Saturday, March 20, 2010

Field Trip Report - Neel Reid Guided Walking Tour

I have a secret. I am a Neel Reid junkie. I love almost everything he ever drew - and I grew up in a Neel Reid house. I feel a strong connection to these houses. House on the right is the Neel Reid house my great grandfather, Samuel Weyman, built in 1918.

So, when I read about the Phoenix Flies Druid Hills and Neel Reid Guided Walking Tour on the Architecture Tourist blog I knew I had to go.

We had beautiful weather on Friday night. A group of about twenty of us set off on a walking tour in Druid Hills guided by our amazing tour guide Barbara Vogel. Barbara lives in Druid Hills and is extremely knowledgeable about the neighborhood and Neel Reid. We met in the parking lot of St. John's Lutheran church on Ponce De Leon. (That's Barbara in the white shirt.)

The first house we saw was on Oakdale Road. It was built in 1911 when Neel Reid was 26 years old. Reid liked to situate the house on the highest point of the lot, all of the houses on the tour were situated that way.

Next, we walked south, crossing Ponce, and headed towards Paideia School. Their nursery school is housed in the house that Neel Reid designed for Frank Adair. It was built in 1909-10. This house is a treat for the eyes - I took a lot of photos of the architectural details. There is a ballroom on the third floor of the house.

Detail of the dormers

Front door detail

Dining room window with Neel Reid signature lattice work

Stair landing window with a Westerly view to the park

Adair carriage house

We spent a good bit of time at the Adair house and I was getting worried about the light fading (then another photographer on the tour reminded me that I could come back and retake the photos if we lost the light - good point). We again walked to the South, heading towards Fairview, Neel Reid's favorite street. We stopped at 1308 Fairview, home of Bobby Jones' lawyer. Barbara told us that the 2004 Bobby Jones' movie Stroke of Genius was filmed here.

I have this same detail on my screened porch.

A late Spring photo of the house by AJC staffer Elissa Eubanks

Then we turned around and right across the street (1315 Fairview) was this Neel Reid cottage. Totally different from what we had seen so far. Apparently it has a detached 16 car garage in the back.

Front door detail

Next up was 1337 Fairview, a Neel Reid spec house built in 1913. The delightful owner came out to tell us about the house. He believes the house is haunted and has experienced some strange phenonmenon while living there.

1337 Fairview

Front door detail

Ghost Stories

We continued our tour heading east on Fairview to the Walter Rich house built in 1917. Walter Rich was the founder of Rich's department stores (Neel Reid also designed the Rich's store for Rich). This is one of my all time favorite houses in Atlanta. When I was a teenager (ages ago!) I used to ride my bicycle down this street just to see this house. Barbara told us that it had the first swimming pool built in Atlanta.

Two houses down from the Rich house is the Strauss House built in 1917. It is Tudor, Bavarian and a few other things thrown in for good measure - eclectic architecture. Here again Reid designed a ballroom on the third floor and there is an elevator.

At last we came to Neel Reid's own house - 1436 Fairview, built in 1913-14. The house features large, overhanging eaves, lattice work, a palladian window, and a cedar shake roof - all favorites of Reid's. He lived here less than a year before selling the house in 1915 and moving into another house on the street. He then sold that house and moved to Roswell, GA with his mother and sister.

Next door to Reid's house (to the East) are two spec houses he built in 1913-14.

Another photo of the last house by AJC staffer Elissa Eubanks

That was the end of our fabulous tour. We headed home via the park ...

Thank you Barbara Vogel and Phoenix Flies for a great tour. Here's what I wrote in October 2007 about Neel Reid on my blog about building our house - Redo 2589. There's more about Neel Reid Here.

My favorite Neel Reid book is J Neel Reid Architect, by William R. Mitchell, Jr.

Unless noted otherwise, photos taken by Helen Young


  1. Thanks for the report. I'm so glad you took the tour. So many different style. The Adair house is just spectacular. It's the most over the top houses on Ponce but it's not intimidating. Rather than being hidden behind a gate on a huge lot in Buckhead, it's right there on the street for everybody to enjoy.

  2. Your grandfather' house is just so beautiful.
    And, the Rich house fits the description of a house from a book I read to the last detail!

  3. I love all the pictures and seeing the different houses; Reid was versatile and had such a great eye for porportion. And a lovely picture at the end.

  4. Thank you! I titled my painting after your suggestion and that of Beck of Abbey Style!

  5. Hi Helen,
    Had to come over and see who helped me title Tina's painting! Loved the tour and will post you on my sidebar for future look-sees.
    See you later,

  6. Helen,
    The first house on your tour was built for my Great Grandfather, Benjamin Dixon Watkins, his wife Susie and my Grandfather (a child at the time, Ben Jr) Mr Reid also built my Great Grandfathers office building downtown, The Benjamin Dixon Watkins Building, which has since been torn down. Thanks for posting the picture.
    Kelley Watkins

  7. Dear Helen,
    I found this blog and wanted to get in touch with you. My husband and I just purchased the 1337 fairview home. I wanted to talk to you and find out if you remember anything the previous owner said about the house. The word "haunted" makes me very curious, as we are moving in with two very small children!
    Thank you so much!