Neighborhood of the Month – March 2017

Boulevard Historic District

Boulevard Historic District is an Athens streetcar suburb dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Boulevard, the street after which the district is named, runs east to west through the center of the district. With the construction of the streetcar line in the 1890’s the neighborhood developed quickly. There was another boost in development in the early 20th century when the construction of mill housing near the Seaboard rail line. Boulevard is one of the widest streets in Athens due to the streetcar line that ran through the neighborhood in years past. The Lots in the neighborhood are generally long and rectangular with 1-2 story houses situated centered towards the front of the lot, allowing for large backyards. The houses on Boulevard are generally bigger than those on adjoining streets. The three oldest houses are Greek Revival mansions, two of which are individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the Taylor-Grady House and the University President’s House. The other architectural styles present in the neighborhood are Victorian Eclectic, American Foursquare, Neoclassical, Bungalow, and Shotguns. The Brightwell Shotgun houses are listed as an individual Historic District on the National Register, and were later included in the boundaries for the Boulevard Historic District at a local level. Pictured below is the original National Register Boundaries for the Boulevard Historic District. Also of note to the neighborhood is its park-like charm, made possible by the mixture of formal gardens and informal yards. Boulevard used to be lined with street trees, but most of those were destroyed by a tornado in 1973.



Emmanuel Episcopal Church

This Gothic-style stone church was built in 1899 on Prince Avenue once the congregation outgrew the previous 1843 New England style church at the corner of Lumpkin and Clayton Streets. The church is built of Georgia granite with stained glass windows. One of the windows was moved from the old 1843 church and placed in the new church. It had been a gift of the Sunday School Children to the church. In 1925 the Bloomfield Bell Tower was added and dedicated to Robert L. Bloomfield for his role in the transportation of the granite for the church. The grounds, the rectory and the parish hall were all designed by Charles Morton Strahan. Today the church has undergone additions and renovations to accommodate a modern congregation, but the original church is still intact. For more information, click here.


Heirloom Cafe

Heirloom Cafe’s mission is to celebrate local farmers and the community by crafting a fresh take on heritage dishes. They provide locally sources farm-to-table meals. Heirloom Cafe was built in the 1960s, and was originally used as an Amoco gas station. It is a one story modern commercial structure. Heirloom was also a winner of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation’s Excellence in Community Revitalization Award in 2012, and has served Boulevard as an intimate cafe ever since. After it was an Amoco, the building was used as an auto repair shop. This previous use is still noticeable in the current facade which uses original windows and a glass garage door. The interior white brick which was also used in the auto shop, helps retain the building’s connection to its past.


Taylor-Grady House

The Taylor-Grady house was built in the 1840s and is a National Historic Landmark. The house is a two-story Greek Revival dwelling with a raised basement.Thirteen white-painted and fluted Doric columns support the gallery. The columns are said to represent the original thirteen colonies. The home was purchased in 1863 and used as a summer home by wealthy planter General Robert Taylor and his wife Eliza. When their sons attended the University of Georgia, it served the Taylors as a full-time residence. In 1866, Anne Gattrell Grady and her son Henry W. Grady lived in the home while Henry attended college. Electricity, modern plumbing, an extension, and a kitchen wing were added in the early 1900s. The house was vacant from 1953 to 1966 when it was sold to the Athens Junior Assembly, which took action to stabilize the structure and preserve it for generations. The significance of the house is based on both its architectural elements and the efforts of Henry W. Grady to help bridge the divide between the North and South, as a spokesman for the latter. He also helped make the Atlanta Constitution a leading regional newspaper. Today, the house is still maintained by the Athens Junior Assembly. It is used for public historic tours and private events.


University President’s House

The Grant-Hill-Bradshaw House, more commonly known as the University of Georgia President’s House is located at 570 Prince Avenue. Since 1949 UGA President’s have lived in this house rent free due to a Columbus Foundation donation to the University System Board of Regents. The house was built in 1856 by John Thomas Grant and is one of the oldest houses in Athens. The University of Georgia website describes he house best with the following: “This two-story frame building displays a raised basement and a four-over-four room, central hall plan. Architecturally representative of the Greek Revival style, the house features a three-sided peristyle with fourteen columns supported by jack pillars; eight columns accent the facade and an additional three extend back along either side of the building. The heroic porch is one of the few surviving examples that possess an entablature wholly below the roof line and above the windows. In the manner typical of Georgia’s Piedmont region, there is no pediment. The entrance displays sidelights and a transom of etched glass, square antae and consoles, Corinthian pilasters, and Doric entablature. A balcony with turned balusters ornaments a less elaborate second-floor doorway. A double staircase has replaced the original straight flight of steps, and in rear, wings flank a two-story Doric porch, originally a simple one-story porch.”


Brightwell Shotgun Row

The Brightwell Shotgun Row was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. It consists of six double shotgun houses that are representative of the traditionally African-American neighborhood of New Town, which sat on the Seaboard rail line and was adjacent to the Boulevard neighborhood. The six houses are nearly identical, having been built by Helen Brightwell between 1934 and 1940, but vary slightly in their floor plans (pictured). The double shotgun is characterized as having two residential units that share a common wall, where the doorways are aligned from front to rear with no hallway. Shortly after all six were completed, they were converted into single family dwellings. They have since changed ownership several times, and are now rented to University of Georgia students.



Photo Gallery, by Kristin Karch