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Press Release

Taylor-Brawner House and Brawner Sanitarium Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Atlanta, Ga. (4/19/2012)

In 1909 Dr. James N. Brawner, Sr. purchased approximately 80 acres, including an existing 1897 farmhouse, from Mary Taylor.  Dr. Brawner immediately began construction of a 35-bed private hospital (later expanded by 10 beds) for the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction and mental disorders.  The sanitarium was listed in the National Register at the state level of significance for the contributions of Drs. James (Sr.) and Albert Brawner.  The hospital, which was at the time of its construction the only alternative to state facilities in Georgia, offered the newest in treatments for addiction and mental disorders.  The progressive hospital focused on treatment and cure, offered a high staff-to-patient ratio, and drew patients from all over the southeastern United States.  Dr. James N. Brawner, Sr. (1876-1859) served as medical director until 1955.  Dr. Albert F. Brawner (1893-1960), brother of the founder, was a prominent psychiatrist associated with the Brawner Sanitarium for 40 years.  Dr. James N. Brawner, Jr. (1904-1996), son of the founder, was medical director from 1955 until 1969.  The facility remained open as the Brawner Psychiatric Institute until the late 1990s. The building has been rehabilitated and is now used by the city of Smyrna for offices. 

The Brawner Sanitarium (a.k.a. Brawner Hospital) is set back from the road near the property’s southwest corner.  The Brawner Sanitarium is an excellent example of a large institutional building constructed in the Neoclassical Revival style in 1910 with state-of-the-art medical facilities.  The hospital also reflects the linear designs of Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, one of the early proponents of a standardized method of asylum construction.  The large, two-story, wood-framed building is roughly rectangular in shape with small projecting bays on each end of the front.  A 1914 concrete-block addition extends from the side rear.  The central entrance is under a two-story pedimented portico with Ionic columns.  Important interior public spaces have been retained.  Areas that once housed patient rooms and offices have been modified as classrooms, a reception hall, a catering kitchen, public restrooms, and city offices.  The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation awarded the project a 2010 “Excellence in Rehabilitation Award.”  The property’s landscape has been altered to create a park and is not a contributing element to this nomination.

On the northeast corner of the property is the 1897 one-story wood-framed house originally constructed for Mary Taylor.  The house was later inhabited by the Brawner family from the early 1920s until 1960.  The house is a Georgian Cottage type with weatherboard siding and a hipped roof.  A large central dormer located over the main entry was probably added in the 1920s.  The front porch wraps around both sides, and simple squared posts support its roof.  The Taylor-Brawner House Foundation has recently rehabilitated the house for use as an events facility.  The house plan consists of a central hall, which divides four main rooms, with additional rooms on the rear.  Pine floors, some historic moldings and hardware, and some fireplaces have been retained.  A modern kitchen and restrooms were added in the back.

The National Register of Historic Places is our country's official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts worthy of preservation.  The National Register provides formal recognition of a property's architectural, historical or archaeological significance. It also identifies historic properties for planning purposes and insures that these properties will be considered in the planning of state or federally assisted projects.  National Register listing encourages preservation of historic properties through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants. Listing in the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property. 

The Historic Preservation Division (HPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources serves as Georgia’s state historic preservation office. Its mission is to promote the preservation and use of historic places for a better Georgia.  HPD’s programs include archaeology protection and education, environmental review, grants, historic resource surveys, tax incentives, the National Register of Historic Places, community planning and technical assistance. 

The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices.   
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Historic Preservation Division media contact is Helen Talley-McRae, public affairs coordinator - 404-651-5268 and helen.talley-mcrae@dnr.state.ga.us  

Photos available upon request from Charlie Miller, media & communications coordinator - 404-651-5287 and charlie.miller@dnr.state.ga.us