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Ryan Gainey home being torn down

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Ryan Gainey home being torn down

Ryan Gainey's Decatur home is in the process of being torn down. Photo by Diane Loupe
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Ryan Gainey’s Decatur home is in the process of being torn down. Photo by Diane Loupe

This story has been updated. 

The demolition of the home of world-famous gardener Ryan Gainey got underway this week.

Because of mold and termite damage, it wasn’t possible to save the home located on Emerson Avenue. That’s why the current owner, Teresa Parrish, received a permit to remove what has become an unofficial Decatur landmark over the years.

Parrish, who plans to rehabilitate the green houses and the guest house, said she was sad to see it go.

“I’m trying to put my feelings into words,” she said. “I’m sad because it was Ryan’s house and now I feel like that piece is gone, but I’m excited for the future. I’m excited to be moving forward.”

Ryan Gainey’s home, prior to demolition. Photo provided to Decaturish

The demolition is a sad end to a house that had been in disrepair for some time before Parrish took it over. In 2016 a large tree fell on it, leaving it uninhabitable.

Parrish was Gainey’s neighbor for years and they became close friends. Gainey was a world-famous Decatur gardener and designer, a gifted eccentric who loved Jack Russell terriers. He owned a property in Lexington, Ga. He was staying there in July 2016 when a fire broke out. Gainey rushed inside with a garden hose in an attempt to save his dogs and did not return. Gainey and his dogs died and his Lexington home was destroyed.

Ryan Gainey

After Gainey died, the fate of his house and cottage-style garden – which had been featured on garden tours, in books, magazines, and was used to film “The Odd Life of Timothy” Green in 2011 – became the subject of speculation.  A few people suggested the city of Decatur buy it and preserve it in some way. City Manager Peggy Merriss said the city didn’t have the expertise or resources to maintain it properly.

Gainey left his home to Parrish in his will. Parrish, who did not have a background in gardening, pledged to learn and to preserve the home. But during the renovation process, she discovered the termite infestation, she said.

The Gainey property has three large buildings; a main house, which is being torn down, the rental house and a large glass greenhouse that has major damage.

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Parrish said the guest house and a smaller green house are being renovated.

“We’re very excited we found a company that builds glass houses,” she said. “They’ll keep the foundations and the walls intact. The glass structure will be a tempered glass house.”

She said the large green house “will stay as it is right now.”

The garden at the home is also being preserved. Parrish said the demolition crew did not damage any of the trees or plants in the garden.

When Parrish builds a new home to replace Gainey’s, it will resemble the old home even though it will be all new construction.

“The main house will be very reminiscent of the old house,” Parrish said. “We kept our original renovation plans, just altered them to be for new construction.”

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