The Druid Hills Neighborhood is quite old and is home to a large number of Atlanta's historical and cultural landmarks. One of these is the home that was used in the filming of the Academy Award winning movie "Driving Miss Daisy". Two architects, Lewis E. Crook Jr. and Ernest Ivey, made their mark on the neighborhood by designing a number of the homes in the area as well as Druid Hills High School, and many buildings on the Emory University campus. Crook and Ivey were influenced by architect Neal Reid whom they worked under before establishing their own firm. Other architects included Philip Shutze, Walter Downing, Thomas Windham, and Arthur Neal Robinson Sr. Druid Hills, planned by America's most famous landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted, is a tree-shaded neighborhood of winding streets and small parks. Beginning in 1900, many of Atlanta's wealthiest citizens chose to live in Druid Hills. They hired some of Atlanta's most noted architects to design their homes. The result is an eclectic mix of architectural styles nestled into the curving topography of the neighborhood. The National Register of Historic Places recognizes Druid Hills.
DeKalb County Schools: Fernbank Elementary and Druid Hills High School. City of Atlanta Schools: Mary Linn Elementary and Inman Middle School. Private schools include Paideia and the Howard School.
History of Druid Hills
In 1812, the area now known as Druid Hills was surrendered by the Indians to the government of Georgia. The land was surveyed and sold in lots of 202.5 acres. Residents of Georgia drew for the lots through a lottery. The area now bordered by Ponce de Leon Avenue, Briarcliff Road, North Decatur Road and Lullwater Road was eventually sold to Joel Hurt's Kirkwood Land Company in 1890 for $63,000. It was his idea to develop a community centered around a golf course. Hurt continued to buy acreage, accumulating 1,492 wooded acres and hired Frederick Olmsted to plan and design the community. Joel Hurt sold his property in 1908, for $500,000 to a syndicate headed by Asa G. Candler. Asa Candler had made his fortune from Coca-Cola. The headline in the Atlanta Journal on May 19, 1908 read "DRUID HILLS, JOEL HURT PROPERY, SOLD FOR A COOL HALF MILLION; LARGEST SALE EVER RECORDED HERE." On June 25, 1908, the area officially became known as "Druid Hills" by the DeKalb County Superior Court through a charter that was granted to Asa Chandler's corporation.
Druid Hills Listed as a Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places
Fernbank Forest Bicentennial Conservation Covenant 1976
History of the Druid Hills Community Part I
History of the Druid Hills Community Part II
Frederick Law Olmsted
Joel Hurt wanted architect Frederick Olmsted to design an ideal garden residential community and hired the firm known as the Olmsted Brothers of Massachusetts. Frederick Olmsted was well known for designing Central Park and the grounds around the United States Capitol and the Biltmore Estate. Hurt wanted gentle curving avenues with naturalist landscaping. Olmsted was reluctant to take on this project at the age of seventy-one however, due to his declining health and the distance involved in traveling from Massachusetts. Frederick Olmsted designed a master landscape plan for Druid Hills which his stepson, John Charles Olmsted later modified and refined. Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture, laid out the neighborhood around a chain of linear parks along Ponce de Leon Avenue. The original plan called for a tourist hotel and two lakes. Charles Olmsted eliminated the hotel and lakes and added an electric street railway line adjacent to Ponce de Leon Avenue. Asa Candler persuaded Georgia Power to extend the streetcar line to the Druid Hills Golf Club by providing financial backing. Frederick Olmsted's plan for the Druid Hills development was not put into reality until after Olmsted passed away. The Druid Hills neighborhood attracted some of Atlanta's most influential families. The Candlers of Coca-Cola were most notable. Asa Candler headed the Druid Hills corporation and guided the community into an exclusive residential area. Building restrictions were rigid and enforced with each sale. Only residences could be constructed in Druid Hills (no stores, churches, schools, or businesses). Judge John S. Candler built one of the first homes and Asa Candler built a "palace" worth $100,000.
In addition to the linear parks along Ponce de Leon, other nearby parks include: the private Druid Hills Golf Club, Fernbank Forest and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, and Freedom Park. Freedom Park is located along Moreland Avenue between Ponce de Leon and Euclid Avenue. Also nearby is the PATH Atlanta-Stone Mountain Trail, an eighteen-mile bike trail that begins at Fifth Street at the Georgia Tech Campus and runs to Stone Mountain Park.
Burbanck Park, on the edge of Druid Hills and Emory Village, was dedicated on April 22, 2007. The park is located at the corner of Oxford and Clifton Roads. The park was named after Drs. Madeline and William Burbanck, Emory professors who lived in the home on the park site. The Burbanck house will be removed to provide additional natural space in 1.2 acre park, which borders Peavine Creek. Emory University purchased the site to transform it into a natural public area. This park is being developed through collaboration between the Druid Hills Civic Association, Watershed Alliance and Emory.
Art in Freedom Park
Art in Freedom Park is an initiative to explore the vast expanse of Freedom Park for the purpose of establishing a world-class gallery of temporary and permanent outdoor artwork that will be free and open to the citizens of Atlanta and its many visitors. The Discover Freedom Park initiative, which is overseen by the Art in Freedom Park Task Force of the Freedom Park Conservancy, Inc. (FPC), a Georgia non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, is a unique partnership of private and public organizations.
The curatorial panel met last Sunday to sift through the 70 or so applications. They hope to select approximately 30 installations/ sculptures that will be placed throughout Freedom Park, starting mid April. Launch date is Sunday, May 1st, running thorough September 2005.
The Atlanta Preservation Center offers walking tours on the history and architecture of the Druid Hills neighborhood twice-weekly March through November on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m. For more information, go to www.preserveatlanta.com/WalkingTours.htm.