DUNWOODY, Ga. — Dunwoody officials and community leaders gathered Sept. 16 to celebrate the opening of the refurbished guest cottage at the historic Donaldson-Bannister Farm. 

The three-room cottage, built around the 1930, will serve as office space for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust. Renovations were made possible by a grant from the city and private donations. 

A city park, the Donaldson-Bannister Farm was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. The 3-acre property includes a house, barn, cemetery, pasture land, gardens and several outbuildings, and is located at the corner of Chamblee Dunwoody and Vermack roads. 

It was built in 1870 by W.J. and Millie Donaldson. The guest cottage was added around 1930 by then-owner Lois Pattillo. 

“Millie Donaldson farmed the Dunwoody land after her husband died in 1900 until she died in 1931,” trust Executive Director Suzanne Huff said. “At that time the property was sold as a summer home to Lois Pattillo, a wealthy Atlanta widow, who hired Atlanta architect Francis Palmer Smith to redesign the home and add several additional structures, including the guest cottage. Pattillo later married a Dunwoody resident, Leland Bannister.”  

An extensive renovation to the property’s main house, barn and grounds was completed in spring 2018, and the property was opened to the public as a special-use park and event facility.

Renovations to the guest cottage mark the completion of another phase of the park’s refurbishment. Two additional outbuildings — a commissary and shop — remain on the wish list.

The cottage will be used as offices for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, which will create more event space in the main house where the office was previously housed. In addition to extensive foundation repair, the renovations included repair of the original fireplace and architectural details, keeping as much of the original structure and charm as possible.

The cottage has been used for a variety of purposes through the years, including the residence for a couple that took care of the home when the Bannisters were living in Atlanta. 

For many years, they left the front room open for travelers who could access the room from a separate entrance. Those staying overnight could leave change for payment on the mantle over the small fireplace.

The property’s final occupants, David and Linda Chesnut, sold the property to DeKalb County in 2005. It sat unused and uncared-for until Dunwoody became a city in 2008, and it became part of the city’s parks acquisition. 

The extensive renovations have been coordinated via a partnership between the Dunwoody Preservation Trust and the City of Dunwoody’s Parks and Recreation department. Funding has been made possible through City of Dunwoody grants, private donations and proceeds from the DPT’s annual fundraiser, Lemonade Days.

The park is open daily for picnics, strolls and free play on the lawn.

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