Historic Georgia Home Painted Orange Creates Stir in Neighborhood

The orange hue that owner T. Ruben Jones has painted his historic Atlanta home (it's on Georgia's National Register of Historic Places) is stirring things up in the upscale Peachtree Heights West neighborhood in the Buckhead area.

How can painting your house a color your neighbors object to cause such a fuss? It's easy.

Located at 125 W Wesley Rd NW in Atlanta, the house was built in 1922 and planned by renowned 20th century Atlanta architect Neel Reid and was specifically constructed to resemble a villa. It was listed for almost $2 million.

The two-story structure, built of natural limestone, had its natural grayish color -- that is, until Jones bought it and painted the exterior a bright orange, which he said, according the Atlanta Journal Constitution, will fade over time to achieve the Italian villa look he's trying to achieve.

Meanwhile, neighbors have knocked on Jones' door and expressed anger at his outrageous color choice. "The neighborhood is in an uproar because it destroys the historic character of the whole block," said Wright Mitchell, a lawyer who lives across the street.
That may be true, but according to Wes Vawter, a founding partner of Atlanta Fine Homes and International Realty, that was not his intention: "The owner, who is a collector and in the antiques business, was going for the aged terra-cotta look and initially, there was supposed to be a glazed type of technique done once it was painted, but this hasn't been done."

Vawter goes on to say that the home's color should age naturally and that he "doubts it will decrease the value of neighboring homes. Frankly, I don't think he wants it to be an eyesore, he paid a lot for the house, so he's got an investment in that property. It's an architectural gem and with the work he put in to renovating the interior he has spent a substantial amount of money."

As for the consensus from area real estate agents and neighbors, the feeling is that although it's not the color they would have chosen, they feel it's not in their place to dictate what homeowners can do.

Ben Hirsh, principal at Ben Hirsh Real Estate, who specializes in working with clients in the Buckhead area and is also resident, says part of what draws people to Buckhead are the beautiful estate homes, historic ones like the Tompkins House as well as new ones.

"I would be quite upset if any of my neighbors decided to paint their homes such a hideous color, but I have to stop short of saying that we should legislate or regulate the color that people in Buckhead choose to paint their homes," Hirsh says.

He feels that such restrictions belong only in master-planned communities where residents must agree to abide by such covenants and restrictions before buying there. However, he does feel that such an oddly painted home may give potential buyers the impression that the neighborhood is not being maintained.

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