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Plans change for Emory's Briarcliff Mansion

Completed in 1922, the Briarcliff Mansion served as the home of Coca-Cola heir Asa Griggs “Buddie” Candler Jr. After serving as a private residence and then a mental health facility, the mansion and surrounding property was purchased by Emory in 1998. The mansion has been primarily used as a backdrop for television and movie productions in recent years, while the Briarcliff Property is also home to the innovative Library Service Center, which opened in 2016.

Two years ago this month, Emory announced plans to engage with a private Atlanta developer to explore a proposal to restore historic Briarcliff Mansion and reintroduce it as a luxury hotel and event venue.

However, university officials announced this week that the project is off that table after the developer revealed that their original plans to rehabilitate the once-grand property into a 54-room boutique hotel are not economically feasible. 

Subsequently, Emory explored the concept of creating a boutique hotel with another third-party hotel developer, only to learn that they’d come to the same conclusion.

Built by Asa Griggs “Buddie” Candler Jr., the son of Coca-Cola co-founder Asa Griggs Candler, the manor on Emory’s Briarcliff Property has fallen into decline over the years, though it is occasionally used as a set location for film and television projects. 

In its prime, the mansion featured more than 40 rooms, two pools, a greenhouse and elegant formal gardens, multiple dining rooms — one seated 75 guests — and a third-floor ballroom. Later additions included a 1,700-square-foot music room with a cathedral-style organ.

The property drew attention when Buddie Candler imported $50,000 of exotic animals to create a private zoo on the property that was later opened to the public. In 1935, Candler donated the animals to Atlanta’s Grant Park Zoo. 

Moving forward, the unique property will be evaluated in the context of Emory’s master planning initiative, in hopes of identifying a suitable use for the manor, says David Payne, associate vice president of planning and engagement for the Office of the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration.

In the meantime, the mansion — which is off limits to the public — will continue to be secured and stabilized.

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