An interactive map and database of more than 650 Buckhead historic sites is set to be launched by the Buckhead Heritage Society.
The “Historic Resources Survey” has been in the works for several years and is intended to be updated continuously.
“We don’t think this project will ever be finished,” said Heritage Society secretary John Beach during an Aug. 9 presentation to the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods about the effort.
The survey’s interactive map will launch online for Heritage Society members this month, Beach said. It is unclear when or if it will be available to the general public.
The survey so far has 655 entries, ranging from historical markers to “famous houses,” Beach said. On the map, each entry is color-coded by a “theme.” Some themes include architecture, community planning and development, military, “ethnic heritage: black,” social history, religion, transportation, commerce, industry and landscape architecture.
Each icon on the map can be clicked to show some details. As one example, Beach showed the entry for Peninsula House, a historic mansion at 281 Blackland Road. The survey entry shows it was built in 1937, designed by the architecture firm Frazier and Bodin, and hosted movie stars Clark Gable and Carole Lombard in 1939 when they attended the Atlanta world premiere of “Gone with the Wind.”
With such details, Beach said, the survey contains 10,000 individual “pieces of information” about the various sites.
Beach said that tours of sites related to military history are among the many possible uses of the database.
The survey dovetails with plans for more comprehensive historic lists, proactive preservation work and community outreach, as described by new Heritage Society Executive Director Richard Waterhouse, who took over the position late last year.
Among the resources that Waterhouse previously said he wants to complete is a list of all the buildings designed by Philip Trammell Shutze, who was involved with the Atlanta History Center’s Swan House and other prominent local buildings. Several Shutze mansions have been significantly renovated or demolished in recent years, and the lack of a comprehensive list has been a problem for preservation advocacy.
Beach said because the Heritage Society is a small organization — it operates out of a Buckhead Forest office — “we’re scared to death” of the many small corrections and additions it will likely be asked to make to the survey’s database.
On the other hand, Beach said, the group is eager to connect with local neighborhood associations to share information and resources. He said the Heritage Society would like to have a “community liaison” in each Buckhead sub-neighborhood to help with survey entries, connect on historic preservation advocacy efforts, and take localized questions from other residents or the media.
That was one reason Beach made the survey presentation to BCN, whose chairman, Tom Tidwell, was open to helping.
“Ideally, that’s kind of the purpose of this group, is having a single clearinghouse for information,” Tidwell said, though no immediate plans for developing such community liaisons was discussed.
For more information about the Heritage Society, see buckheadheritage.com.