Long-time Dunwoody residents Jim and Melanie Williams, past presidents of DPT, have led the concept and funding of this project since its unexpected start in 2018. That year, during the rehabilitation of the Donaldson-Bannister Farm, it was discovered that one of the property’s red oak trees had died. The City of Dunwoody (which owns the Donaldson-Bannister Farm) removed the top of the tree, leaving a standing 20-foot trunk. Initially, the plan was to carve the upright trunk in place, but after an arborist’s inspection and boring, it was determined that the tree was not stable enough and had to be cut down. Sculptor Williams advised DPT to have the trunk cut into thick slabs which could be cured and used to create a linear carving.
In January 2020 the tree was removed, taken away and cut into slabs to dry outdoors until it was time for the drying kiln. The pandemic slowed the process considerably; however, it allowed time to prepare the conceptual sketch for The Dunwoody Diorama. The sketch went through multiple iterations as it was reviewed by historians, local non-profits, the City of Dunwoody, and others with expertise. The final sketch was approved in early 2022 and carving began a few months later in August.
When completed, The Dunwoody Diorama will be mounted under the side porch roof of the newer barn at the Donaldson-Bannister Farm, facing Chamblee Dunwoody Road. It will be lighted, secured and will measure approximately 19’L x 3’H. It will be available for viewing by the public during the park hours of 7AM until sundown. Self-guided tours will be available via QR codes and brochures as well as pre-scheduled DPT-guided tours. Several children’s books will be published in the next year about various elements of The Dunwoody Diorama to pique their interest in history, along with the use of augmented reality software to bring parts of the sculpture to life.
Dunwoody Preservation Trust is working on plans for a regional history museum to be located in Dunwoody and hopes to use The Dunwoody Diorama as a foundation of that endeavor. “This extraordinary and unique work of art will be an important educational tool and will be enjoyed by all for generations,” said Jim and Melanie Williams.