What started as a vision nearly two decades ago–to preserve the historic Lyon Farmhouse–is now a reality.
Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, along with DeKalb County and Stonecrest officials and members of the Lyon family celebrated the completion of the Lyon Farmhouse preservation project May 31. The farmhouse, which is part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, was stabilized to secure the aging structure and provide education and conservation programs at the site, according to the alliance.
The Lyon family is one of the oldest families in DeKalb and established the farm in the 1820s. For nearly 150 years, the family carved out a rural life where they cultivated crops and raised livestock, according to the alliance. A log cabin was reportedly the first structure built on the property in the 1820s, according to the alliance. The property was expanded in 1853 and again in 1893, creating the house that stands today.
Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance co-founder Kelly Jordan said he and then DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson met George and Betty Lyon at the farmhouse 20 years ago.
“They were still living here, as the Lyon family has done since the Creek Indians ceded this land to the United States in the early 1800s. We spoke with them about our desire and their desire to see this property preserved in the future for everyone to enjoy and come and visit,” Jordan said. “George Lyon has sadly passed away since then. Betty Lyon is still with us and lives in Tennessee and couldn’t be here today, but she still calls us every few months and says, ‘Have y’all ever fixed up the old house yet?’ And I’m proud to say that we can finally tell her, ‘Yes.’”
The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management (DWM) purchased the Lyon Farm in 2003 to buffer the Pole Bridge Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant and Sprayfields, according to the alliance. In 2016, the house was placed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Places in Peril” list due to advanced structural damage, potential for imminent loss and its historic significance. The alliance, DeKalb County DWM and contractor F. H. Paschen kicked off work on the historic structure in October 2018 to stabilized it.
Johnson said he is happy to see the farmhouse preserved.
“I’m looking forward to seeing more resources applied to do whatever needs to be done to make sure that this place will live on in history and that many people from America and around the world will come here,” he said. “This is such a wonderful asset for us.”
Johnson’s wife, Mereda Davis Johnson, who is the District 5 representative on the DeKalb Board of Commissioners, said it was important for the county to acquire the Lyon Farmhouse and stabilize it.
“I always talk about the uniqueness of the 5th district; this is another one of our jewels,” she said. “I’m so glad and appreciative that in 2018, the board of commissioners unanimously authorized CEO Michael Thurmond to execute an agreement to stabilize the historic Lyon Farm and restore the structural integrity of the home.”
Arabia Alliance Executive Director Mera Cardenas said the preservation of the farmhouse is just the beginning of a bigger project for the house and the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.
“We’re looking forward to fulfilling the vision that this will be a place, and is currently a place, that tourists come to from all over the world,” Cardenas said.