Land lots 114, 115, 116, 140, 141, 142 and 158
Fulton County, City of Atlanta
|The following descriptive document was
submitted to the Atlanta Urban Design Commission in 1990:
Tuxedo Park has evolved from woodlands and farms to summer estates of affluent Atlantans to a prestigious, year-round residential neighborhood. Subdivision for residential development occurred in different phases over a period of more than 50 years and was promoted primarily by the Tuxedo Park and Valley Road companies of Charles H. Black, Sr., as well as the Ferry Road Development Company.
While this process resulted in the erection of structures of varied architectural styles, the natural environment, which has been reshaped by settlers, provides continuity to the district as a whole. The siting of homes on large lots is often such that, from the street, there is nothing to be seen of the house itself. Old or new, the houses are nestled into the woods or beyond a rise, so that a park-like atmosphere is achieved. In addition to the historical pattern of development, the landscaping is a unifying factor and a most distinctive characteristic of the area.
The proposed Tuxedo Park Historic District lies in the northwest quadrant of Atlanta in the area known as Buckhead. It comprises part of the 17th District of Fulton County, and falls within the following Land Lots: 114, 115, 116, 140, 141, 142, and 158. The proposed district includes properties fronting on the north and south sides of West Paces Ferry Road from Chatham Road on the east to Moores Mill Road on the west; also properties fronting on the east and west sides of Tuxedo Road, and on the north and south sides of Tuxedo Road from West Paces Ferry Road north, northeast and north to Blackland Road; also properties fronting on the east and west sides of Northside Drive from West Paces Ferry Road on the south to Blackland Road on the north; also properties at the northeast corner of West Paces Ferry Road and Northside Drive and property located at 675 West Paces Ferry Road; also properties fronting on the east and southeast sides and the west and northwesterly side of Habersham Road from West Paces Ferry Road on the south to the intersection of Valley Road on the northeast; also properties fronting on the east and west sides of Valley Road from Habersham Road on the south to property known as 291 Valley Road on the northwest; also properties fronting on the north and south sides of Blackland Road from the southeast corner of Blackland Road and Valley Road and extending westerly to properties known as numbers 280 and 281 Blackland Road; also property known as number 3364 Knollwood Drive; also properties known as numbers 3325 and 3351 Woodhaven Road.
DEVELOPMENT HISTORY/HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE
In the mid-1800s, the land to the northwest of the newly but rapidly developing town of Atlanta was forest and farmland for the white inhabitants who had displaced the native American Indians. Old Paces Ferry Road was the chief highway north of Atlanta during the days of the Indians. Roads in the area led to nearby Chattahoochee River crossings and mills on smaller creeks. Some of these mills could be found along Nancy Creek which runs along a portion of the northwest boundary of the district.
During the Civil War, William T. Sherman's Federal troops marched through and camped in fields near West Paces Ferry Road, then called simply Paces Ferry Road. Paces Ferry Road east of Moores Mill Road was part of the original Peachtree Road which was a major trade and transportation route and led to Fort Peachtree. Built in 1814, Fort Peachtree (also called Fort Gilmer) occupied the site of Standing Peachtree, a principal Creek Indian town (extant during the Revolutionary War) located along the banks of the Chattahoochee River and Peachtree Creek. The ferry service Hardy Pace established in the early 1830s save the road its newer name, which subsequently became West Paces Ferry Road in the late 1950s.
The area remained rural until wealthy Atlantans began to build summer homes along Paces Ferry Road, approximately between the years 1904 and 1907. The hills and trees made the district ideal for a retreat from the bustling city life six miles south. The summer homes were placed on large tracts of land between 75 and 250 acres each. One of these homes, a stone residence, was built for Robert F. Maddox, banker, civic leader and soon-to-be-mayor, who had purchased a large tract of land in 1904 from James. L. Dickey, Sr. Seven years later he moved the stone residence to a new site on Habersham Road. On the original site, he built "Woodhaven", a rambling Tudor style mansion, amidst old oak trees.
