Shirley Hills Historic District
The Shirley Hills Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. Portions of the content of this page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2014, The Gombach Group.
The Shirley Hills Historic District is a large, planned residential neighborhood located along the east bank of the Ocmulgee River north of downtown Macon. The neighborhood is characterized by meandering streets that follow the dramatic topography with mostly large houses set on wooded lots above and below street level. First laid out in 1922, the neighborhood included five covenants on lot purchases that controlled use, setback, siting, minimum value of houses, and the types of animals allowed. Houses range from large Colonial Revival style houses to small bungalows. In 1939 the Shirley Hills Addition was platted, and by 1940, divisions A through H of the Addition were platted as "Macon's newest exclusive residential section," according to the Macon Telegraph and News. Developed mostly between 1946 and 1967, the Shirley Hills Addition, which lies north of the original Shirley Hills neighborhood, includes one- and two-story Colonial Revival-style houses and a large concentration of Ranch houses and split-level houses. Shirley Hills includes houses designed by Macon's most prominent architects. The northernmost part of the district also includes the Shirley Hills Annex, which was platted in 1956 and includes ranch houses primarily built in the 1960s. The district also includes the Twin Pines Apartments (1940), the modern Woodland Christian Church (1956), and the Colonial Revival-style Highland Hills Baptist Church (1967). The district retains a high degree of integrity.
The subdivision plan of Shirley Hills was designed in the mode of picturesque landscape planning prevalent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and set forth by the work of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. This picturesque planning concept is seen in the winding streets that are placed to follow the naturally hilly terrain, the large lots that allowed for large open spaces, and the informal, yet carefully planned, landscaping that provides a heavily wooded setting. Land subdivision was largely dependent on the curving street layout.
The landscaping elements of Shirley Hills emphasize the picturesque setting of the subdivision plan. These elements are informal yet carefully planned to give a natural and parklike appearance to the neighborhood. The landscape features include shade and ornamental trees such as hardwoods, pines, and dogwoods so that many places appear to be naturally wooded; informal arrangements of shrubs and other plantings; broad expanses of grassy lawns; flower gardens; stone and brick retaining walls; curving concrete drives and walks curbed with stone and brick; and cobblestone gutters that provide curbside drainage on several of the neighborhood streets.
The two neighborhood parks are also characteristic landscape features. The larger Jackson Springs Park is almost entirely naturally wooded with some plantings. This 10-acre park is between South Jackson Springs Road and Curry Drive. The smaller Andrew Jackson Park is informally landscaped with shade and ornamental trees, shrubs, and curving stone retaining walls. Located on Nottingham Drive at Jackson Springs Road, the park is informally landscaped with trees, shrubs, and stone retaining walls. The inclusion of park areas in the plan was another important tenet of the picturesque planning concept.
Lots throughout the district are generally large with some of the largest lots along Twin Pines Drive. The smallest lots are in the southern end of the district along Nottingham Drive, Glenridge Drive, Parkview Drive, and Curry Drive. While its character is somewhat different from the rest of the area, this section is clearly part of the Shirley Hills subdivision on early plat maps. In most cases, the houses are set back on the lots so that the front yard landscaping appears to be continuous throughout the district. Unpaved alleyways run through the center of each block to provide rear access to each property. Restrictive covenants dictated the setback and siting of the houses and a minimum house value to insure that development of the subdivision would follow the planning principles set forth in the neighborhood's design plan. There are no sidewalks.
The overall architectural character of the district is of substantial, finely detailed houses that together form a collection of early to mid-20th-century residential architecture that is representative of the many stylistic influences of the period. The houses are generally wood-framed with brick, stone, stucco, and wood cladding, which is typical of residential construction techniques and use of materials during this time period.
The subdivision was largely developed from 1922 through the 1960s on land that came from the estate of Augustus Octavius Bacon (1839-1914), a Georgia legislator and U.S. Senator. Bacon's house was in the area south of the intersection of Nottingham and Parkview drives, and much of the area was farmed by him. The subdivision got its name from Bacon's granddaughter, Shirley. The trustees of Bacon's estate were in charge of the development of Shirley Hills in the early 1920s and were assisted in the development by the Macon realty firm of Murphey, Taylor, and Ellis. The first area to be developed was along Nottingham Drive north of Senate Place. This early development occurred in 1922 and continued through 1941. The city boundaries at that time ran down Senate Place, so that Shirley Hills was outside the city
Several well-known Macon architects were commissioned to design houses in Shirley Hills, including W. Elliott Dunwody, Ellamae Ellis League, Bernard Webb, Harry MacEwen, and the firm of Dennis and Dennis. (See end of this section for a list of houses designed by each.) The houses were designed in the popular period styles that included many different revival styles as well as 20th-century innovations. The Colonial Revival, Classical Revival, and English Vernacular Revival styles are the most common, while examples of Italian Renaissance Revival, French Vernacular Revival, Mediterranean Revival/Spanish Colonial Revival , and Mission Revival styles are also present. The Craftsman style can be found in the smaller houses, especially the Craftsman Bungalow.
