1171 Church Street, Decatur GA (pic courtesy of Edward)
“The picture is taken around 1952-53. The house in the immediate front is owned by Edward E. and Sally Hara, my parents. The house to the left was the Hutchinson residence. The area is now the Decatur Square Condominiums.”
You may have never thought about it, but if you’ve ever spent any time hanging around outside at the Decatur Recreation Center along Sycamore Street, you may have noticed that there are a few unique and out of place things in and around that site.
First, let’s consider the items most obviously unique to the site.
Have you ever considered the mighty big giant magnolia trees and the rare, “champion” Horse Chestnut tree that stand at the Rec Center entrance? How did they get there? Why wasn’t the site clear cut when the Rec was built back in the 1950s, like so many other sites? Perhaps you’ve never thought twice about them, aside from telling your kids to be careful playing in their branches. But that’s the first clue.
The second clue is much less noticeable. It’s the sheer size and odd shape of the lot.
Q: Clairmont Road gains an “e” heading south toward Decatur, or Clairemont loses an “e” when heading north away from Decatur. What’s the story behind that?
The answer is incomplete at best, but it’s worth a quick look so you can bring it up at Decatur area holiday parties over the next few days!
Thanks to Chris for pointing out this feature! He adds…
“Years ago, a local historian who researched at the DeKalb History Center (McCurdy?) told my students that the road was named after a beautiful girl named Claire. The boys who courted her had to climb stairs to the house, “… To get to Claire, you had to climb the mountain.” I always assumed that the Ridley house was across the street from the YMCA, a house with many steps but the AJC article says the land was at the corner of Clairemont and Garden Lane.”
Unfortunately, Sanborn Maps of Decatur only go a bit north of Williams Street (see above), so those don’t answer the question of the location of the Ridley house. However, the map does introduce another alternative spelling of the street, “Claremont Road”.
Perhaps there are just too many ways to misspell “Claire”.
A few more scraps of my family’s home movies, taken by my grandfather M.F. “Bubber” Adams, Jr., in and around Decatur in the 1940s and 1950s. These include WSB’s first TV transmitter, Decatur First Baptist Church, bits of Winnona Park, and probably the scooter you wish you had now.
After reading a few years back that a 20 story skyscraper was once planned for West Courthouse Square, I have always wondered what on earth that building looked like and how it would have altered the Decatur Square.
Well now, thanks to Chris, who’s passed along this article from the 1966 Decatur Stockholder Report, we can all imagine it! Just picture the 20-story building on the left in place of the DeVry building on the West edge of Decatur Square.