(1904-1979) grew up in the
construction business. His father was a Macon, Ga., building contractor who moved his
family to Atlanta in 1906. In 1917, at the age of 13, Means got a job as a part-time
office boy at the famed architectural firm of Hentz, Reid and
Adler. Neel Reid, one of Georgia's
most beloved classical architects, began to teach him about architecture.
After graduating from Tech High School, Means enrolled in
architecture courses at the Georgia Institute of Technology, but he left without getting a
degree and returned as an apprentice to Reid. Although he went on to a 50-year successful
career, he was never a registered architect.
After Reid's early death in 1926, Philip
Shutze became the firm's lead designer. Means remained with him until 1950,
when Shutze closed the firm.
Means worked in Albany, Ga., in partnership with Edward Vason
Jones, another well-known American classicist, from 1950 to 1954. In
1954, he returned to Atlanta.
Throughout his career, he was known for quality of craftsmanship
and purity of detail. He often rescued and incorporated elements of older buildings into
His work frequently echoed early New England and tidewater
Virginia styles or historic European houses. He also was widely known for restoration and
From 1950 until his death in an automobile accident in 1979, he
was responsible for 49 houses and nine major remodelings. He also was the architect for
the state of Georgia for the reconstruction of 17 buildings at the plantation at Stone
In "The Houses of James Means"
(published in 1979 by the Fulton County Unit of the American Cancer Society and available
in the Atlanta History Center library) editor Callie Efird writes, "James
Means not only produced perfection, he taught perfection. If his clients did not know
architectural beauty before building, they certainly appreciated it afterwards."
A more recent book,
"The Architecture of James Means, Georgia Classicist," by
William R. Mitchell Jr., is available through the Atlanta Preservation
In Buckhead, Means houses include:
- 3218 Arden Road (1970)
- 356 Argonne Drive (1972)
- 3517 Dumbarton Road (1958)
- 3569 Dumbarton Road
- 3615 Dumbarton Road (1964)
- 700 Fairfield Road (1966)
- 3641 Paces Valley Road (1959)
- 3740 Paces Valley Road (1963)
- 765 Peachtree Battle Ave. (1966)
- 3420 Tuxedo Road
- 1727 West Paces Ferry