“Among the substantial citizens and trustworthy business men of Atlanta is Milton Dargan.” This is the way a 1917 biography described the man who built one of Piedmont Avenue’s most impressive homes. Located on the east side of the busy Midtown street just north of Ponce De Leon, the stately colonial revival house remains much as it first appeared in 1896, a real survivor on an avenue where even the better preserved historic homes have lost major features of their original appearance.
Milton Dargan came to Atlanta from Texas in the 1880s as a regional insurance executive specializing in fire insurance. Born in South Carolina, he had attended Furman University and spent three years [not graduating] at the United States Naval Academy of Annapolis. Continuing his successful ways, he moved in the city’s most elite circles and became an avid amateur golfer in the days of Bobby Jones. Belonging to the Capital City Club’s Brookhaven Golf Club, he was also national vice president of the United States Golf Association [USGA]. If that were not enough, he also served as president of the Piedmont Driving Club.
He needed a “home to impress” and chose another Piedmont Driving Club member, architect Godfrey Norrman, to design it. Originally from Sweden, Norrman was one of Atlanta’s leading architects in the 1890s but more famous for his Queen Anne style homes [like nearby Ivy Hall]. His design for Dargan, however, abandoned that style for the severely symmetrical Colonial Revival with a wide-ranging application of design elements harking back to the colonial era; including pilasters, paired Tuscan columns, balustrades, dentil molding, entablature and grand Palladian windows. Paired chimneys with decorative pierced openings flank the building. All this remains except part of the porch balustrades and the coach house and servants residence is still standing too.
The home has remained a private residence for its long life which has probably aided in its almost pris-tine survival. Dargan, himself, didn’t get to enjoy it for a long time. He moved to New York City for new employment a few years after his new home was built, not returning until 1902. He had Norrman design his next home on Ponce de Leon Place. He remained a major business and social figure in Atlanta until his death in 1944. He is buried at Westview Cemetery.
Photo and story by Dick Funderburke