This article is the second in a series about the owners of Donaldson-Bannister Farm, as we celebrate 150 years for the farm. Last time, I shared history of the Donaldson family. The next owner is Bannister, Lois Pattillo Bannister.
Lois Pattillo was born in Gwinnett County in 1892 to Jack and Laura Wilson Pattillo. Lois had two siblings, John Ray and Mary Jimmie. Her father started Pattillo Lumber Company in 1895 while they were living in Gwinnett County.
By 1910, the Pattillo family lived at 137 Elizabeth Street in Inman Park. Their home was designed by Francis Palmer Smith, a well-known architect in Atlanta and head of the Georgia Tech Architecture School. This fact became significant later when Lois Pattillo purchased the Donaldson home.
As a girl growing up in Inman Park, Lois Pattillo was in a social and philanthropic club called Inman Girls. Her name appeared occasionally in the newspaper social column as a guest at parties and dances. After high school, she attended Agnes Scott College.
Lois Pattillo was a golfer in the 1920s, playing in the 1924 Atlanta Women’s Golf Association tournament. The first round of the tournament was played at the Brookhaven Country Club. (Atlanta Constitution, May 4, 1924)
In 1917, she married Jesse Joe Neer, but he died at the age of 35 in 1921. She married John Hill in 1925, but he tragically died just six years later.
When the Donaldson farm was divided into sections and auctioned off in 1932, Pattillo had returned to her maiden name. She initially bought the home and 26 acres as a summer home, keeping her Peachtree Circle home in Atlanta where she had lived with John Hill.
Pattillo hired the same architect who had designed her parents’ home, Francis Palmer Smith, to design a Colonial Revival style remodel for the farmhouse. She had the barn and caretaker’s house built, which are still on the property.
Pattillo also had a boxwood garden installed. This included a large brick wall with a fountain and a garden of boxwoods, peonies, and paths. The brick wall still stands today.
Pattillo used rock from a quarry off Vermack Road to have a swimming pool built into the creek just east of the home. There was a bath house with two changing rooms and picnic tables. For more on the pool, go to thecrier.net and look for the August 9, 2019 Past Tense.
Lois Pattillo married two more times. She married James Mansfield Davis in 1935. That marriage ended in divorce. In 1937, she married Leland Bannister, a salesman for Georgia Power Company who lived on Chamblee Dunwoody Road.
In 1940, Lois Pattillo’s 75-year-old parents were also living in the Dunwoody home with their daughter. The Bannisters also had a foster son named Marcus C. Wood who lived with them. He later shared some of his memories with Vivian Price Saffold, DeKalb County historian. Wood said the Bannisters traded the farm for a home on Woodward Way in Buckhead in 1942.
Lois Pattillo Bannister died in 1959 and is buried at Westview Cemetery in Atlanta, alongside her parents. Her nieces came to Donaldson-Bannister Farm later and gave a collection of photographs to the Smith family, who owned the property at that time. Bonnie Smith Nichols shared the photographs with Dunwoody Preservation Trust. These photos document how the house and farm looked prior to and during the changes made by Lois Pattillo.
You can reach Valerie Biggerstaff at firstname.lastname@example.org.