The Jackson-Alsop-Arnold House is a showcase house. The house began as a summer cottage for the Alsop family and was transformed in 1914 into a permanent family home by renowned architect Neel Reid. Tuxedo Park has evolved over more than 50 years from woodland and farms through magnificent summer estates to one of Buckhead's most prestigious neighborhoods.
Although its elegant homes range from Georgian and Tudor to Italianate and Greek Revival, the lush natural environment unifies the district. Homes on large lots often are nestled into woods or sited beyond a rise in a rolling park-like setting. The neighborhood, a magnet for tour buses, is generally bounded by Valley Road on the east, Blackland Road on the north, Northside Drive on the west and West Paces Ferry Road on the south. The route that is now West Paces Ferry has been at the heart of the area's history since Creek Indian times.
281 Blackland Road was built in 1937 by Hugh P. Nunnally. It was designed by architects Charles Frazier and Daniel Bodin. In 1939, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard posed for photos there during the premiere of "Gone With the Wind." In 1977, it was bought by Saudi Prince Faisal. During renovation in October 2000, the house caught fire and partly burned, but will be restored.
In the mid-1880s, as white settlement intensified in the former Creek lands northwest of the new but rapidly developing town of Atlanta, Paces Ferry Road was a main route to the Chattahoochee River. East of Moores Mill Road, it was part of the original Peachtree Road that led to Fort Peachtree on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, once the site of the Creek Indian town of Standing Peachtree.
The name Paces Ferry derives from a flat-boat ferry service that Hardy Pace, a settler who came to the area from North Carolina, established in the early 1800s near where Peachtree Creek empties into the Chattahoochee. Pace, born in 1785, also ran a post office near what is now Vinings. He died in 1864 and is buried in the Vinings Cemetery. During the Civil War, Federal troops closing in on Atlanta used the Paces Ferry crossing and camped in fields along Paces Ferry Road. Willis Jones House, 520 West Paces Ferry Road, designed by Neel Reid in 1922 and moved from Peachtree Road, was once the headquarters of the Atlanta Historical Society.
The area remained rural until wealthy Atlantans began to build summer homes along Paces Ferry Road in 1904. The wooded, rolling hills made an ideal retreat from the bustling city six miles to the south. The land on which many of these estates were built once was owned by James H. Smith. Smith, who died in 1872, is buried in what is now known as Harmony Grove Cemetery, which still exists at the southwest corner of West Paces Ferry and Chatham roads.
F.M. Powers, the next major landowner, sold a 400-acre farm in 1903 to James L. Dickey Sr., who in 1904 sold a tract for a summer home to Robert F. Maddox, a banker, civic leader and soon-to-be Atlanta mayor. Maddox's rambling Tudor-style mansion, "Woodhaven," was a beacon for other civic and business leaders. Dickey's son, James L. Dickey Jr., built "Arden." "Knollwood," built by William H. Kiser, "Newcastle," built by Judge William Bailey Lamar on the site of Hardy Pace's 1820s home, and the estates of Henry S. Jackson, Edward H. Alsop, attorney Morris Brandon and James W. Morrow soon followed, designed by a who's who of famed Atlanta architects, including Philip Shutze and Neel Reid. All of these mansions except Brandon's and Morrow's still stand.
Charles H. Black Sr.'s Tuxedo Park and Valley Road companies and the Ferry Road Development Company continued the development as the increasing popularity of the automobile began changing the character of the area from country estates to a year-round residential suburb. In 1911, Black bought 300 acres off West Paces Ferry Road for what would become Tuxedo Park for $75,000. Black's own home was "Azalea House," a 1938 Tudor-style home at 225 Valley Road.
Sales and construction in Tuxedo Park were interrupted by the economic depression of the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s. During the 1950s, "Knollwood," the Kiser estate, was subdivided, and the road running north from West Paces Ferry on the east side of the Kiser property took on that name. "Knollwood" still stands, but its grounds have been diminished and no longer extend to West Paces Ferry.
In 1963, Robert Maddox sold "Woodhaven" and about 20 acres to the state of Georgia. The state saved the carriage house and terraced gardens, but demolished the house and built the present Governor's Mansion, which is open to the public. Woodhaven Road, which runs through land Maddox once owned, preserves the estate's name. The Georgia Governor's Mansion, where 'Woodhaven' once stood is located at 391 West Paces Ferry Road.
'Villa Juanita,' 509 West Paces Ferry Road, designed by Pringle & Smith in 1923, is said to be 'haunted' by the scent of Chantilly, the favored perfume of a former owner. Villa Juanita, long on the market, reportedly has been sold (July 2000) and some reports say the buyer was a developer who plans mini-mansions on the site. Stay tuned.
Although subdividing of large estates continues, Tuxedo Park remains an outstanding neighborhood of grand homes and picturesque landscaping. Some information provided by http://www.buckhead.org/tuxedopark