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Monica Pearson. Really, just call her Monica. She’s been on a first-name basis with Atlantans for as long as most viewers can remember. A hard-working and vivacious anchorwoman for WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News since 1975, Monica has covered everything from Jimmy Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize to the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. But with her retirement on the horizon (her final day will be July 25), Monica knew she was long overdue for a vacation—or at least a home with a view that would make her and her husband, John, feel like they were constantly on one.
The pair searched for lake houses on Oconee, Lanier, and even as far as the Alabama state line. But it wasn’t until a colleague suggested a lake much closer to Atlanta—just 30 minutes south of the city—that their dream home came closer to fruition. “It was so ideal,” says Monica of the location. “I can still go to the Symphony, see True Colors plays, go to the High, or to my favorite restaurants in Buckhead,” she says, “and it’s an easy drive home.”
And while Monica still waxes poetic over her Ansley Park home—a 1906 Arts and Crafts-style house she loved for a quarter-century, once she and John found the perfect property, they began to design a home that was uniquely suited to their needs, working with builder Ruben Calleiro to make it open, comfortable, light-filled and fun.
Avid collectors of African American arts—their genre-bending collection includes works by Romare Bearden, John T. Riddle, David Driskell and Maxwell Taylor—the house also needed plenty of wall space. And that’s where interior designer Jennifer Greene came in, building rooms around prized possessions, and in many cases, making room for new ones, such as the shadow boxes she created for Monica’s 1940s Francisco Rebajes copper jewelry.
But equally as important as her art collection were pieces Monica’s earned, inherited, or been given throughout the years. “I look around this house and I see family and friends in almost everything,” she says. And whether it’s the breakfront upstairs displaying her mother’s prized Blue Willow china or a Mike Luckovich cartoon drawn in her honor, it’s evident that there’s an interesting story behind each painting, sculpture, piece of furniture or carving. Despite each piece’s unique and far-flung roots, though, if there’s one word that describes her personal style, it would be “ecumenical,” she says. “Our home is eclectic, but it’s warm and inviting. I’m comfortable in this house no matter what room I’m in. And to me, that’s the whole reason for having a home.”
In Monica’s Own Words
In my retirement, I’m going to start out working on my Masters at UGA in telecommunications and I’m starting my own website, atoeinthewater.com. It will launch August 1st. What I’m going to do is go to places you may have thought about going but were afraid to try … I’m going to go stick my toe in the water and tell you if it’s just right or if it’s too cold.
When I first moved to Atlanta, you couldn’t go shopping on Sundays—blue laws were still in effect. On Saturday night, the sidewalks were rolled up and everybody stayed home and went to church on Sundays.
Going on the air in 1975, no woman, no black, had ever done the 6 o’clock news. I can remember people not being very nice in person or on the phone because they thought it was not a place I should be. But I also remember the support of people like John Pruitt, who protected me, befriended me, and just is still my heart.
My mother raised me with a lot of mottos. My favorite is, “It’s what you do with what you have that makes you what you are.”
I love to dress up. I love black tie affairs. I love wearing evening gowns and all the stuff that goes with it. If I could live all of my life in formal attire and my husband in a tuxedo, I would be happy, because I love the feel and the elegance.
My trip with Andy Young—that was the most magical thing I’ve ever done in my 37 years of reporting. The name of the series was “Africa—Continent of Possibilities.” We did a series of reports and a half-hour special. In the series of reports we showed a woman from Atlanta, Susan Mathis, who was making a difference with her game preserve, Mateya, by putting people to work. To see her appreciation for all-things African, that was amazing. And to go to Senegal and see a lake that is literally pink and to know that if you could get a really good road there, what it could do for the infrastructure of the country.
Traveling with Andy Young was like traveling with a rock star. But it was also the kind of story that caused me—and we did a piece on it—to find out what my roots were and it was extremely touching.
I used to think that my best years were my twenties. But now I have the home of my dreams, the man of my dreams, my daughter is grown, my mother is happy. These are my best years. My sixties are my best years. Age ain’t nothing but a number. It’s your attitude that counts.
I live at Saks. Almost everything I own is St. John.
John and [builder] Ruben Caillero both love to talk. And they would write little bible verses on the wood beams in the house. So behind every wall in this house is a bible verse. I felt like from the beginning this house was built on sacred, blessed ground. Everything just came together.
Calleiro Bros., Inc. (678) 409-5753; calleirobros.com