Established in 1895, Jackson Hill Baptist Church moved to the Pinebloom estate in the Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta in 1957. Along South Ponce de Leon these magnificent church-mansions are not uncommon. Many even predate some of the oldest homes in Buckhead. This prestigious Tudor-Revival mansion was built in 1914 by architect Walter T. Downing for Preston S. Arkwright. Arkwright was an investor in the Druid Hills Corporation, lawyer and partner at what is now the Troutman Sanders law firm, second president of Georgia Power, former owner of the Atlanta Crackers minor league baseball team, and an early proponent of an underground city transit system.
Arkwright’s wife named the estate Pinebloom after her family home in Baker County. In 1946, Preston Arkwright died, and by 1950, the family sold the property to the Southern Baptist Convention. Pinebloom is rich in Baptist history. The famous evangelist Billy Sunday preached the largest cottage revival of his career in the home. The Baptist Hour radio show was broadcast from the third-floor attic space.
In 1997, the Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention voted to accept the property as a gift to provide office space for The Christian Index at a location separate from the Baptist Center on Flowers Road. The church sanctuary was used by the Moreland Avenue Baptist Church at the time the property was transferred. Jackson Hill Baptist’s dwindling congregation met on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights in the solarium of the mansion. Once acquired by The Christian Index, refurbishing and renovations began, but they did not move into the property until the beginning of 2001. The renovation and maintenance of the building proved to be too costly, and by 2003 The Christian Index moved back into the Baptist Center on Flowers Road.
The Pinebloom mansion is protected under historic preservation ordinances and is a contributing structure to the Druid Hills Historic District, however, the church building is considered non-contributing. For the past several years, efforts have been made to sell the property, but extenuating circumstances and concern for the health of the Jackson Hill Church made the decision difficult. Earlier this year, the Georgia Mission Board decided to sell the property to urban infill developer Joel Reed of Reed and Company. Reed worked with the Jackson Hill Baptist Church to craft a new agreement that will permit the congregation to continue to worship in the Pinebloom mansion.
While the mansion remains intact, the attached church facility was set to be demolished by summer 2021. According to Reed, the mansion will have three condominium units on the second floor and two on the third floor. The property will also accommodate eleven villas with four duplexes and a triplex. Three single-family homes will be constructed on the back of the property facing Clifton Road. The first floor of the mansion will be designed as an amenity space for residents. The garden will be enhanced, and a pool will be added for the enjoyment of those of reside on the property. Reed also noted that a fitness center will be added and a five-car parking garage will be provided for convenience.
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