If you enjoy seeing the historic 1906 Cheek/Spruill Farmhouse at the corner of Mount Vernon Road and Chamblee Dunwoody Road, consider the efforts that went into saving it from demolition.
In 1994, the fate of the home and 2.5 acres were uncertain after the owner, Florence Warnock Spruill, passed away. Her husband, Carey Spruill, had died in 1983. The couple’s sons, Hugh and Edwin, inherited the property and were interested in saving the home. They worked along with Dunwoody Preservation Trust to come up with a solution.
Dunwoody Homeowners Association kicked things off with $10,000 in seed money toward the preservation campaign. Fundraising efforts included two auctions and the sale of paper chains made by local children. Jim Perkins, Michael Hitt and Chuck Brown collaborated on Downtown Dunwoody and Hightower Trail maps which they sold, donating the proceeds. Many volunteers came forward to help save the house and property.
Lynne Byrd and Joyce Amacher stood in front of the house wearing signs that read “Save me.” The May 1, 1996 edition of the Dunwoody Crier featured an article titled “An Urgent Farmhouse Plea from the Dunwoody Preservation Trust.” Along with the article was a painting of the farmhouse, including a sign in front of the house with the words, “Coming Soon: Big Discount Gas Station for your convenience.” The picture was meant to encourage donations and prevent the possible fate of the busy corner.
Guardian Savings Bank was interested in developing the entire property, initially wanting to tear down the house and build a bank on the property. However, a deal was discussed where they would donate one-half acre, let the house remain and develop the rest of the land.
Joyce Amacher decided that she and Lynne Byrd should go to Guardian’s office in California, to push them for a final decision on the deal. When she called to inform Guardian of the trip, the bank said Amacher and Byrd didn’t need to make the trip. The bank would make the deal final. The agreement was that Dunwoody Preservation Trust would get to keep the half-acre, house, smoke house and chicken house. The barn would have to be demolished.
DPT received the deed from Guardian Savings on July 4, 1998, almost four years after the campaign to save the home began. Lynne Byrd and others participated in the July 4th parade that day and called out to those lined along the streets, “The farmhouse is saved, the farmhouse is saved.”
The $200,000 raised to save the farmhouse went toward the home’s rehabilitation. Bill Amacher and others carefully moved the smoke house and chicken house, and work on the home began under Amacher’s direction. The barn was demolished, taking only 15 minutes. On June 9, 2000 the Cheek/Spruill Farmhouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to the 1996 article, some people questioned whether future generations of Dunwoody would care that the farmhouse was saved. On the other hand, supporters of the cause believed that, “Years from now, they (future generations) can drive their own families by the house and tell their children how they helped to save the farm.”