Historic Living… Atlanta’s First Housing Boom 1880 – 1930 Part 2

Smith-Benning House. Candler Park. Photo courtesy the National Register of Historic Places.

By the early 1900’s, Candler and George Adair Jr. were in a “real estate race”, building homes along their trolley lines. Each named a park and neighborhood after themselves. (Candler Park to the east and Adair Park to the south.) Both neighborhoods were targeted to working class, white families that could utilize the public transportation to reach downtown. Each neighborhood was dominated by the Arts and Crafts style bungalow homes. Often the same house plans were used.

East Lake Golf Club circa 1920 post card. Photo courtesy of thegolfballfactory.com

Adair Jr. came east and with his love of golf, built the East Lake Country Club (now the East Lake Golf Club), and developed lots for “county mansions”. The city of Atlanta began annexing the towns between, such as Edgewood and Kirkwood. Candler decided he would rather join him than beat him and proposed the two make a partnership to develop the land north of the rail line, along with Joel Hurt, who had developed Inman Park. Joel Hurt had begun plans for a new suburb between Atlanta and Decatur in 1894 and had engaged Frederick Law Olmstead Sr. to develop a plan where homes would be nestled around a series of linear parks. What is now Historic Druid Hills, had some planning and financial setbacks in the beginning. By the early 1900’s, Olmstead Sr. had retired and the Kirkwood Land Company then engaged his sons to finish the project. In 1908, Hurt’s Kirkwood Land Company sold the project to Candler’s Druid Hills Company. In 1914, the main campus of Emory University was developed to the north, moved from Oxford, Georgia, due to a generous donation from the Candler Family.

Home of George Adair in Druid Hills. Photo courtesy of Atlatna ARCHI/MAPS

The advent of the automobile began to shape the development of residential neighborhoods in Atlanta. Edwin Ansley built Ansley Park in competition to Inman Park and Druid Hills, which were “streetcar neighborhoods.” Ansley Park boasted wide parkways and circles for the affluent to drive their horseless-carriages. The Piedmont Driving Club, originally formed as a social club with carriages soon embraced the automobile as one more symbol of luxury; driving. Its proximity to Atlanta’s largest park, Piedmont Park and to the city center made it highly desirable to wealthy Atlantans. Most of the homes were constructed between 1905 and 1930 and boast a wide range of home styles from Federal to Georgian to Prairie Style. Though technically in competition to Druid Hills, the homes and lots were marketed by Forest and George Adair Jr.

Edwin Ansley’s personal home circa 1910. The Georgia Governor’s mansion from 1925-1967.
Home was demolished in 1969. Photo courtesy of the AJC.

From 1880 through 1930, there was a housing boom in Atlanta. As you can see though, controlled by a very small group of people. In our next installment, we will look at how the Great Depression and Second World War affected housing and real estate in Atlanta. 


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