Letter from family asks for remembrance of architect’s work at site
After Forsyth County commissioners made a decision this week to move ahead with demolition of the Barker House on Sawnee Mountain, the late architect’s daughter said the family is “at peace” with the decision.
Bambi Parham said the family of Jim Barker was unable to find a way to save the house after commissioners gave them six months to find an alternative and that they would like to see some remembrance of the house and her father.
“We, of course, were not successful in getting any help to help preserve the house,” she said. “We just held a family meeting and decided that the next best thing would be if they could place something there in honor of my dad, maybe some time of a picture of my dad, a picture of the house, a little bit of the history behind the house, and then maybe it could be part of the trail system.”
One previously discussed memorial brought up by Parham was a pavilion featuring the house’s rounded “spaceship” appearance.
Parham said several factors played into the family’s decision, including a lack of people willing to invest, scheduling with architects and contractors and family health issues.
“It was just a lot of family, personal things that got in the way,” she said.
She said while there was some talk of saving the house with members of the community and builders, in part due to the family illness and issues with scheduling, no plans ever materialized.
“When we talked to the architects and talked to the contractors and talked to demolition experts and talked to these people, they would say, ‘What a shame,’” Parham said, “but when they got down to brass tacks of figuring out when they could get to the house and when they could schedule it, it just never happened.”
* Barker House to be torn down on Sawnee Mountain
* Daughter of Barker House architect reflects on Sawnee Mountain home’s potential demolition
* Forsyth commissioners air options to save Barker House in part, whole
* Decision postponed six months for Barker House
NORTH FORSYTH – After allowing the family of the builder six months to find an alternative, Forsyth County commissioners have decided to demolish the iconic Barker House on Sawnee Mountain.
The vote was unanimous at a work session on Tuesday afternoon after District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills read a letter sent to the board from the family of late architect Jim Barker. The house is known for its rounded “spaceship” appearance.
In the letter, family members said no alternative had been found in six months due to circumstances beyond the family's control and asked for some remembrance of the house or Barker to be established where the house currently sits.
“Maybe they have some pictures and photos to create something,” Chairman Todd Levent said.
County Manager Doug Derrer also read a letter responding to the family and said the county would work to honor their wish.
“I'm confident the board will gladly entertain a plan incorporate a theme that commemorates the house, history and family,” Derrer said.
Under the agreement approved in September 2016, the county gave the family and others the right to enter the property with county staff, but the county was not liable for any injuries or other damage on the property, which has been plagued with vandalism and break-ins.
Commissioners previously approved the demolition before deciding to give the family the six months after outcry from them and the public.
The county purchased the house and the property surrounding it for $1.8 million in 2003, which was before any current commissioners began their terms.
Several studies have been done over the years to attempt to find a suitable use for the property, of which none were found to be plausible without significant and costly work being done.
A study done by Georgia Tech in 2004 found the property would need an additional lobby and tower for an elevator to meet American Disability Act standards.