By Anne Wallace
About 1890 Joel Hurt purchased 1,492 acres to create “the ideal residential suburb” of parks, woods, and winding roads. Mr. Hurt summoned Frederick Law Olmsted, creator of Central Park in New York City, to Atlanta to design the picturesque Druid Hills. Long-lasting covenants were adopted by Asa Candler and his partners to maintain the natural beauty and residential character of Olmsted’s plans as they began the development of the suburb in 1905.
Druid Hills Civic Association was founded in 1938 because of concerns about the public school, but the organization quickly became involved in planning and zoning, speeding, loitering, and the pinball machines in Emory Village. On the agenda during WWII was a problem with rats in the victory gardens and plans for a war housing project on N. Decatur Rd. From this point on, DHCA would fight to defend the covenants and design of Olmsted and to preserve the historic beauty of Druid Hills.
Druid Hills is composed of almost 4,000 addresses and over 15,000 residents. There are three local governmental jurisdictions: City of Atlanta, City of Decatur, and Unincorporated DeKalb County.
DHCA operates with a Board of almost 50 volunteers. Residents share their time and professional expertise by serving on the Board in their chosen capacity.
DHCA is known for fierce advocacy. Fighting to protect the neighborhood from everything from rats to roads, continuous preservation efforts to save Callanwolde, Fernbank Forest, and Fernbank Science Center, lobbying for national historic designations & recognitions as well as local Historic Preservation Acts that provide a means to stop unsolicited development…these are just some of the many significant accomplishments of the civic association.
DHCA negotiates for the neighborhood. Whether it be MARTA, GDOT, Emory University, or a developer with grandiose designs, DHCA has a powerful voice that commands respect.
DHCA brings you opportunities. The annual “NeighborWoods” partnership with TreesAtlanta entices residents to plant trees replacing the old ones that are lost each year and thereby helping to maintain our significant tree canopy. Neighbors worked with National Wildlife Federation to certify Druid Hills as a Wildlife Community evidencing our commitment to preserve the nature of our surroundings for the good of all who live here.
DHCA celebrates with you. The Annual Druid Hills Home and Garden Tour showcases the lifestyle of our neighborhood. In 2018 we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Tour! In 2016 we celebrated with Olmsted Linear Park Assn. the 25th Anniversary of the successful “Stop the Road” campaign that saved our beautiful linear parks. The Druid Hills 4th of July Parade has continued for 40 years with families who have grown up here welcoming new residents to our traditions and celebrating our independence.
While Preservation is of utmost importance, it does not mean we oppose Progress. It does mean that DHCA must insist that progress be mindful of our values and the Historic District guidelines. DHCA is the custodian of the Druid Hills community as it evolves through the decades and as we prepare for future generations. Please join us in active participation by becoming a member today!