City of Dunwoody cuts ribbon on refurbished Guest Cottage at Donaldson-Bannister Farm

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Charming, circa-1930s cottage will serve as office space

for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust

City of Dunwoody officials and members of the community will gather at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 16 to celebrate the opening of the refurbished Guest Cottage at the historic Donaldson-Bannister Farm. Renovations to the three-room cottage were made possible by a special grant from the City of Dunwoody and private donations. The work was coordinated in a joint partnership between the City of Dunwoody and the Dunwoody Preservation Trust (DPT).

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.

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

The Guest 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.

“Millie Donaldson farmed the Dunwoody land after her husband died in 1900 until she died in 1931,” explained DPT’s Executive Director Suzanne Huff. “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.”  

The Guest 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 2009, 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 Donaldson-Bannister Farm has become a remarkable asset to Dunwoody’s parks,” said Director of Parks and Recreation Brent Walker. “We are grateful for the partnership the city has with the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, and are happy to add the refurbished Guest Cottage to the property.”

The park is open daily for picnics, strolls and free-play on the lawn. The main house and cottage are open for tours by appointment by calling the Dunwoody Preservation Trust at 770-668-0401.

For more information regarding the City of Dunwoody, please contact Kathy Florence, Communications Manager: 678.382.6712, Kathy.florence@dunwoodyga.gov.