Dickey's son, James L. Dickey, Jr. (Maddox's best friend) built "Arden" (designed by Hentz, Reid and Adler) in 1917 to replace his father's original home. By 1920, five more leading Atlanta citizens had built permanent residences in the area, including the estates of William H. Kiser ("Knollwood", designed by Philip T. Shutze), William Bailey Lamar ("Newcastle", designed by George O. Totten, Jr., on the site of Hardy Pace's 1820s home), Henry S. Jackson, Edward H. Alsop, Morris Brandon, and James W. Morrow . All the estates, but Brandon's and Morrow's, still stand. These successful men had lived within blocks of each other on or near Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta before moving to Paces Ferry Road.
Much of the property upon which these estates were built, like Maddox's, had been James Dickey's. Dickey purchased his 400 acre farm, consisting primarily of Land Lots 141 and 142, from F.M. Powers in 1903. Prior to Powers' ownership, the property at one time had belonged to James H. Smith. Smith died in 1872 owning Land Lots 141 and 142. His is the oldest tombstone in what is now known as the Harmony Grove Cemetery which was originally a family cemetery and still exists at the southwest corner of West Paces Ferry and Chatham Road. (The frame Harmony Grove Church once stood next to the cemetery.)
More subdivision of James Dickey's, Sr.'s property took place after his death in 1910. The Tuxedo Park Company bought the remainder of his estate in 1911 for $75,000 and put parcels fronting West Paces Ferry Road up for sale at prices ranging from $2,000 to $2,150 per acre. The size of the lots averaged 250 feet in width and 700 to 1500 feet in depth. According to Franklin Garrett in Atlanta and Environs, the (Atlanta) Journal heralded the "Pace's Ferry-Tuxedo Road" development on May 14, 1911, a few days before the auction of the lots. The newspaper article praised the property as being "probably the most ideal building site in the territory of North Atlanta, or, for that matter, in the South." The article waxed eloquent about the unrivaled beauty of Paces Ferry Road and deemed the development already there to be in first place among other Atlanta suburban developments. Reported also was the Tuxedo Park Company's intent to limit the number of lots sold "in order that each purchaser may have a maximum amount of room . ... Under such conditions no builder would be tempted to erect his home nearer than 400 feet from the street, and, in fact, the natural building sites on all these lots lie approximately this far from the roadway."
The intent was for city people to build country homes, but it was not until after 1920 that more homes started to be built and the character of the area changed from country estate to residential suburb. The increase in suburban development was enhanced by the increased popularity and availability of the automobile. The "roadways" and "driveways" of Tuxedo Park were advertised as "charted (graveled) and practically free of dust. Their picturesque qualities as scenic drives were touted.
Although public transportation was available along Peachtree Street, the neighborhood was accessed by automobile. Homeowners motored to their jobs in the city via Peachtree Road, Spring Street, and increasingly Northside Drive. By 1928, developer Charles Palmer, developer of downtown office buildings, was speaking of avoiding the "congestion which now exists on Spring Street" by motoring from one's home on Paces Ferry Road, Peachtree Road, or "Mr. Rivers subdivision" (Peachtree Heights Park) to the downtown financial district via Northside Drive. Property owners continued to come from Atlanta's elite society, and homes continued to be fine ones.
The pattern of development that followed after 1920 was similar to patterns established in earlier Atlanta neighborhoods such as Inman and Ansley parks, and Druid Hills. The two major streets of Tuxedo Park, Valley Road and Tuxedo Road, were laid out to follow the terrain in curvilinear fashion, with subsequent building and landscaping taking advantage of the natural environment. One reason this picturesque type of setting was desired in Tuxedo Park was because many of the new residents were moving from the aforementioned older neighborhoods.
By 1928, the Tuxedo Park Company had purchased and divided into single lots land in Land Lots 115 and 116. A 1931 survey shows how the company subdivided its remaining holdings in Land Lot 141 (purchased in 1911). A 1931 plat drawn for the Tuxedo Park Company and Valley Road Company shows vacant parcels along Blackland Road, Northside Drive, what came to be called Knollwood Drive, and ones along Tuxedo and Valley. The company had subdivided its remaining holdings in Land Lot 141 (from its 1911 purchase) and was offering for sale lots of "generous depth" from 100 to 300 feet wide.
