Monday, July 24, 2017

Philip McDuffie House (1922) Hentz, Reid & Adler, a "Neel Reid" Part 1 of ?

If Neel Reid himself walked though the front door of 7 Cherokee today, he'd likely say, "You haven't changed this foyer in 90 years! Let's get to work." That's what I think anyway.

The new owners are renovating and adding on. They are removing some of the fancy woodwork in the public rooms. "Fancy?" I really mean HEROIC. Are they ruining a "Neel Reid?" Someone said Yong Pak and Pak Heydt & Associates will be working on it. Take comfort.

It's taken me two weeks to publish a few pictures with captions. How to start when it's a legend? I don't know the names of styles or design details. How much of this did Neel Reid personally design? Did he set foot inside once it was done or decorated? How much has changed in the last 90 years?

My pictures and videos are so lame in telling you about the house but I'll show you a few in the blog. Here are links to my 7 Cherokee pictures in Flickr, my four 7 Cherokee videos in YouTube and a nice biography of Philip McDuffie from Buckhead Heritage. Phillip McDuffie developed Garden Hills among other things.

I don't get invited to these places so I follow estate sales. Once in a while I get lucky, this one thanks to VT Estate Sales.

This is as close can you get without an invitation. 8,562 square feet on 4 acres. My impression is the "whole" rather than the parts, a single composition.

Peachtree Heights West, has been of Atlanta's prestigious neighborhoods for 90 years. There's a nest of Neel Reid's (and more) surrounding the intersection of Andrews and Cherokee.

There's the gate. Looks like money wasn't the issue.

I got stuck at the gate wondering if I could process the house.

Gate details. Original? Neel Reid? James Means? There are many more pineapples and lanterns and lamps ahead.


The triple double-windows to the left are the front of the narrow end of the living-room / library. Not a weed in the lawns, the gardens, or the driveway.

Fancy balustraded wall and steps, fancy for the cars.

Even the tire stops are fancy.

Here you go. My long eye says: symmetrical, balanced, harmonious. My close eye wonders: how many design decisions, how many measurements to make harmony? How many budget decisions, value engineering? Do people live here, have consulate parties and debutante receptions? All and more I think.

I felt more important than intimidated. Did the medallions, niches and urns have to be just so?

I've got to stop here for now. Let me tease you with one picture from the inside.

This would be the dining room.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Keeping Morrow Weird: Branch Library by Scogin, Elam, and Bray

It was my birthday and I am the Architecture Tourist after all. I was in Stockbridge, Google said it was only eight minutes to the Carol Cobb Turner Branch Library in Morrow by Scogin, Elam, and Bray.

First: The bottom lines.
  1. I salute places that are open to the public.
  2. You've just got to see this place. Pictures don't convey how strange-wonderful it is. 
  3. It's totally nutty on the outside. But when you walk in... 
  4. I like places that can accommodate a mess. And this place...
  5. Scogin, Elam, and Bray designed two more libraries in Clayton County.
  6. I'm thinking a Saturday morning road trip to see all three. Interested? 
  7. There's a Star Trek reference below.

So I went and I've been giggling ever since.

"This is the weirdest building I've ever seen." Prison worker emptying the trash 16 May 2017

"Do you ever get disoriented in here?" Terry 16 May 2017
"Yes!" Morrow Branch Library desk clerk 16 May 2017

"... the Talosians, who then allowed Captain Pike to see that her youthful beauty was an illusion. (Vina) explained she had nearly died in the crash and that the Talosians, who had never seen Humans, had had no guide in repairing her smashed body." Star Trek "The Menagerie, Part II" 24 November 1966

"Weird is what what we do." paraphrasing Merrill Elam (left) speaking about the new Austin Courthouse at Record on the Road - Atlanta 29 March 2017

“Morrow library could have been built for less.” 30 January 1992 The Clayton Sun

Then there's the alien spaceship pointing to the mother-ship.

20170516_103859 2017-05-16 Morrow Branch Library Carol Cobb Turner Branch Scogin n Elam n Bray 6225 Maddox Road Clayton County Georgia 1991 General Contractor Lusk and Associates
But also a human touch.

Road trip?

