May Patterson Goodrum House – Part 1


Atlanta, GA – West Paces Ferry Road near the Governor’s Mansion – This post is longer than most, and I’ve had to break it into a couple of parts.  This stretch of Buckhead was called the Fifth Avenue of Atlanta in the first part of the 20th Century, and I recently had a chance to tour this one with the Atlanta Preservation Center.  This is the May Patterson Goodrum House, built in 1932.  Some of us know it as the Peacock House – yes, there were once peacocks here who got out and blocked the road from time to time.

I always love to learn about the people who lived in these grand homes back in yesteryear, and May Patterson Goodrum Abreu is one of those people who has a fascinating story.  In my research, I learned that she was the first recipient of the “Atlanta Woman of the Year” award in 1943 for her war efforts (remember, World War 2 was going on then).  She was a major supporter of the Humane Society, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and helped with the founding of a school in Rabun.

Photo from Abreu Foundation


She was not born into money, she worked at a store when she got married in 1926.  Sadly, her first husband passed away a couple of years later.  She married Francis Abreu in 1938 – but before that, she had this house built!

The architect, Philip Trammell Shutze, is one of the top classicist architects of the last century.  He designed many landmark homes in his long career.  I’m going to have a post on some more of his houses.

The house is currently undergoing major renovation by the Watson-Brown Foundation.  We were lucky enough to have Tad Brown as our tour leader – and he’s an expert on this house!


When you walk in the foyer of this house there’s a big living room off to the left.  While we were there, part of it was sealed off and as you can see, there’s a lot of work going on.


See that woodwork below?  Those are different southern flowers on there – magnolias, dogwoods, etc.

WP_20150311_026Here’s a pic of the living room when the house was for sale a few years ago.


Looking at the staircase, I couldn’t figure out the railing.  Was that art deco?  Was it Chinese?  Was it added later to the house?  What is up with that?  Turns out that’s part of the English Regency style – it plays on some Asian elements.  I guess it’s what they also call a “pop of color” on HGTV.




So remember how I said English Regency had some Asian elements in it?  Well going in the dining room, I was speechless (OK, for like 2 seconds, a long time for ME) at the Chinese mural in here.  It was painted by Allyn Cox – who also happened to be the same person who did mural in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC!





Here is a look at the room when was furnished – can’t you see the cast of Downton Abbey having a meal in here?  He actually painted these elsewhere and had them shipped and installed in the house.  See that door to the right of the fireplace?  Is that a secret door to somewhere?  Nah.

Historic Buildings, May Patterson Goodrum House_dining_room


I of course couldn’t stand it and had to see what was behind that door!  I realized quickly that it was the butler’s pantry and kitchen – all restored to the original 1930s look.

Checking out the kitchen, they have gone to great lengths to make it look period appropriate.


See this range?  This here is a 1926 Hotpoint.


I had to take a closer look at it – and when I was looking at the oven controls, I discovered it has “slow”, “medium”, “hot” etc listed on it.  Ah ha!  That’s what they have in those old cookbooks, “cook in a slow oven for XX minutes”…


And of course a vintage refrigerator in the kitchen.



Lots more to see around here, so will have a second post.  Thanks for coming along on this tour!

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