The recent proposal of a new Starbucks on a section of land in front of the Ravinia Crowne Plaza has brought the old chimney that stands there into question. The attorney for Hines, the owners of Ravinia, recently told the Dunwoody Homeowners’ Association the chimney has no historical significance and was cemented shut.
Here is what I was able to learn, in collaboration with Dunwoody Preservation Trust.
Stephen Spruill owned 1,000 acres in DeKalb and Fulton County, including much of the land on either side of Ashford Dunwoody Road. He was born in a log cabin along Ashford Dunwoody Road in 1870. His grandfather, James Spruill, and grandmother, Millie Adams had moved to Dunwoody from Sandy Springs.
Mr. Spruill employed 50 or more hands and tenants on his farms. There were tenant houses on his land for them to live in. He even ran a commissary near his house where his employees could buy some of the things they needed that were not grown on the land.
Euil Spruill (known as Red) was one of Stephen’s sons, and he and his wife Georgia Womack Spruill also lived along Ashford Dunwoody Road. Their daughter Kathleen Spruill Meiers confirms that the chimney was part of a circa 1900 Spruill tenant house that later burned. When the Ravinia was built, the chimney was crated up and moved to the present location.
Hugh Sentell was born in 1904 in one of the small homes that once sat where Perimeter Mall is located. His history was recorded by the Sandy Springs Foundation and this is what he said regarding the chimney. “For several years a lonely chimney stood on a grassy hill at the intersection of Ashford Dunwoody Road and Interstate 285. More recently, the property was being developed for commercial use. Fortunately, the developer recognized its historical value and relocated the chimney several hundred yards northward. As part of the move the chimney was sturdily rebuilt for preservation.”
Tom Reilly has lived in the Dunwoody area since the 1950’s and he remembers the chimney being crated up, moved and reconstructed at its present site. Doug van Veelen, who has lived here since the 1960’s recalls the chimney and three others that sat where Perimeter Mall is today. He took photographs of the chimney shortly before it was relocated.
The chimney is a reminder of the farm land, cow pastures, tenant houses and families who once lived on the land we now call Dunwoody.