Mystery at Rainbow Terrace

For those who haven't lived at Lullwater Estate, do you know about a mysterious and violent encounter here on our property, long ago? Rainbow Terrace, now the Lullwater Estate mansion, was built by Asa Candler (of Coca Cola fame) as a wedding gift for his daughter, Lucy, and her husband, Henry Heinz. And that's perhaps the least interesting part of their story. His sudden death and the subsequent investigation provide a fascinating story, one of those "stranger than fiction" tales.

We assembled some vintage newspaper articles and book chapters dealing with this story. It's been put into a PDF: Heinz Murder Mystery

And if you ever see a gray-haired man floating around near the mansion, well, of course we don't believe in ghosts,....or do we?

History: Lullwater Estate, Originally Rainbow Terrace

The mansion portion of the Lullwater Estate was built in 1922, for Lucy Candler Heinz, by her husband, Henry Heinz. Lucy had the good fortune to be the daughter of Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler, whose extended family scattered mansions around Atlanta, especially in Druid Hills and Inman Park. Henry Heinz was a banker, rising to become a Director and Vice-President of Citizens & Southern Bank. Lucy named her house Rainbow Terrace.

For about 20 years, Rainbow Terrace was a prominent feature on the Atlanta social scene. Besides the 12,000 square foot mansion, the property featured a swimming pool, tennis court, and even a playhouse built to resemble the mansion itself.

Mr. Heinz was murdered by a burglar in the library of the mansion, in September, 1943. About a year and a half later, a burglar arrested elsewhere in Atlanta was matched to fingerprints found in the investigation of the Heinz murder. He confessed to the murder, and was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

After the murder, Lucy moved from Rainbow Terrace, but some have questioned whether the spirit of the late Mr. Heinz actually ever left the estate.

The architect who designed Rainbow Terrace was G. Lloyd Preacher, who later built his own house just across Ponce De Leon Avenue from us (at 1627 South Ponce De Leon). Preacher also designed the Atlanta City Hall, completed in 1930.

Preacher turned to a Mediterranean style for the Soreno Hotel (razed) in St. Petersburg, Florida, a favorite style that he had adopted for some Atlanta houses. His own residence in Druid Hills (1924) is a picturesque neo-Spanish villa across the street from Rainbow Terrace (1921-22), a Mediterranean-style villa that Preacher built for Lucy Candler Heintz [sic], the daughter of Coca-Cola magnate and real estate entrepreneur Asa Candler.

The evidence that our mansion is haunted was reviewed in a 1987 article in GSU's Signal magazine:

Then, of course, there’s Atlanta’s most famous haunted mansion, Rainbow Terrace, now the Lullwater Estate on Ponce de Leon Road. Built to resemble a Spanish-Mediterranean villa, the large white stucco house with its dark orange tile roof was built in 1922 by barber [sic; probably meant 'banker'] Henry Heinz as a gift to his wife, socialite Lucy Candler, daughter of Coca-Cola company founder and one-time Atlanta Mayor Asa Candler. After Heinz was shot in 1943 by a burglar in what was to become one of Atlanta’s most notorious murder cases, Lucy Heinz could no longer bear to live on the property where she had shared such happy times with her husband.

By the 1960s and ‘70s, Rainbow Terrace had become a boarding house in which James S. Jenkins describes in his 1981 book “Murder In Atlanta” as owned by “an eccentric lady” who occupied the downstairs and rented out the second story, garage, and out-building as apartments. It was during this period that word began to circulate that the ghost of Henry Heinz was roaming the grounds.

Renters and neighbors claimed that they would see someone, perhaps a prowler, wandering the mansion grounds, but when they moved closer to the figure, no one was there. They also claimed to hear mysterious pistol shots as if someone was shooting target-practice, but again when they went to investigate, no one was there.

As the house lay vacant through the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, growing more and more deteriorated and overgrown, a grim fate looked likely for the once-grand mansion. That is, until the Metzler Muirhead Wright development corporation acquired the property, renovated the house, painted it pink, split it into condominiums, and erected a large $7 million townhouse project around it.

Does Heinz’s ghost still roam the grounds? Well, most Lullwater Estate residents have not reported any ghostly occurrences. However, James Giblin, who now lives in the part of the house that includes the old library where Heinz was shot, did say that three very unusual and unexplained things did happen in his home within the first year he lived there(Giblin lived in unit 2 at the time this was written).

Right before Christmas in 1984, Giblin carefully hung up some holiday greenery on his mantelpiece. He went out, came back and found all the garlands on the floor, he said.

A few days later, his Christmas tree, also firmly erected, suddenly fell. Then finally a few weeks later in the middle of the night, a glass shelf crashed onto the floor, shattering some precious crystal and porcelain.

“I don’t believe in haunted houses,” Giblin said, “but something weird was going on. For those things to happen in such a short period of time just really didn’t make a lot of sense.”

Was it Heinz’s ghost making one last statement?