They left their mark on Atlanta long ago with homes that have stood the test of time. Now you can get a firsthand look inside the designs of some of Atlanta’s most notable architects as they headline an exceptional line up for the 2018 Druid Hills Tour of Homes and Gardens.
It’s a banner year for the tour, which celebrates its 50th anniversary and commemorates the 80th anniversary of the Druid Hills Civic Association (DHCA). The events present a chance to discover new stories of the community’s history told by its public structures, treasured homes, private greenspaces and longtime residents.
It’s no small feat to keep a tour like this running for 50 years. It began in 1968 as a joint effort between the Lullwater Garden Club and the DHCA.
“I’m privileged to work along-side many committee members who have been at this for 10, 15 and even 20 years.” said Ryan Graham, Tour Chair. “It brings the neighborhood together and allows us the opportunity to give back.”
History Happens Here
Unique to this tour is the premiere of “Druid Hills: History Happens Here.” The documentary features the stories and memorabilia shared by longtime residents of the community.
Author, writer and keeper of much of the neighborhood’s archives and history, Jennifer Richardson, is a participant in the film. She came to Druid Hills at age three, graduated from its schools and has remained close to the community since. Richardson says there is rich history many residents and visitors don’t know.
“The tour is an elaborate operation showcasing interior design and color scheme, architecture and modern renovations,”
This year, meet six exceptional homes. Each is a piece of history with a personality so powerful their residents have named them over time.
Among the stars, find creations by Neel Reid, a prominent Atlanta architect from the early 20th century known for his design of the Old Scottish Rite Hospital in Decatur. Included on the tour is a home he designed for his mother and then lived in. “It’s Reid in his habitat,” said Richardson
Also featured is the work of Leila Ross Wilburn, a prolific architect from that era who pioneered women in the industry. Yovy Gonzalez, owner of a Wilburn on tour, “happened in” to his home’s heritage. Not knowing its origin, Gonzalez and his husband, Mike Dorsey, began renovations to make it fit the neighborhood better. Their project led to finding the home’s plans in a Wilburn book and early photographs of it from a prior owner. What began as a paint job ended with returning the home to its original façade.
“What I love about Druid Hills is the people who live here want to honor the homes,” Gonzalez said. “This house is going to be here long after we’re gone. This is one of the last remaining neighborhoods with such a high percentage of original homes. That’s something we need to protect.”
The garden portion of the tour is apropos for Druid Hills, given how important greenspace was to the original layout of its designer, Frederick Olmsted. According to Richardson, “Druid Hills was a Mecca for several garden clubs, and the tour’s gardens continue the trend of beautiful landscapes.”
This year’s six gardens to visit include a labyrinth and the site of the historic Durand Mill, with its 120-foot waterfall.
The tour celebrates the entire community of Druid Hills and includes events celebrating the arts, schools and businesses in addition to the homes and gardens.
Find more info at druidhillstour.org.
Retreat Outdoors to the Garden
Check out these surprisingly serene outdoor spaces just a few miles from the bustle of downtown Atlanta:
1214 Villa Drive
“Villa Mira Flores”
This “house of flowers” is on the National Register of Historic Places. Hardscapes include raised walls, arched openings, pond and bat house.
938 Springdale Road– Saturday Only
A grotto features a sculpture from artist Corrina Sephora. The focal point of the garden is a labyrinth: a gentle path used for walking meditation.
965 Springdale Road
“The Woodland Garden”
The yard was the capstone project for its owner earning a certificate in landscape design from Emory University.
1775 South Ponce de Leon Avenue
Set on two acres overlooking the Frazer woodlands, the property features a screened treehouse and numerous natural outdoor rooms.
393 The Falls Court
This property is the site of the historic 1830 Durand Mill with its 120-foot waterfall. A one mile nature trail wanders through its forest.
940 Clifton Road
Asiatic jasmine and Korean boxwoods set the scene in front, while the garden rooms in back include a native Azalea garden.
Dream Home Past and Present
Take a peek at history updated with modern luxury in these homes on tour:
“Casa di Quattro Ragazzi”
163 North Decatur Road
Original plans can be found in Wilburn’s Ideal Homes of Today. A major exterior renovation in the mid-1960’s left little resemblance. Using a photo of the home from the 40’s to 60’s, current owners were able to bring its original look back with a restoration.
1196 Springdale Road
“Through the Looking Glass”
A Neel Reid design, this home shares similarities to his work on Old Scottish Rite Hospital. Its 2003 renovation took care to maintain the original footprint. A family room was added in 2014 using the Reid-designed hospital ward buildings as inspiration.
1210 Springdale Road
Ernest Woodruff was one of the first owners of this home. Significant focus has been paid to the kitchen, master bath and guest house in its ensuing renovations. They are matched with antique furnishings, chandeliers, rugs and a show-stopping art collection.
1436 Fairview Road
“Original Home of J. Neel Reid, Architect”
This Neel Reid design is special because he also resided here. He selected a Connecticut home designed by Charles Platt as inspiration. Current owners have updated and modernized while maintaining its original footprint.
2010 North Ponce De Leon Avenue
“The Beehive House”
Enter this English Manor Style Tudor into a domed octagonal foyer providing the central conduit to the dining room, living room, den, kitchen and second story. Don’t miss the architectural details in its 2017 kitchen addition.
2086 North Ponce de Leon Ave
This Wilburn creation underwent a 2016 renovation to restore its original look with a Spanish tile roof and enhance it with modern luxuries. Its design and décor are inspired by a California boutique hotel to create the ambiance of vacation in everyday living.
Pro Tips for 2018 Tour
Dates: April 20 to 22
Times: Friday 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Trolley and Route Info: Visit homes, gardens and other events as desired. Trolley service is available.
Pre-order Tickets: Druidhillstour.org/ticketoutlets
Will Call: Lucky Dog restaurant in Emory Village Plaza
Purchase Tickets: Lucky Dog restaurant (cash or credit) or at any home on the day of the tour (cash only)
$20 per person for groups of 6 or more
$25 per person pre-sale ends Thursday, April 19
$30 per person when purchased any days of the tour
by Mel Selcho
Photography by Deana Kingsbury and Joshua Vensel