Let's visit one Saturday.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The thing about Neel Reid is...I'm not sure.

The "thing about Neel Reid" for me is that his houses make me feel great, welcome, comfortable, human.

Though he died at age 40 in 1926 J. Neel Reid remains Atlanta's most esteemed architect. It's a bit unfair as design is collaborative, yet they don't call them Hentz, Reid & Adler's houses, they call them Neel Reid's.

As architect Greg Walker elegantly put it to me just last week: "Neel Reid was a stud."

I follow estate sales so I can tour Neel Reid designed houses..I have to see them.

The last one I saw was 2922 Andrews. I'll show you a few pictures of it.

Though he designed in several "classical" styles most are like this. My mom and dad would have called the style "Colonial" or "Early American." My youthful impression is they'd look fine in Williamsburg or Charleston. Folks have liked this style for a few centuries, still do, they still build them this way.

Stuart Witham House (1926) the year of Neel Reid's death. 7,370 square feet on 1.9 acres, 6 BR 5 1/2 BA in Peachtree Heights West.

Let's see:

20170408_103551 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian cobble driveway apron
Apron, lots of Neel Reid driveway have rough brick aprons.

20170408_103606 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian gate post iron work
Gate post and gate. Lot's of detail though it seems simple.

20170408_103628 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian
These lots were laid out by Carerre and Hastings to yield perfectly sited homes. The driveway curves in front of the house then to the porte-cochère on the right.

This is big, it's way up there but speaking to me: "Terry, come on up."

20170408_104410 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian ballustrade
There's this chunky balustrade surrounding the front porch. When you are on the porch you fell safe in its embrace. That's the way I feel anyway. How about those nice double windows with transoms and arches and arched shutters. They are right on the money. More on these in a second.

20170408_103805 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian swans neck broken pediment
It's human sized. No steps. From here it's not a mansion on a hill. It says come on in. This looks easy but everything is sized, proportioned, and detailed so you don't really notice.

20170408_103824 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian
Heroic swans neck pediment and door millwork. HEROIC and looks great from close or a distance. This is where guests arrive and feel really important.

20170408_103829 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian
Those great looking windows onto the porch are actually big. They are walkout (and in) French doors with steps to the porch, perfect for party circulation. From the street they just look like the correctly sized windows.

20170408_104414 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian porte cochere
The driveway curves around the front to the porte-cochère. This is the informal side of the house, the family entrance, the everyday side, the kitchen side where you unload the groceries.

This is the gorgeous family entrance. The bay window is in the family dining room. The kitchen to the right. Beyond the door is the family stair up the the private rooms. Looks like a fine townhouse from here. 8 over 8 over 8 triple hung windows look just right, flared metal roof, 4 over 4's upstairs with segmented arches and proper shutters. Right on the money, not cheap to design or build but oh so beautiful and harmonious.

Heading in.

20170408_104813 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian
Expecting to enter a colossal space we actually enter a tiny and cozy vestibule with coat closets on either side. There's a stop up into the foyer, also the formal stair hall. From here you circulate to the formal rooms ahead and to the left, the family rooms and stair toward the right.

20170408_104954 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian
That's it, the foyer. Ahead to the formal living room, dining room to the right, behind are the powder room and informal spaces.

20170408_104922 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian staior window with shoulders and knees
The formal stair curves over the vestibule.

20170408_110558 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian stair foyer window
Lit by the widow with "knees" that buttress the bottom.

20170408_105011 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian
Heroic millwork in the formal rooms. Every detail here designed to be just right for the space considering the owner budget.

20170408_105103 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian door pediment broken pediment
In the formal living room, pedimented doors, the right leading the the foyer, the left to the dining room. My camera couldn't take it in.

20170408_105045 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian bookcase
It wasn't actually dark. That "window" is a French door to the back patio.

20170408_105317 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian porch door
The living room opened to the sun room. This door goes to the living room.

20170408_105301 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian herringbone marble floor sun room
Herringbone marble sunroom floors are nice a break from your neighbor's black and white marble tiles.

20170408_105705 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian dining room fireplace
The formal dining room is circulation central so balanced between doors and windows it didn't feel the least bit stuffy. Deep, deep arched doorways frame the fireplace.

