Ingenuity and design highlight the comeback of the Druid Hills Home and Garden Tour
THIS APRIL marks 200 years since the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the most pivotal figures to shape the landscapes of the city parks and neighborhoods we hold dear. Atlanta’s historic Druid Hills is one of four neighborhoods lucky enough to be an Olmsted original.
Which makes this year’s comeback of the Druid Hills Home and Garden Tour after a two-year hiatus that much more special.
This year’s tour includes both a week of events and a collection of new, period and reimagined homes that showcase the ingenuity of human development. The volunteers and organizers hope it inspires the community and attendees to reconnect to the historic origins of the area and look with fresh eyes and ideas at their own spaces.
The April 29 to May 1 tour will be one of many Atlanta events to coincide with a nationwide celebration of 200 years of Olmsted. Among the events will be a gala at Callanwolde on April 26 and an artist’s market in Dellwood Park on April 30.
“Druid Hills is a national treasure, not so much due to the architecture of the homes – which are magnificent and historically significant in their own right – but due to the landscape architecture of Frederick Law Olmsted,” said Kit Eisterhold, tour chair. He and a team of volunteers, homeowners, architects and designers have been fast at work to bring the tour to reality.
The most famous is likely the Lullwater Road home where “Driving Miss Daisy” was filmed, but there are also spectacular renovations of High Tudor, Italian Renaissance Revival and English cottage homes. All 12mhomes are within the plan originally laid out by Olmsted around the turn of the century, orchestrated around the linear park(s) he personally designed to be the heart and soul of the neighborhood.
The effect of the development in the neighborhood is in keeping with one of the prevailing design concepts and attributes of Druid Hills homes – every house is different and has its own unique design features. Find the conversion of the Druid Hills Methodist Church to condominiums as case-in-point of this principle.
Eisterhold said that is one of the things he values most about not only the homes but the variety of the designers who have been enlisted to modernize the historic homes.
While invited many times to do so, the owners of the famed “Driving Miss Daisy” home had been reluctant to put their home on previous tours because the couple had young children. The family has grown and this year when Eisterhold asked, owner Cyndy Roberts didn’t say no. After thinking about it, “it just seemed like the right thing to do.”
“It’s not a show house,” Roberts says as she describes a home where she “loves it all…We live in this house. We use the living room every day, we eat in the dining room every night.”
Guests will be able to see the checkered black and white marble foyer, one of Robert’s favorite parts of the house, which turns 100 this year. And a fun fact she adds is that things have appeared in the gardens over the years as one of the previous owners would use just about anything for mulch, including hair brushes and shoes.
Longtime supporters of the tour, the Critz family has owned this beauty for decades, cultivating one of the most stunning gardens in the South. In early to mid-spring, flowers bloom from more than 70,000 bulbs. The garden is expected to be a showstopper.
1738 South Ponce de Leon
Yvonne McFadden of Yvonne McFadden Interiors said the family wanted larger spaces for the primary bedroom and family room,
and a larger kitchen with big windows to watch the kids as they cook. Yet there were many details worthy of preservation.
“We tried to stay true to the home’s architecture,” said McFadden. “The trim details that
were not salvageable were replicated to bring up to code” citing the staircase handrails and spindles as an example. “Thankfully we were able to salvage the parlor’s bookcase and mantle.”
“I grew up with an Italian mother who instilled a love for cooking at an early age,” said Lauren Williams, who owns the home
with her husband Jeff. “When designing this kitchen I wanted to make sure it was approachable for young and eager helping hands. We had a learning tower stool built to match the cabinetry where my two daughters can stand and actively participate. They love baking with me and ‘sprinkling in love’ into our creations.”
2026 North Ponce de Leon
Architect Karen Soorikian said this redesign was about living in a new era, with need for more space and a desire for higher ceilings.
“Ours was a very localized project,” she said. The house had already undergone a redesign. Soorikian, who was a history major
before earning her architecture degree explained, “What we were doing was modifying that room.to be a breakfast room.” They
ended up a modern mud-room, laundry area and wine room. They were also able to achieve tall ceilings and large arched canopies.
“I’ve been so lucky to be able to do this,” said Soorikian of her involvement with this year’s tour. “To be able to be a part of keeping these houses beautiful and livable is amazing.”
While many of the homes renovations of existing historic homes, this residence is a rare new build in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. Designed with an eye toward historic authenticity by Dave Price and Jan Hallman, the home is shared by State Senator Elena Parent and her husband, Briley Brisendine.
Tickets for the tour are $35 for access to the 12 homes. Find more details at Druidhills.org or buy tickets at Eventbrite by searching “Druid Hills.”