Briarcliff (Candler Mansion)
A History by J.J. Williams:
Briarcliff Farm, located in Druid Hills on what was Williams Mill Road, was the home of Asa G. Candler, Jr. (known as “Buddie”) and his family. He moved to a rambling farmhouse located on the 42-acre property in 1910 from his home in Inman Park. Buddie oversaw a huge farming operation at Briarcliff. The farm was both self-sufficient and provided
fresh produce and meats to local stores. He raised produce and cows, sheep, pigs and chickens. At one point during World War I, he had a contract to supply Fort Gordon with milk from his dairy. In 1916, Buddie hired architects C.E. Frazier of Columbia, South Carolina, and Dan Boden of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to design a grand new home. “Briarcliff ” was completed in 1920. It was a 22-room ante-bellum home with a ballroom on the third floor. The exterior was made of buff colored bricks, with carved stone quoins at each corner sitting on rough granite bases. The interior had beautiful carvings
and woodwork throughout, pegged wooden floors and massive fireplaces carved of Georgia and European
marble. Elaborate greenhouses were constructed in the rear of the house so that Buddie and his wife, Helen, could pursue their hobbies of growing exotic orchids and unusual roses. Inside, Briarcliff consisted of a large foyer, a paneled library, living room, and a music room added to the first floor after the house had been completed. The oak-paneled room was three stories tall, and originally contained a pipe organ. The kitchen was large enough to contain commercial restaurant equipment, needed for the grand dinners and parties held at the mansion. The dining room was paneled and had carved ceilings and moldings. The dining room fireplace was of carved white marble, imported from Europe. The original chandeliers and candelabra were sterling silver. The first floor also contained a solarium with very high ceilings and two original oil murals on each end of the room. The solarium also contained a fishpond filled with colorful gold fish. Another pond was located in the back court yard. A pool room contained a huge carved table, used by Buddie Candler
for billiards, a popular game of the time. On the left-hand side of the port cochere, another solarium was added some time after the home was built and was intended for use by chauffeurs and other servants who accompanied guests to parties.
The second floor contained seven bedrooms, including two large master bedrooms, each with a carved marble fireplace, and seven bathrooms. The third floor was one huge room, stretching the
width and breath of the house. It was a ballroom, accessible by two sets of stairs and one elevator. The third floor also contained a bathroom with three showers, three sinks and three toilets, used by
guests at the dances. The basement of the home contained the boilers for heat, storage, and a large walk-in safe.
In the 1930s, Buddie purchased a zoo while traveling in Europe. The zoo animals were shipped by train and unloaded at Emory University Station. The animals were marched by handlers down the streets of Druid Hills to Briarcliff with crowds of neighbors gathering beside the road to view the scene. The zoo was open to the public, and cost only 25 cents admittance. Eventually, after many complaints from the neighbors and several lawsuits about escaping animals, smell and noise, Buddie donated his zoo animals to the City of Atlanta and they became the basis for the Atlanta Zoo
in Grant Park. The estate included the main house, servants’ quarters, tennis courts, horse stables, greenhouses, a laundry, the zoo buildings and a community pool. At the time Buddie installed the community pool, there was no public swimming pool for the children of Druid Hills. (The Druid Hills Golf Club had a pool, but it was private.) When completed, the pool was known as the Briarcliff Zoological Gardens and boasted a neon light fountain that came on after dark. The pool area was landscaped with gorgeous flowers and shrubs. Admission to the pool was 25 cents. The pool also had a pavilion where swimmers could buy snacks and Coca Cola. Another building housed a locker room where swimmers
could change and store their street clothing. There was a private pool in the rear of the property for the family.
The Candlers sold Briarcliff in 1948 to the General Services Administration but the planned Veteran’s Hospital was never built there. The State Alcohol Commission then purchased the property to be used as a treatment facility for alcoholism. “The Georgian Clinic,” as it was known, opened in 1953 as the first and only facility in Georgia for alcohol treatment. The Georgian Clinic continued to use the public swimming pool as a recreation area for its patients until the late 1950s, when it closed due to lack of funds for maintenance. In 1965, The Georgia Mental Health Institute was located to the left of Briarcliff House on part of the 42 acres. It
consisted of a main multi-story tower surrounded by smaller cottages. It was the northern DeKalb regional mental health
treatment center until it closed. Buddie Candler sold Briarcliff in 1949 and moved with his second wife, Florence, into the top floor of the Briarcliff Hotel, which was owned by the family. He died there of cancer in January of 1953. The once grand Briarcliff mansion is now boarded up and owned by Emory University.

From Wright Marshall:

"Former home of Asa Candler Jr. Sold to
Asa Griggs Candler, Jr. engaged Charles Frazier in 1920 to design an elegant estate he named “Briarcliff ” on forty-two acres just north of Callanwolde. Briarcliff was built between 1920 and 1922. The house was completed in 1922, but Frazier and Dan Bodin continued to work on the property for another thirteen years. In 1925, Candler asked Bodin to enlarge the estate, and while there
were several additions, the music room, now known as DeOvies Hall, is the most significant. Briarcliff was sold in 1948, and it has continued to have an interesting role in the area’s history. Unfortunately, the house is only a shell of its former glory and is deteriorating in obscurity.

The Georgia Mental Health Institute (GMHI) was a psychiatric hospital which operated from 1965-1997 near Emory University in Druid Hills near Atlanta Georgia. It was located on the grounds of the Briarcliff Estate, the former residence of Asa G. Candler, Jr., the son of the founder of Coca-Cola.

Emory and the State of Georgia jointly developed the GHMI. Emory doctors provided some of the mental health services at GHMI, and some residents and fellows received part of their training in psychiatry there. Emory also had its own pediatric psychiatric outpatient programs based at the facility. The university also had 10 faculty scientists conducting 18 research studies at GMHI, focused on mental health, brain and central nervous system diseases. At its closing it had 141 beds and a $24.5 million budget.
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