The later Shirley Hills Addition is located adjacent to and north of the original Shirley Hills Historic District. The majority of the Addition was platted in the late 1930s and 1940s by H.D. Cutter. Division L, Section 2, which comprises the section around Lincoln Circle and Lincoln Road, was platted in 1961. The Addition is considered a "picturesque" subdivision with curvilinear streets and naturalistic plantings similar to the original Shirley Hills development. The Addition's lots for the most part are large and wooded with varying shapes and sizes. The principal streets in the Addition are Nottingham Drive, Waverland Drive, Briarcliff Road, Hawthorne Road, Twin Pines Drive, and Upper River Road. There are several secondary streets, which are Waverland Circle, Lone Oak Drive, Lincoln Circle, Lincoln Road, Peyton Place, Lullwater Circle, Twin Pines Lane, and Woodland Drive. Houses within the Addition are largely ranch or split-level type houses. These types have been defined in Georgia's Living Places: Historic Houses in Their Landscaped Settings. In addition, Guidelines for Evaluation—The Ranch House in Georgia provides guidance for evaluation of the ranch house.
The English Cottage house type is usually associated with the English Vernacular Revival style in Georgia. The type has cross-gable massing and a front chimney. There are several houses of this type along Nottingham Drive. The two-story Georgian House type is found predominately in the southern part of the district. This house type was often built in cities in the early part of the 20th century in Georgia. The house features a central hallway with two rooms on either side. Examples in Shirley Hills can be found at 1272 Jackson Springs Road, 1435 Twin Pines Drive, and 1075 S. Jackson Springs Road in a variety of styles.
Ranch houses are the primary type of resource found throughout the Addition and Annex sections of the district. Most of the houses were built in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of the houses were designed from plan books, but some are known to have been architect designed.
Local Macon architect Harry A. MacEwen designed two Contemporary or Modern-style ranch houses on Nottingham Drive. The first house, located at 1211 Nottingham Drive, was designed in 1950. The large plate-glass windows and low-pitched roof are distinctive. The second house, 1275 Nottingham Drive, was designed in 1951.
MacEwen also designed the house at 1308 Waverland Drive in the 1940s. It is a one-story brick ranch house with a garage angled off the front right side that is connected by an arched breezeway. Another of MacEwen's designs, located at 1710 Waverland Drive, appeared in the August 25, 1940 edition of The Macon Telegraph and News. The article indicates that MacEwen designed this house for himself. It is described as a "rambling type that lends itself to ingenious room arrangement."
Macon architect, Ellamae Ellis League, designed the ranch house at 1354 Nottingham Drive in the late 1940s. It is a large courtyard ranch house built of light colored brick sited a good distance from the road. It has many large plate-glass windows that are flanked by awning windows. Another ranch house design by League was completed in 1955 at 1541 Lone Oak Drive. It is a wood-sided ranch with large plate-glass windows.
League and her daughter, Jean League Newton, designed the house at 1849 Waverland Drive in 1950 for Joseph and Mary Jane League. This house was the first mid-20th-century ranch house individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places in the state of Georgia (2008). It is sided with California redwood.
W. Elliott Dunwody Jr. designed the house at 1302 Waverland Drive in 1949. The house is a one-story, wood-sided courtyard ranch house with rear ell. Jim Barfield, author of Architectural Works of W. Elliott Dunwody, Jr., FA/A, describes this house as being, "streamlined traditional." The goal in designing this house was to "combine the openness of postwar contemporary spaces with the reassurance of traditional decorative elements." It is sited close to the road to provide maximum room for gardens in the rear.
The ranch house at 1830 Waverland Circle was designed by Jackson R. Holiday. This brick L-shaped ranch house was built in 1953.
There are several houses within the Addition that are ranch houses with central hallways, which we are calling "Georgian" ranch houses. The exteriors of these houses are low and linear in keeping with the ranch form. On the inside, however, the spaces are formal with rooms emanating off a central hall. These houses have formal front entrances, with a pediment and columns, recessed side wings, and an interior central hallway. Three of these that have been documented with these features are located at 1265 Waverland Drive, 1487 Waverland Drive, and 1430 Briarcliff Road. The house located at 1265 Waverland Drive was built for Marion Sparks in 1949; the architect is unknown. The Marion Sparks family was descended from Senator A.O. Bacon. The current owner, Doris S. DeBlanc, is the builder's granddaughter.
A large, one-story, brick house at 1487 Waverland Drive was built in 1949 for Frank M. Houser Jr. This is the second example of the "Georgian" ranch house. It is low and linear on the exterior like other ranch houses, but has a very formal interior layout. This house has a large central hall flanked by a formal living room and dining room. At the end of the entrance hall is a sitting room that looks out onto the back yard.