20170408_110333 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian breakfast room
Here's the family dining room, a big banquette curved under the bay window. You have room for a bit extended family in there or feel cozy with you and a friend. Kitchen to the left, family entrance and family stair to the right.

20170408_110344 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian breakfast room panel ceiling
The family dining room ceiling is paneled and bead-boarded just right I think.

The kitchen was just fine but modernized and functional. An informal, family space.

20170408_110732 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian axis pool pool house
The axis from the dining room.

20170408_110912 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian rear axis from pool house
The house is a bit more imposing from the back but check out that curved pediment on the wing.

20170408_110729 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian shutteers internal gutters collector box
The detailing on the back was all there. I'm in the "horseshoe" on the back patio. Sunroom windows below bedroom above casement windows open all the way but are innies rather than outies thus safer to wash.

20170408_111046 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian quoines
The sunroom opened to the side garden.

20170408_111007 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian south leftside garden
Took a lot of design and craftsmanship to make the little garden subtle.

20170408_111041 2017-04-08 Neel Reid 2922 West Andrews classic Georgian scallop shell left side garden on sunroom side
I'm a scallop shell enthusiast how about you?

I think this is my 6th Neel Reid, all seen at estate sales.

If you show me yours, I'd be happy to show you mine when I get one.

Thanks so much.

"For several generations Neel Reid was the best-known residential architect in Atlanta. His houses enjoyed a pedigree, level of prestige, and quality that made them the most sought after in the city. Owning a Neel Reid house, with its refinement of style, was thought to be a mark of taste and social acceptability. That Reid's firm, Hentz and Reid, should provide a training ground for Philip Trammell Shutze, the leading architect of what architectural historian and author William R. Mitchell Jr. has called the Georgia School of Classicism, is evidence that it was one of the most important Atlanta firms of the 1910s."
Craig, Robert M. "Neel Reid (1885-1926)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 11 December 2014. Web. 12 April 2017. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Growing Atlanta's Preservation Community

We are all so busy. So how can we engage Atlanta’s enthusiasts, activists, its energy, and generous spirit? Please join me Sunday, March 26, 4:30pm at the Atlanta Preservation Center and let's talk about it. How should we leverage and amplify our grass roots: Atlanta's walkers, runners, shoppers, stroller pushers, bikers, photographers, artists, urban explorers, urbanists, our historians, librarians, teachers. How can we bring them in? How can they bring us in? We'd better do both. It's time for innovation in what is often seen as a backwards facing profession and hobby.

Atlanta has everything we need to be a leader. And that would be fun don't you think?

Terry's Tiny Tips.

1. Help folks be part of the story. Leverage local knowledge and enthusiasm. We are each experts on where we live.

2. Represent in your own communities.

 3. Introduce yourself.

4. Recognize and praise regularly.

5. Make it easy to find out: Issues, current events, leading voices, happenings.

6. Explain the terms that aren't as strong as they sound.

7. Support and fund preservation rocket science.

8. Make preservation current events.

9. Meet-up in our most beautiful spaces.

10. Reach out in every direction, go to their meetings.

11. Have great arguments.


"We build in order to dwell among neighbors and to dwell is to live among neighbors who have as great an interest in how we build as we do. A town is a home where strangers settle side by side and enjoy a shared sense of belonging. Its streets are public spaces, the facades of its buildings stand in a personal relation to all that pass them by."
- Roger Scruton

"As surprising as it sounds, Atlanta remains chock-full of historic sites, inspiring spaces and people who care about them. This year, the Atlanta Preservation Center celebrates them March 4–26 with 270+ free tours of 99 places all over Atlanta.

"And we really need to celebrate. Preservation can be a heartbreaking profession, a depressing hobby. Even the “easy ones” are hard."

 - Preview: Terry Kearns’ guide to the 2017 Phoenix Flies festivities Mar 9, 2017

Atlanta Preservation Center Resource links 
Twitter #pheonixflies 
Instagram #phoenixflies
Instagram #preserveatl 

Thanks to everyone who joined us.

The outline and reminder sheet.

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