ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Jack Peevy is a quiet man and a generous man. The retired U.S. Army colonel has already made a $2.1 million donation to his alma mater, North Georgia College and State University, now known as the University of North Georgia.
But Saturday, April 20, he made another donation that was closer to home – in fact it was his home. Peevy was donating the pre-Civil War home that was occupied by his family at the corner of what is now Mayfield Road and Bethany Road. He also presented the home of his grandmother, which had been moved to the 1.5-acre property as well.
Both will be maintained by the Alpharetta Historical Society, but they will be living monuments. Both houses are now rental properties. The proceeds will go to the preservation of the houses and such projects as the AHS is able to undertake.
“My sole motivation was to preserve these houses and the history they represent,” Peevy said.
Standing in the yard where he once played as a child, Peevy talked about his grandparents Bascom and Oma Spence, who bought the 1840s farmhouse on the corner almost 100 years ago in 1918. The home has had additions, the most recent in 2006 after a terrible fire.
It was here that Ruth Spence Peevy Wills was born in 1920. Mrs. Wills was a lifelong resident of Alpharetta and one of the city’s leading citizens. She lived in that farmhouse near Crabapple where she was born.
After graduating from Milton High School, she was a secretary to Hammond Springs Elementary School Principal Mary Thompson. With Thompson’s encouragement, she took her first college course at age 30.
Wills eventually attended six colleges and universities. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education from North Georgia College and a master’s degree in school administration. She became a third-grade school teacher at Hammond before receiving her undergraduate degree. She later rose to be principal of Hopewell Elementary School before obtaining her master’s degree. She was the only teacher/administrator allowed to have the distinction of earning her degrees “on the job.”
When Hopewell School was closed, she then became an assistant principal at Haynes Bridge Middle School in Alpharetta until her retirement.
What remains of the surrounding farmland Peevy’s mother owned will be built out as a residential subdivision and named Ruth’s Farm in her memory.
Peevy’s Scots-Irish ancestors have lived in the Milton area since the 1840s. The two homes have appraised at $450,000.
Alpharetta Historical Society President Nan Harman-Dempsey called it a “magnanimous gift” that will be a meaningful part of the AHS’s future as well as a link to its past.
“This was totally out of the blue. We’re all about preservation. We grew up with these families, so we are thrilled to have this bequest because of the history associated with it,” Harman-Dempsey said.
“The money we’ll receive from the property will go to help our preservation efforts. We are proud that Col. Peevy entrusted this to us.”