Subdividing history

Last week I testified at a Georgia House of Representatives judiciary subcommittee hearing on a bill that would amend the state’s historic preservation law. HB 802, described as an act “to allow for subdivision of historic property,” was introduced by Rep. Doug McKillip (R-115th Dist.) of Athens. If enacted, the amendment would allow property owners in locally-designated historic districts to bypass historic preservation commissions with proposals to subdivide their properties.

The bill has received little media attention in Georgia. One exception is an Athens Banner-Herald article published in January.

I was asked by DeKalb County preservationists to testify in opposition to the bill. I joined Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation CEO Mark McDonald and current and former Druid Hills Civic Association presidents Robert Benfield and Bruce McGregor. Continue reading

Historic Parkwood: An Early DeKalb County Ranch House

Parkwood was one of the last subdivisions developed in Historic Druid Hills. The first post in this series explored how Parkwood’s landscape developed between c. 1920 and 1960. The research presented in that introduction shows that there were three periods of historic development inside Parkwood: 1927-1939; 1940-1947; and 1948-1952.

Houses built in the earliest phase were executed in the period revival and bungalow styles popular at the time; homes built in the middle phase bridged the revival styles and included early ranch houses; and, the homes built in 1948 and afterwards were almost exclusively ranch houses. This post explores the history of one of the earliest ranch houses constructed in Parkwood during the middle phase, in 1946. Continue reading

DeKalb County’s ranch houses: ubiquitous and uber sexy?

When we moved from the D.C. suburbs to the Atlanta suburbs in February, we exchanged a common 1930s house for a common 1950s house. We went from a Cape Cod built in 1936 to a ranch house built in the mid-1950s.

After we moved in we realized that we were living inside the Druid Hills Historic District and that the ranch houses lining our street were considered contributing elements to the district. Last year, the Georgia’s state historic preservation office released a well-researched and highly accessible ranch house context study. I downloaded the report and browsed through it before moving on to the business of moving. When I revisited the report a few weeks ago I realized that several of the homes discussed in there report were located just a few hundred feet from our new Georgia home.

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