The sales/publicity brochure went on to state: "Roads are paved with concrete and improvements are modern and complete, including electric lights, city water, telephone and on some of the lots, city gas. The area is restricted and the preservation of the beauty and the architecture of the section will rigidly observed." Also mentioned were the "rolling hills of virgin forest, purling rills and murmuring streams," and "budding trees, wild shrubs and flowers."
Documents show the Tuxedo Park and Valley Road companies' and Charles Black's continuing ownership and promotion of property in Land Lots 115, 116, 140, and 141 (as well as further north, beyond the proposed district, in Land Lots 117 and 139). Real estate records indicate that the Charles H. Black family and the Tuxedo Park Company held on to and continued to sell vacant parcels primarily to private individuals into the 1950s. Thus, even most of the post-1941 houses were part of the same development. Sales and construction were interrupted by the severe economic depression of the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s.
Coinciding with development by Tuxedo Park/Valley Road companies, the Ferry Road Development Company was subdividing property in Land Lots 114 and 115. These parcels fronted the east side of Habersham Road and the north side of Paces Ferry Road just east of its intersection with Habersham.
Subdivision continued in the same pattern into the 1950s (i.e. large estates were divided into smaller ones), although during the World War II years construction was not permitted.
In 1963, Robert Maddox sold "Woodhaven" and about 20 acres to the state of Georgia. While the state saved the extensive gardens, it demolished the house and built the present Governor's mansion. Mr. Maddox's daughter, Laura Maddox Smith, and her husband, Edward, built their home on Woodhaven Road in 1940. The road acquired its name from the Maddox estate and runs through property Maddox once owned.
During the 1950s, "Knollwood", the Kiser estate next to the Maddox estate, was subdivided. The road running north from West Paces Ferry Road on the east side of the Kiser Property took the name of that estate also. "Knollwood" still stands, though its grounds have been diminished and no longer extend to West Paces Ferry. Most of the earliest (and largest) estates are still used as residences. A small percentage of original homes have been replaced.
ARCHITECTURAL AND CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE
The styles of architecture in the Tuxedo Park Historic District include those of English, French, and Mediterranean influence to Colonial Revival. This diversity is integrated by the landscape design--most of which is English or naturalistic in treatment. Whether designed by architect or gardener, lawns are broad and abundant with hardwoods, pine and flowering trees, shrubs, flower gardens and walks, all informally arranged. There are some exceptions: grounds of the various villas are planted more formally than those of the Tudor or Georgian styled homes.
Those persons who originally built in the Tuxedo Park Historic District were Atlanta's "movers and shakers" -- from Hardy Pace, pioneer settler and ferry operator, to second generation property owners like Robert W. Woodruff, the Coca-Cola magnate who purchased the Georgian estate Charles H. King built in the 1930s on Tuxedo Road. The list of residents reads like a list of "Who's Who in Atlanta." Members of some of the original families still live in the same homes or in the area. Among the early residents were the following:
Through their work these men, and many others not included above, contributed to the prosperous economy of Atlanta. They rewarded themselves and their families by building grand homes on large, beautifully landscaped lots. The architects chosen to design the homes of the Tuxedo Park District were some of Atlanta's and the nation's most prominent. The architectural firm which included, at one time or another, Hal Fitzgerald Hentz, Rudolph Sartorius Adler, Neel Reid, and Philip Trammel Shutze, was responsible for at least 11 designs within the district. Those are:
The principal designer for the firm of Hentz, Reid and Adler was Neel Reid (18851926). Reid came to Atlanta from Macon, Georgia in 1904 to work in the office of Willis Franklin Denney. With his future partner, Hal Hentz, Reid then went to Columbia University's School of Architecture and from there to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Both men returned to Atlanta in 1909 and briefly practiced with G.L. Norman. From 1909 until 1912, they practiced as Hentz and Reid. From 1913 until 1926, the firm consisted of Hentz, Reid, Adler and Shutze. It was Shutze who inherited the position as principal designer after Reid's premature death in 1926 and who, in a long and distinguished career, became America's finest classicist.
