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Community Spotlight: Druid Hills and the Olmstead Linear Park

Monday, November 7, 2016
Emory Light

The planned community of Druid Hills encompasses an affluent neighborhood in Atlanta and a census-designated place (CDP) in the unincorporated portion of DeKalb County. The area is bounded to the north by South Fork Peachtree Creek; the CSX Railroad track to the east; Candler Park and Lake Claire to the south; and the neighborhoods of Morningside/Lenox Park, Virginia-Highland, and Poncey-Highland to the west.

It was designed by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame. He used parks to create transitional public spaces to the private home lots, particularly in the series of parks along Ponce De Leon Avenue now known as Olmsted Linear Park.

Other areas of interest in Druid Hills include the Druid Hills Golf Club, Fernback Museum of Natural History, Emory University, and the main headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Druid Hills Real Estate | DeKalb County GA Homes for Sale

Housing options in Druid Hills are mostly single-family detached residences on tree-lined winding streets. These include historic homes, estate properties, split-level homes, townhouses, and condominiums in a wide variety of architectural styles such as Craftsman, Tudor Revival, Georgian, Italian Renaissance, Mid-century Ranch, Gothic Revival, and Federal.

Grand historic homes are mostly located along:

  • Clifton Road
  • Emory Road
  • Fairview Road
  • Lullwater Road
  • Oakdale Road
  • Oxford Road
  • Springdale Road

Numerous apartment and condo complexes can be found in the area around Emory University which is attracting more millennials to move to Atlanta.

Olmsted Linear Park

Olmsted Linear Park is a series of parks along Ponce De Leon Avenue that takes its name from Frederick Law Olmsted, who first conceptualized it in 1893. The park was subsequently completed in 1905 and is composed of six segments totaling about 45 acres.

Springdale, which contains a green knoll and some oak trees, is the westernmost segment located along the intersection of Ponce de Leon Avenue and Moreland Avenue.

Next in line is Virgilee, which was named for the daughter of Joel Hurt, the developer who initially conceived the plan for Druid Hills. Like Springdale, Virgilee has a wide and grassy open space in the central portion, with groves of trees, plants, and pathways on its periphery.

The third park segment in Olmsted Linear Park is Oak Grove, which was formerly known as Brightwood. Named for its numerous oak trees, Oak Grove follows the design of the first two park segments, but with more greenery.

The fourth segment, Shadyside, is aptly named. It has a heavily wooded section on the southern side of its western end. During the 1930s, some additional elements were added to this park, which included a well, waterfall, pool, and a bridge. Even though these were not in keeping with Olmsted’s design, they have been nonetheless preserved because of their historical significance.

Dellwood, the next segment, was named for the dell found on its eastern side, and continues the pastoral design of the first three segments with a large open space in the center surrounded with scattered groups of trees.

The sixth park segment is Deepdene, which is the eastern end of Olmsted Linear Park. Unlike the first five segments, Deepdene is a wooded tract with a stream winding through it. The topography of Deepdene also varies, ranging from a flat meadow to steep slopes.

On April 11, 1975, Olmsted Linear Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the years, the park has survived poor maintenance, erosion, and installations that were not in line with Olmsted’s original design. The biggest threat to the park came in 1980, in the form of a proposed freeway. Community opposition eventually blocked the freeway’s construction, and a coalition was formed to rehabilitate the park.

Today, the Olmsted Linear Park’s care and ongoing maintenance is overseen by the Olmsted Linear Park Alliance.

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