Northwoods Historic District Earns A Spot on National Register of Historic Places

Nothwoods Historic District in DeKalb CountyNorthwoods Historic District, located in Doraville, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on June 2, 2014. The Northwoods Area Neighborhood Association sponsored the nomination and graduate students in the Heritage Preservation Program at Georgia State University prepared the nomination materials.

Northwoods Historic District, located east of Buford Highway, north of Chamblee-Tucker Road, west of I-85 and south of I-285, was developed as part of an explosion of growth in suburban DeKalb County in the years following World War II. The neighborhood provided housing and other amenities for workers in new industries in the area, such as the Doraville General Motors plant, which began operating in 1947.

The district is one of the first planned tract developments in Georgia that included a mixture of houses, schools, parks, churches, and shopping centers. The main developer was Walter Talley, who tried to maintain low costs and high quality in order to appeal to young middle-class families. He also worked closely with architects Ernest Mastin and John Summer, graduates of the Georgia Institute of Technology, to devise six single-family home model floor plans, which could also be customized.

Covering approximately 500 acres and built out primarily between 1950 and the mid-1960s, Northwoods Historic District consists of five contiguous and historically related suburban developments including Northwoods, Gordon Hills, Gordon Heights, Fleetwood Hills, and Sequoyah Woods. It is significant for its collection of mid-20th century houses, community landmark, and institutional buildings that followed current national trends in contemporary architecture. Predominant residential architecture includes ranch houses and split-level houses, especially on sloping lots.

Other significant buildings include the semi-circular Presbyterian Church of the New Covenant, designed by architect Jack Durham Haynes; two sprawling modern schools, which were early designs by prominent architect John Portman; and the Herb Butler Union Hall on Buford Highway. It also features notable planned development characteristics of its era, including uniform setbacks, minimum lot and house sizes, and seven road entrances in consideration of automobile-centric lifestyle requirements.

The National Register of Historic Places is our country’s official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts worthy of preservation. It provides formal recognition of a property’s architectural, historical, or archaeological significance. The Register also identifies historic properties for planning purposes and insures that these properties will be considered in the planning of state or federally assisted projects. National Register listing encourages preservation of historic properties through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants. Listing in the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property.

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