Looks can be deceiving, but behind Virginia-Highland’s gorgeous bungalow style homes and vibrant nightlife lies an alluring history dating back to the early 1800s!
For instance, did you know this suburban haven was originally an attractive farmland? No? Now you do! Let’s take a trip down memory lane so you can see just how much Virginia-Highland has changed over the years!
Recognize the Midtown Place Shopping Center on Ponce de Leon Avenue? Would you believe me if I told you this popular shopping center used to be a lake? It’s true! In 1890, a man by the name of Julius Hartman designed a man-made lake on Ponce de Leon Avenue. After the lake was drained in 1907, the Atlanta Crackers’ stadium was built in its place. The Midtown Place Shopping Center was opened in 2000 and is located in the valley where the lake was once located.
Check out this old map of Atlanta below! Recognize anything familiar? Yes, it is Virginia-Highland, but this 1893 map depicts Todd Road, one of the oldest known streets in Atlanta! The road directly linked the homesteads of Hardy Ivy and Richard Copeland Todd; Ivy is often considered Atlanta’s first settler, while Todd is credited for being one of the earliest pioneers to move into the area. This map shows Todd Road continuing off of Ponce de Leon Avenue before Ponce was extended into Decatur. A small portion of Todd Road still exists today, as shown on the corresponding Google Map.
Not everything in Virginia-Highland has changed from the early days including this gem, the Solomon Goodwin House. This house, the oldest existent house in DeKalb County, is was remains of a 600-acre farm originally owned by pioneer Solomon Goodwin in the 1830s! To early travelers heading to Marthasville (now known as Atlanta), the Solomon Goodwin house was known for its hospitality over generations, especially for Civil War refugees and the poor affected by the Great Depression.
The Solomon Goodwin house was expanded into the present home in the 1830s and 1840s. The home, as well as the burial grounds of the Goodwin family still stands at 3931 Peachtree Road near the intersection of North Druid Hills Road. Fun fact: family members hold open tours to the public on the third Sunday of every month from 1 pm to 4 pm!
But the history of Virginia-Highland doesn’t end there! Check out this timeline of other important moments in Virginia-Highland history.
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For a more visual exploration of Virginia-Highland history, check out this short film produced by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association.
Hope this trip down memory lane taught you a little something about the rich history of Atlanta and the Virginia-Highland neighborhood!