A new coffee-table book honors the houses of Historic Brookhaven — and immortalizes them before more are lost to redevelopment.
“The Storied Houses of Historic Brookhaven” features more than 90 houses in the historic neighborhood that straddles Brookhaven and Buckhead, centered on the Capital City Club golf course. The limited-edition book is the product of several years of work by a committee of the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood Association.
“There are definitely houses that are gone or were significantly remodeled — so remodeled that they’re no longer recognizable as historical — in those three or four years,” said Richard Diedrich, a Historic Brookhaven resident and author of coffee-table books about golf courses, who penned the book.
The book project is focused on a smaller area within Historic Brookhaven — the official Historic District that has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1986. It’s roughly bounded by East Brookhaven Drive and Peachtree, Vermont and Winall Down roads.
That core neighborhood dates back to a 1910 plan for the Capital City Club — then called the Brookhaven Country Club — in an area of summer cottages. A community called Brookhaven Estates was plotted around the club’s borders, soon followed by two other subdivisions. Houses dating from 1910 to 1942 are now part of the Historic District.
The National Register designation offers recognition and eligibility for preservation-related grants and tax credits, but does not protect buildings from demolition. About 150 historic homes remain in Historic Brookhaven, but at least 50 others have been demolished or heavily altered since the Historic District designation, Diedrich and the neighborhood association estimate.
Raising awareness of the houses’ historic value was a main inspiration for the book when resident Mike Elliot approached Diedrich several years ago about writing it.
Writing, photographing and producing the book was a challenge taking years of devoted effort by the committee. Members have previously said they had to raise over $25,000 in business sponsorships and book subscriptions from homeowners to make the project happen.
“At the time, we were selling a vision,” said Diedrich, declining to reveal the book project’s final cost.
The result is a 146-page, oversized book packed with profiles of houses, describing the history and architecture of many, along with some personal memories. Photos of the houses are in many cases accompanied by watercolors painted by Diedrich that highlight the front doors or entryways – among the unique parts of the houses, he writes.
Among the particularly notable houses is 3970 East Brookhaven Drive, whose architect was Phillip Trammell Shutze, the designer of the Atlanta History Center’s famous Swan House and many other prominent Atlanta buildings.
The Capital City Club gets its own section, and the book includes context about the area’s history and diverse architecture, as well as some notes on today’s new housing in the neighborhood.
Diedrich said other historic neighborhoods in metro Atlanta could consider creating such a book. He noted Druid Hills as a very similar community, with its golf club, historic houses and varied architecture.
“They all have the problem of historic houses being razed and being replaced,” Diedrich said of metro Atlanta’s historic neighborhoods. “It’s really a more pervasive problem than [only in] Brookhaven.”
“The Storied Houses of Historic Brookhaven” was delivered to subscribers in June. Anyone can buy a copy, while supplies last, for $85 via brookhavenlibretto.com and soon at the UPS Store at 4062 Peachtree Road in Brookhaven. Diedrich said he will attend three book-signings in September, including at the Decatur Book Festival.