival front porch, the dog became the master of the architect’s exquisite 19th-century country retreat known as Redland.
“Growing up as an equestrian, I always asked my parents if we could ride past the beautiful house in Midland, Georgia,” says Spitzmiller. The house was built in 1852 for the Jenkins family and remained in the family until they decided to sell it in 2005. “I was ready to find a refined country home to be a respite from Atlanta, and this house had always captivated me,” he says.
By relocating the house to his property in Harris County, Spitzmiller lost the tax benefits of purchasing a historic home, but, he says, “I acquired the architectural freedom to make the house comfortable, including creating a new kitchen, bathrooms and extra living space.”
Moving a historic home is a highly detailed process that demands minute orchestration, from numbering each brick and board to enlisting a retinue of state troopers to escort the oversized load on tractor-trailers to the new site. The central hallway of Redland is 40 feet long and 12 feet wide, so the roof was dismantled and the house was cut into two pieces for transporting. Although the structure only moved 18 miles, it took a year of planning and preparation to make sure it could be placed on its new footings upon arrival.
While Redland survived the move with most of the original architectural elements intact, the restoration proved to be one of patience and persistence. The new roof installation destroyed the original plaster walls, and the central hallway floors were too worn to be refinished. Fortunately, however, Spitzmiller’s foresight and planning ensured appropriate remedies. “We had packed the original plaster ceiling rosettes; we replaced the plaster walls; and we sourced the same 19th-century heart pine floorboards from the Jenkins family barn, so it all appears original,” he says.
The house is higher in the front than in the back, so Spitzmiller excavated land to accommodate additional living space on the lower level that once housed the root cellar. Now, guest bedrooms and bathrooms, a studio and a laundry room are inviting quarters for Redland’s frequent guests. The soaring ceilings, beautiful windows, period-style mantels and antique furnishings mix with comfortable upholstery for charming interiors throughout the house. “It’s all in consonance with the context,” says Spitzmiller. As confirmation, Redland was awarded The Philip Trammell Shutze award from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art’s Southeast chapter.
Spitzmiller notes that he’s found his “bucolic, happy place” with his loyal Southern hound, red Georgia clay and exquisite example of Greek Revival architecture. Randolph certainly has a very discerning nose.
ARCHTECTURE & DESIGN Rick Spitzmiller and Robert Norris, Spitzmiller & Norris, (404) 812-0224; spitzmillerandnorris.com