Jun 22, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
This summer, a 75-year-old house located at 401 Ferst Drive will be taken down to create more green space and to support the ongoing transformation of the north sector of campus. The small, camouflaged house on Ferst Drive, just west of Dalney Street, is unnoticeable to many passers-by, but its long and evolving history is woven into the fabric of the campus.
When the house was erected in 1942, it served as a parsonage for the Hemphill Avenue Church of God with eight rooms and two bathrooms. Georgia Tech purchased the properties in 1965. The church was eventually transformed into the Georgia Tech Center for the Performing Arts in 1968.
Soon the Center acted as the sole theater for DramaTech, the longest-running theater company in Atlanta. Prior to the purchase of the building, DramaTech students struggled to find a permanent venue for performances.
“The official establishment of the DramaTech Theater was an integral part to the development of arts at Tech," said Marilyn Somers, director of the Georgia Tech Living History Program.
For the past two decades, the house has provided office space for various departments including the Procurement Office, Environmental Health & Safety, and the Georgia Tech Police Department. It also supported the Georgia Tech chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity. For the last few years, though, the building has remained vacant.
When identifying methods to increase green space and move the Institute closer to its 50 percent stormwater runoff reduction goal, the house and adjacent parking areas were prime locations for transformation. As of June 22, construction fences have been erected, and efforts to deconstruct the building are underway. Many foundational parts of the house, including some of the dimensional lumber and granite, will be used in the construction of the new Living Building at Georgia Tech, which will be built near the site. Most of the remnants of the house will soon be gone, but its history and role in Georgia Tech’s evolution will always be valued.