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Column: Neighborhoods grew out of summertime ritual
by Thornton Kennedy
Northside Neighbor Columnist
June 27, 2012 06:15 PM | 1968 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thornton Kennedy
Thornton Kennedy

Logic dictates Buckhead’s neighborhoods should at least chronologically follow Peachtree Road starting just north of Ansley Park. They do not.

Brookwood Hills was not started until the 1920s. Same with Springlake. Collier Hills is a relative late bloomer.

 Peachtree Heights Park was Buckhead’s first planned neighborhood and is a few clicks up the road from Ansley Park. Around the same time in 1910, Brookhaven was being developed. It is arguably the northernmost neighborhood following the Peachtree line.

The answer is simple enough though completely foreign in our automobile- and airport-dependent city. In the early 1900s, well-heeled Atlantans retreated to Brookhaven to escape the endless dirt, dust and heat of downtown in the summertime. Before the North Carolina Mountains or the Gulf Coast, Brookhaven was the tony summer retreat of choice.

Buckhead’s neighborhoods, carved out of the large farms to the north of the city of Atlanta, grew out of this annual exodus. People thought my great-grandmother had lost her mind when she moved her family to Andrews Drive. At the time, it was the early days of Peachtree Heights Park, which began in 1906 when partners Eretus Rivers and Walter Andrews divided the former estate of Wesley Gray Collier into individual lots and laid out the roads.

In 1910, Brookhaven, roughly bordered by Peachtree Road to the south and east, Peachtree Dunwoody Road to the west and Windsor Parkway to the north, saw its first houses, as did Peachtree Hills. In the case of Brookhaven, the area was home to the summer homes of Atlanta’s most prominent residents. A few savvy investors from the Mechanical and Manufacturers Club began acquiring property and named the area Brookhaven Estates. By 1928 there were 19 homes around the former Brookhaven Club, which the Capital City Club leased in 1915.

Peachtree Heights East, which is home to the Duck Pond, was started by Rivers and another business partner, Frank Owens, in 1913. This was an interesting time in Buckhead’s growth. Many neighborhoods grew to a certain point before being interrupted by the Great War.

Brookwood Hills, across from Piedmont Hospital, was developed in 1922 on the former estate of Joseph and Emma Mimms Thompson, which was known as “Brookwood.” Primarily developed by Benjamin Franklin Burdett and his son Arthur Burdett, it is the neighborhood in which my mother, Mary B. Kennedy, was raised. Born in 1940, she used to tell me the Atlanta trolley ended at the top of her street, Brighton Road.

Collier Hills was developed largely on the estate of the Collier family by Herbert W. Nicholes in the 1940s. Garden Hills has a similar but earlier history. Originally developed as Beverly Hills in 1923, it was incorporated into the Garden Hills Co. owned by attorney P.C. McDuffie. Several areas were added to the current neighborhood over time, but the original community was made up of the homes closest to Peachtree roughly from East Wesley Road to Delmont Road.

This list is subjective obviously. For example, neighborhoods like Tuxedo Park grew out of the estates that once lined West Paces Ferry Road — those belonging to former Atlanta Mayor Robert Maddox, “Woodhaven;” James Dickey, whose summer estate was called “Arden;” and William R. Kiser’s magnificent “Knollwood.”

Thornton Kennedy is a fifth-generation Buckhead resident and can be reached at

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