One of Atlantas first streetcar subdivisions, Kirkwood was a prestigious neighborhood at the turn of the century. Home to many notables such as Atlanta mayors, and Georgia Governor and Civil War General John B. Gordon, Kirkwood is known for its tree-lined streets, tight knit neighborhood, and lovely architecture.
Kirkwood traces its beginnings to residential development begun as early as the 1870s. While no one would consider Kirkwood a suburb of Atlanta today, an early tour book described it as an "area of beautiful suburban villas." Kirkwood was an early streetcar suburb to Atlanta. By 1910 streetcars provided express service to and from Atlanta three times daily, and street cars continued service along some streets including Kirkwood Road until the early 1950s.
Kirkwood was incorporated as an independent municipality in 1899. Governed beginning in 1899 by its own city council and mayor, the town boasted its own water system, school systems and fire department. The former Kirkwood School is a handsome building from this period, located on Kirkwood Road just north of Bessie Branham Park. Individually nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, the primary building on the propertys south side was originally designed by John Francis Downing, the son of the noted Atlanta architect W. T. Downing. Both buildings now comprise the Kirkwood Lofts apartments as a result of a $1 million renovation in 1997.
In 1922, Kirkwood residents voted for annexation into the city of Atlanta.
Beginning in the late 1950s and continuing into the 1960s, Kirkwood experienced a transition into decline. Up until 1965 as the racial composition of the community changed, black citizens made up an increasingly large percentage of the communitys populations, but were denied the opportunity to attend the white, segregated Kirkwood School. As a result of community pressure, the Atlanta School Board in 1965. abruptly integrated Kirkwood School, having declared a phased-in, grade-by-grade attempt at integration a failure.
Beginning in the 1980s, the neighborhood began to witness another influx of new residents interested in renovating the neighborhoods stock of historic housing. Still underway, this influx of the middle-class brings with it a whole host of new issues, among them issues related to gentrification, and the clash of people of different social, racial and economic histories living together in one community.
While rich in history, Kirkwoods rise, its fall into decline, and its recent arrival again as a neighborhood attractive to middle and upper-middle income homeowners illustrate how economic, racial and social forces have shaped this historic inner-city community and many others like it.
Kirkwood's largest homes were built during the community's early years of development in the Queen Anne, East Lake, Arts and Crafts and Victorian Folk styles, primarily along Howard St. between Howard and College Avenue and along Kirkwood Road just north of Hosea Williams Drive. Additional fine larger homes may be found in the Sutherland Terrace subdivision built on the site of the General John B. Gordon estate along Gordon Avenue, Oxford Avenue, and Sutherland Terrace just north of DeKalb Avenue. Although originally part of the Kirkwood, the 1970-era MARTA east rail line severed Sutherland Terrace permanently from the larger Kirkwood community to the south and as a result, Sutherland Terrace is usually now associated more with the Lake Claire neighborhood than with Kirkwood.
As architectural styles changed and evolved following the Kirkwood community's first few decades of growth, we begin to see the craftsman-style two-story American Foursquare homes and the crafts bungalows that today are perhaps the most recognizable features of an Atlanta streetcar suburb community. From the 1920's through the close of the 1930's, Kirkwood would continue to experience great popularity as a suburb convenient to both Atlanta and Decatur. The neighborhood continued to grow for the thirty years following this period, experiencing another surge in development following the second world war with the development of smaller tract houses typical of that period.
The Kirkwood neighborhood has been experiencing a dramatic resurgence in the past 5 years. Many residents are part of the strong Kirkwood Neighbors Association, which holds monthly meetings in a neighborhood church. Demand for homes in the area has skyrocketed as young professionals return to the intown neighborhoods to reclaim the strong sense of community they lost in the suburbs. They can select from the renovated historic architecture of the 1920's or new construction that is designed in the craftsman bungalow or two-story styles that fit in with existing homes in this historic neighborhood. The Craftsman Bungalow was the predominant style of architecture in the intown neighborhoods throughout the 1920s and 30s. These new homes have old-fashioned charm in a historic, intown neighborhood, but benefits from modern design, construction, and amenities.
Currently a new 50 home Craftsaman Bungalow subdivision is under construction in Kirkwood called Hawthorn Park. The homes of Hawthorn Park have been designed to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood. Fifty homes will be built in 8 different styles based on Craftsman architecture from the 1920s - the predominant style of Atlanta's intown neighborhoods. The development will have sidewalks and street lights to complement the adjoining streetscape. A one-third mile greenway walking trail will also be developed as an additional amenity. These homes start in the mid $360's. Completion of these homes will begin in early 2003.
One of the best things about Kirkwood is its location. Kirkwood is just 5 miles from downtown Atlanta. Were surrounded by fun areas filled with shopping and restaurant such as downtown Decatur, Little 5 Points, Candler Park, East Atlanta and Virginia-Highland. Read here about the 2004 Kirkwood Tour of Homes. Also find our more about the neighborhood by taking a look at one of our local realtors, and kirkwood resident's, John Allen's agent newsletter.
Neighborhood amemities include: Bessie Branham Park (with community cyber center); DeKalb Memorial Park; Wesley Coan Park; East Lake Park; Charlie Yates Public Golf Course; East Lake YMCA; Atlanta-Fulton Public Library (Kirkwood Branch) Charles Drew Charter School
Restaurants: Baddabing! (Gourmet Take-away), Flying Biscuit, La Fonda, Fellini's, Gato Bizco Cafe, Joe Coffee, MoJo Pizza, Mammy's Kitchen, Universal Joint, Heaping Bowl and Brew, Margie's Pantry, Oz Pizza, Our Way Cafe, Mick's; Restaurants of Downtown Decatur
Shopping: DeKalb Farmers Market; Publix; Kroger; Shops of Downtown Decatur; Oakhurst Village; East Atlanta Village; Little Five Points; Avondale Estates
Kirkwood is also convenient to the airport; universities including Emory, Georgia State and Georgia Tech; and interstates including I-20 and the Downtown Connector (I-75/I-85). Best of all, were on the MARTA east rail line, with a station right here in Kirkwood (East Lake Station). Some Information provided by http://www.historic-kirkwood.com/