It is the most important landmark in Buckhead yet few know it is there.
Loudermilk Park, the triangle created by the intersection of Peachtree, Roswell and West Paces Ferry roads, is shrouded by a chain-link fence as crews go about re-imagining the greenspace named for Charlie Loudermilk. It is named for the founder of Aaron’s, and a Buckhead boy through and through, for his many contributions to Buckhead and Atlanta, including the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, The Lovett School and as a founding member of the Buckhead Coalition.
The small park, however, has not had many visitors, rendered essentially inaccessible by the near-constant flow of traffic. At its heart was a statue of a man-deer holding a staff speaking to woodland creatures, which will return to the park when the project is completed.
The reason the park exists at all is thanks to one of the greatest patrons Atlanta has ever known; Robert “Bob” Woodruff, CEO of the Coca-Cola Co. from 1923 to 1954. A newspaper clipping from 1974 showing several buildings that had been on that triangle for decades being demolished alludes to an “anonymous” donor who acquired the property and donated it to the city to be used as a park.
We now know that donor was Bob Woodruff, who did so many things quietly that I imagine many of his contributions have gone unrecognized, which is how he preferred it.
Most people remember Jacob’s Drugstore being on the triangle. Jacob’s dated back to 1917, according to the Buckhead Heritage Society. A photo in the Georgia State University archives from 1954 shows Tuxedo Mart occupying the triangle, ironically with a Coca-Cola billboard on the roof. That billboard caused a one-year delay in the park plans when a lawsuit challenged that the city had to pay for the billboard, according to the 1974 newspaper clipping.
There is a photo from 1910 at the Atlanta History Center which shows a horse-drawn carriage on the unpaved roads which identifies a small shack-like structure on the triangle as George Brumbelow’s blacksmith shop. In the mid-1800s the triangle was just across from Henry Irby’s general store, which represents the keystone of modern Buckhead.
By the end of the summer — perhaps as early as next month — a new park will emerge, one that hopefully will be better used featuring a bubbling water feature, a lawn and a clock tower. Designed by HGOR, the park is a partnership between the Buckhead Community Improvement District, Livable Buckhead and the Southeastern Horticultural Society to ensure the $2.5 million renovation creates a better sense of place than its predecessor.
The concept is to tie the park to the Buckhead Theatre and make the whole area better connected. Charlie Loudermilk is the man who saved the theater as well. It is only fitting that its front door and the greenspace honoring his legacy be joined for the benefit of the community.
Buckhead resident Thornton Kennedy is a sixth-generation Atlantan and the former news editor of this paper. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.