The firm of Pringle & Smith designed "Villa Juanita" (1923) at 509 West Paces Ferry Road for the Robert Hungerford family, as well as "Pine Top" (1925) for William E. Huger on Valley Road, now number 95. Cooper & Cooper designed "Marcan Hall" (1934) for S.C. Dobbs, Jr. now number 65 Valley Road, the Howell-Kilpatrick House (1932) at 400 West Paces Ferry, and the residence of Malon Courts at 3795 Tuxedo Road. Aymar Embury II designed "Broadlands" at 3600 Northside Drive in 1931. In 1933, Aymar Embury designed the Richardson-Howell House at 675 West Paces Ferry. Walter T. Downing, James Owen Southwell, Will Griffin, and James Shepherd were other designers who had clients in the area. However, the majority of the contributing structures in the Tuxedo and Valley roads area were designed by the architectural firm of Frazier and Bodin.
Charles Earl Frazier (1884-1939) and Daniel Herman Bodin (1895-1963) formed a partnership in the late 1920s. The firm designed about 125 district office buildings in 11 states for the Life of Georgia Company, in addition to many residential structures. The estate of Asa G. Candler, Jr., "Briarcliff ," and its zoo, were designed by the pair also. Architect Charles Frazier was a friend of Charles H. Black, Sr. who headed the Tuxedo Park Company and the Valley Road Company. The main construction firm which was employed was that of Black's son, Charles H. Black, Jr. Monroe's Landscape & Nursery Company did much of the landscape work, although landscape designs were done by architects, owners, and landscape architects alike.
Frazier, who primarily handled the construction management end of projects, was a native Georgian educated in Atlanta public schools and at Georgia Tech. Before establishing his own practice in 1907, Frazier worked in the firms of Edwards & Walter, and Haralson Bleckley. Frazier's practice included the design of banks and deluxe apartment buildings, among them the Blackstone Court Apartments. His offices before the Depression took up almost a whole floor of the Candler Building. After the Depression, he continued to maintain a small office there. Frazier was respected as an architect and as a public-spirited citizen.
Bodin was born in Sweden and studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University) in Pittsburgh where he met the renown architect Henry Hornbostel. Hornbostel was hired by Asa Candler shortly after World War I to design Emory University. (And he later designed "Callanwolde" for another Candler.) Bodin was put in charge of the Atlanta office for the Emory job, and, at its completion, joined Frazier as a draftsman. He eventually handled most of the design work for the firm, although he was known to be adept at every aspect the profession entailed. Bodin also designed about a hundred school buildings in the Atlanta area, as well as homes in Ansley Park and Griffin, Georgia. After Frazier's death, Bodin eventually formed a partnership with Willard Lamberson.
In the late 1920s and the 1930s, Frazier & Bodin designed many Tuxedo Park residences for the wealthy Atlantans seeking more picturesque and prestigious addresses. These designs include homes for the following:
All but the Charles Black, Sr. home still stand. Old advertisements identify other companies which had moderate to major involvement in the construction of homes in Tuxedo Park. The Driveway Company, Inc. built many driveways for homes in area; M. Dwoskin & Sons did painting and wallpapering; and Carroll B. McGaughey was the electrical contractor.
The history of landscape design in Tuxedo Park is as significant and varied as the area's architectural history. The first landscaping effort to receive great notice was the terraced garden of the Maddox estate. These terraces which still exist were created by Mrs. Maddox with only "a man and a mule" to assist her.
From the early nineteen hundreds until the present time, a number of notable nurserymen and landscape architects have worked in the area. Talented nurseryman, W. L. Monroe, was essentially responsible for the character of Habersham which is defined by sweeping lawns and masses of evergreens.
