Maggie Wise, with her husband, Brett, and their two dogs Suzie and Kip relax during a stroll through Murphey Candler Park.
Maggie Wise, with her husband, Brett, and their two dogs Suzie and Kip relax during a stroll through Murphey Candler Park.

Recreation. Education. Location.

Ask a resident of the Murphey Candler Park neighborhood why they’re living there and their answers are bound to fall into one of those categories. Or perhaps even all three.

The neighborhood and the park it surrounds, between Chamblee Dunwoody and Ashford Dunwoody roads, are just inside I-285 in Brookhaven.

It was the location that initially appealed to Maggie Wise and her husband, but once they discovered the neighborhood, she said the look and feel of it—the older homes and the abundance of mature trees—helped them decide to relocate there. The park and nearby Murphey Candler Lake also were a positive influence.

“We [previously] lived in Chamblee, just a couple of miles away, and we loved the accessibility of [this] area—it’s so close to 285 and 400—but we actually drove around all of what’s now Brookhaven. The accessibility of 285 and 400 was so important to us,” Wise said. “I work in Buckhead, he works up in Alpharetta, so it’s a really good spot for both of us.

“I definitely feel like this neighborhood is a suburban neighborhood, but then it’s inside the Perimeter, which is just the coolest thing. I could never imagine living [outside the Perimeter] and have to deal with a big commute every day just for a suburban feel of a neighborhood. [And] we kind of got lucky to get in right before it became Brookhaven.”

This summer will mark the third year Wise and her husband have resided in the neighborhood, and she’s not alone in thinking the city’s incorporation has helped the neighborhood to be attractive to potential homeowners.

“As part of the city of Brookhaven, I think for a lot of people it feels like a more contained community than to be in unincorporated DeKalb County. I think if nothing else, cityhood has helped our residential market in this area,” said Lisa Thule, who is in her fifth year as president of the Murphey Candler Neighborhood Association.

About 366 homes are within the neighborhood, Thule said, which itself is approaching nearly 50 years of age. Thule and her family have resided within in it for nearly half that time frame—22 years.

“My husband and I moved here with two children, and we had three more in those years. We feel kind of entrenched,” she said. “We were really attracted to the neighborhood because of the location, and because it’s close to the schools we were already in.

“When I moved to Atlanta, I always lived in Brookhaven. I lived in Peachtree Garden Apartments, that’s where Town Brookhaven is now. So I’ve always lived in this area,” she added. “We had a community in our church, in our schools and this neighborhood.”

Another longtime resident, Shane Day Boyer, grew up in the neighborhood. His mother still lives in the house he grew up in—across the street from the park—which she bought in 1978. Boyer and his wife bought their own home in the neighborhood and renovated it in 2005.

“There are not many neighborhoods around Atlanta that have a 100-plus-acre park at its core. The ability to walk down to the park and everything else the park has to offer is the perfect reason for us to stay,” Boyer said. “In 2005, we bought a four-bedroom home for just my wife, myself and our dog.

“Ten years later, we now have three kids, and [having the nearby] park is perfect,” he said, adding that the lake is also beneficial when they take their basset hound Scooter out for a walk on the 1.5-mile trail around it.

Thule said the outdoor attractions bring out a lot of her neighbors, which has helped her get to know a lot of them.

“As time has gone by, we are really attached to our community. I feel like I know a lot of people here, there are a lot of people that are outside, the park attracts a lot of dog walkers and a lot of joggers,” Thule said. “If you have a family, the neighborhood attracts families.

“The pool brings families together, the youth sports at Murphey Candler Park brings families together,” she added. “We’ve been able to meet a lot of people who live in our little neighborhood because of the many things that are so convenient to it. When we want to see our neighbors, we just go outside and walk down to the park, and we’re bound to see a dozen people that we know and like.”

In addition to the park and lake, Boyer says another major draw for the neighborhood is Brookhaven’s top-ranked school, Montgomery Elementary. Two of Boyer’s children go there. “It has been a wonderful experience for them,” he said.

The neighborhood is also served by Chamblee Middle School and Chamblee Charter High School.

“The schools are really attractive to young families who are thinking about their kids’ high school when they’re just starting first grade,” Thule said. “We have very good schools in this area, and if you are on the private school track, you’re not very far from many of those as well.

“We don’t have a lot of single people here. We do have a good number of empty nesters here, but this is a place where people come to raise a family,” she added.

Neighborhood residents don’t have to go far to find events to enjoy during the year. The Murphey Candler Park Conservancy, of which Boyer serves as president, created the Duck Duck Goose 5K in the park last year, an event that included live music and prizes. Movie nights, he added, have been held at the Murphey Candler Park Pool and the nearby ball fields.

At Halloween, it’s not uncommon to find a party being held by residents in one of the neighborhood circles.

Those parties, Thule said, are just one of the things that make the area feel welcoming.

“I wouldn’t move because it’d take me another 20 years to rebuild the community that I feel very comfortable in,” she said.

For Wise, it’s the hospitality of her neighbors that makes the area truly feel like a neighborhood.

“I think this is the South in general, but I appreciate this of our neighborhood: People are walking by or driving by in their car and they wave hello, you can stop and talk to someone on your walk. That’s friendliness.”

–Jon Gargis