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Photos: Fire destroys historic pre-Civil War era home in Ga.

DeKalb County Fire Rescue Department was called to extinguish the fire with more specialized equipment

By Rosana Hughes, John Spink
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — Nearly 200 years of history went up in flames Tuesday morning when a fire broke out in one of Stone Mountain Park’s historic homes that predate the Civil War.

Crews were dispatched when alarms started going off at the Dickey House in the park’s Historic Square between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., park police spokesperson John Bankhead said. When they arrived, they found the top part of the home engulfed in flames and had to call the DeKalb County Fire Rescue Department to help extinguish the fire with more specialized equipment.

No injuries were reported, and arson investigators are working to determine the cause of the blaze. As of Tuesday afternoon, it appeared to have originated in the home’s front portico area and triggered both fire and burglar alarms, Channel 2 Action News reported.

“Given the damage to the home, it’s irreparable. There’s not much we can do about it,” Bankhead told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The home, also known as the Davis House, was originally built in Dickey — about 30 miles west of Albany — on a 1,000-acre plantation sometime between the 1840s and 1850s, according to AJC archives. It was built by Charles Milton Davis, who went on to become a colonel in the Confederate Army.

The 14-room, two-story house was originally one level and was occupied by Davis’ descendants until 1961 when it was moved to Stone Mountain. It was one of many structures imported to create the historic square, formerly known as the Stone Acres Plantation and later as the Antebellum Plantation, according to a guide of Stone Mountain. The park officially opened in 1965 in response to interest sparked by the film “Gone With The Wind.”

In fact, Butterfly McQueen, the Black actress who played the enslaved Prissy in the movie, was hired to greet visitors at the “Big House.”

To prepare for the 200-mile move to Stone Mountain, the 6,250-square-foot home’s roof, porches and chimneys were removed and the house was quartered, the guide details. Architects then reassembled it at its current location and suggested adding the lower level for stability.

The house, which faces the mountain’s Confederate memorial carving, was considered “an example of antebellum wealth and beauty” and fully furnished with period antiques, according to the park’s official guide.

“It’s a representation of what it was like in the 1800s in Georgia,” Bankhead said. “It’s very sad. I mean, there were a lot of antiques from that era in the home, and with the water damage, this property — a total loss.”

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