Robert C. Cridland of Philadelphia, who adopted the practice of many northern landscape architects and journeyed south in the winter months, created several of the early gardens. Norman C. Butts, a native of New York who graduated from Cornell University, established a practice in Atlanta; the grounds of 'Knollwood" were his design. W. C. Pauley who arrived around 1913 worked extensively throughout the city. His residential work included gardens in Tuxedo Park, Druid Hills and Peachtree Heights Park. Other who contributed their talents to the landscape of Tuxedo Park include: Nelson Crisp, the horticulturist; W. L. Monroe, Jr., a trained landscape architect who followed in his father's footsteps; Eugene Martini and Harry Baughman. In recent years, Edward L. Daugherty, Atlanta's preeminent landscape architect has worked extensively in the area.
The architects Neel Reid and Philip Trammell Shutze also created gardens to compliment the residences they designed. Although several of the large, formal landscapes have been destroyed, many small examples of their work remain such as Shutze's walled garden at the side of the Julian Carr House.
Beginning with the sale of portions of large farms and estates and their subsequent subdivision, the formation of Tuxedo Park took place. Development was spurred by several factors. First, the road that is now West Paces Ferry had a long history as a major trade and transportation route. Additionally, the general growth of Atlanta itself was northward along Peachtree Road, and the street railway extended to Buckhead in 1907.
Connected with this movement but an important impetus in and of itself was the purchase of property by Atlanta mayor Robert Maddox from his best friend's father along West Paces Ferry Road, and the subsequent move by Maddox of his permanent home from downtown to West Paces Ferry Road. His move encouraged moves by his friends and acquaintances as well. Wealthy men were taking advantage of the automobile to make the daily commute and the low cost of home construction to build fine year-round residences. They, or their heirs, would take advantage later of escalating real estate prices by further subdividing their land.
Where newer structures are visible between the old, one is able to interpret the progression of development by simple observation. Tuxedo Park Historic District was the result of investments by the Ferry Road, the Tuxedo Park and Valley Road Development companies as well as realtor Charles H. Black, Sr. Beginning in 1911, land was subdivided slowly and made available to the public.
Tuxedo Park Historic is unified throughout by history, culture, the natural environment and the quality of its built environment. It is a unique segment of Atlanta's developmental history and present day residential environments. The post-1941 structures in the district occupy property that was originally subdivided much earlier, and by the same development company that sold property to earlier residents. For the most part, the newer structures are of a size, quality and character which complement the district. The historic environment, especially the historic landscape setting, is intact, maintaining Tuxedo Park's position as one of Atlanta's most prestigious and lovely neighborhoods.
Atlanta has many residential neighborhoods which reflect the suburban ideals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Inman Park, Ansley Park, and Druid Hills being among the notable. However, Tuxedo Park stands apart as an outstanding example in the city of an area of suburban estates, built by wealthy civic and business leaders, where extensive grounds provided park-like settings for each residence. The siting of grand homes on very large lots along pre-existing roads made possible a subtle reshaping of a picturesque landscape. Dogwoods and azaleas, ivy beds and oak groves marked the newly tamed woodland environment.
Atlanta Business Chronicle, "Buckhead's World-Class Appeal." (Paid advertising supplement in the "Business Edition," no date.)
Atlanta Historical Society:
Atlanta Urban Design Commission, Atlanta's Lasting Landmarks. Atlanta: the Commission, 1987. Also: map and research material on West Paces Ferry area.
Fulton County Courthouse, Plat Books
Garrett, Franklin M. Atlanta and Environs. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1954.
Grady, James. Architecture of Neel Reid in Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1973.
Peachtree Garden Club, Garden History of Georgia.1733-1933. Atlanta: Walter W. Brown Publishing Company, 1933. Reprinted 1976.
Smith, Laura Maddox: Personal Interview, November 6, 1989.
State Historic Preservation Office: "Historic Resources of West Paces
Ferry Road" National Register Nomination Form, Daniel Herman Bodin file, consultation with Kenneth H. Thomas (historian).