By W. Wright Mitchell
In approximately 1838, someone killed a large buck and placed the head by Henry Irby’s Tavern, which was near the intersection of present-day Peachtree, West Paces Ferry and Roswell roads. Formerly called Irbyville, the area then became known as Buckhead, and the rest is history.
Most Buckhead residents know the story of Buckhead’s origins. And many people are aware of the integral role Buckhead played in the Civil War. But many people do not know that Buckhead was once the location of a thriving Indian village on the Chattahoochee River that served as the central gathering spot for settlers long before Atlanta existed. Or that gold was discovered in Nancy Creek in 1866, which touched off a bona fide gold rush. Or that the Chastain Park golf course was the site of a large prison camp.
Buckhead is also home to many significant historic structures and landscapes, such as Sardis Methodist Church, Harmony Grove Cemetery, the Roxy Theatre, the Cotton Exchange Building, Garden Hills Cinema, Collier’s Mill, and numerous homes designed by some of the foremost architects of their time, including Neel Reid, Philip Shutze and Lewis “Buck” Crook.
In 2006, a group of Buckhead residents formed Buckhead Heritage, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to preserve, protect and promote Buckhead’s significant historic resources. Since its inception, Buckhead Heritage has completed an extensive restoration of Harmony Grove Cemetery at the corner of West Paces Ferry and Chatham roads. Buckhead Heritage also hired an executive director experienced in historic preservation, Christine McCauley, and recently launched its membership program.
A committee headed by Buckhead Heritage board member and secretary Chad Wright will begin interviewing Buckhead residents soon to compile an oral history of the area. Buckhead Heritage also will offer educational programs on topics ranging from Civil War history to architectural design to its members.
Buckhead Heritage owes its success to its founding members, its other members and especially its active board of directors: Tamara Bazzle, vice president; Bob Helget, treasurer; Chad Wright, secretary; and Ivan Allen IV, Susan Barnard, Claudia Barnes, Boyd Coons, Susanne Logan, John Snodgrass and Sam Massell.
Each month the Buckhead Reporter will feature a column written by Buckhead Heritage. Watch for future columns about Buckhead’s history.
For additional details about Buckhead Heritage, including membership information, visit www.buckheadheritage.com, send e-mail to email@example.com, or call 404-467-9447.
W. Wright Mitchell is the president and chairman of the board of directors of Buckhead Heritage and a labor and employment lawyer at the firm of Constangy, Brooks and Smith.