The third example of this house type is located at 1430 Briarcliff Road. This house features a central entrance hall with formal living and dining rooms to the right. A hallway is accessed at the end of the entrance hall that leads to a family room and three bedrooms.
A similar house, at 1515 Briarcliff Road is attributed to Ellamae Ellis League and was built 1958. The one-and-a-half story wood shingle house with dormers has a central entrance and recessed side wings similar to the other three houses. It is not known whether the house has a central hallway.
While not a ranch house, the house at 1620 Waverland Drive was designed in 1942 by Ellamae Ellis League for Henry Burns Jr., owner of Burns Brick. The one-and-a-half story house with side wings setback from the main block was built completely out of brick and once boasted a brick swimming pool. A rendering of the house appeared in the August 25, 1940 edition of The Macon Telegraph and News. It was described as a "complete masonry tile home ... sturdy and of attractive Georgia design."
Lincoln Circle and Lincoln Road were the last roads to be laid out within the Shirley Hills Addition. This area was platted in 1961. Most of the houses in this section are large ranch houses built in the 1960s.
There are several split-level houses located in the Shirley Hills Addition. Split-level houses have three levels, two of which are stacked, with the third level located between the other two. The main entrance is located near the center of the house in the middle level. The split-level houses are scattered throughout the district. One is located at 1675 Waverland Drive. It was built in 1959 for Clifford Ray. Others are located at 1806 Lullwater Place, 1431 Briarcliff Road, and at 1257 Twin Pines Drive. The Ellamae Ellis League-designed, brick, split-level house at 1461 Lone Oak Drive was built in 1942.
Ellamae Ellis League designed 1790 Waverland Drive as her own home in 1940. It is sided with American redwood clapboards and has a cedar shake roof. It is an asymmetrical house with a split-level floor plan with a built-in garage on the basement level, living spaces on the first level, and two bedrooms on the second level. It sits on a large lot with a number of trees and shrubs. It was individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
The only apartment complex in the district is the Twin Pines Apartments at 1585 Hawthorne Road, which were completed in 1940. The six individual buildings sit on a five-acre site. The two-story brick apartment buildings were constructed under the Federal Housing Authority and built by the McCowen Construction Company.
Houses within the district reflect a large number of house styles popular in Georgia in the 20th century. The Colonial Revival style is found throughout the district and a good example of the style, designed by Elliott Dunwody, is at 1161 Nottingham Drive. The two-and-one-half-story house is of red brick with a symmetrical front facade. The emphasis is placed on the center entrance with a pedimented crown supported by Ionic pilasters. A semi-circular fanlight above the entrance door is repeated in the round-headed roof dormers.
The house at 1873 Waverland Drive was built in 1939 for Thomas Peeler owner of the Peeler Hardware Company. It is a two-story Georgian Revival style house with a one-story curved portico. On the corner of Waverland Drive and Briarcliff Road is 1588 Waverland Drive. This two-story Georgian Revival house was built c.1945 on land platted in 1939 by H. D. Cutter.
The Colonial Revival style is also a commonly used style in the district. An example at 1435 Twin Pines Drive was designed by Ellamae Ellis League in 1937. The house has a two-story pedimented front portico typical of the style.
The English Vernacular Revival style is used in many variations in the district. A good example of the style is located at 969 Nottingham Drive. Designed by Elliott Dunwody c.l937, the house has the characteristic steeply pitched front gables and variety of materials including brick, wood siding and posts, and decorative half-timbering.
The house at 972 Nottingham Drive, constructed c.1924, is an example of the Italian Renaissance Revival style used on several houses in the district. The symmetrical front facade with a first-floor row of arched windows suggestive of a loggia and red-tile hipped roof are characteristic features of the style.
The French Vernacular Revival style was used on several district houses as well. The house at 916 Nottingham Drive designed by Ellamae Ellis League in 1937 is a good example. The tall, steeply pitched, hipped roof with dormers and segmentally arched openings are typical of the style.
The house at 1158 Oakcliff Road is an example of the Mediterranean Revival style. Constructed in 1926-1927, the house is asymmetrical with smooth stucco walls, hipped tile roof, and round-arched openings.
The Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival style is represented by 1217 Jackson Springs Road, constructed in 1936. Its stuccoed walls, low roof, and mission-shaped loggia parapet are typical of the style.
A number of Craftsman-style houses are found in the district. Wide eaves with exposed rafters, decorative brackets, and porches with square posts on piers are characteristic features. Several houses with elements of this style can be found on Nottingham Drive.
Newer house styles are found primarily on the ranch houses in the district. While most of the ranch houses have Colonial Revival-style elements, some of the ranch houses reflect the Contemporary or Modern style. Examples include 1426 Briarcliff Road, which is a Contemporary-style ranch house, built c.1950. Another is 1340 Briarcliff Road, which has a butterfly roof.
The Shirley Hills Annex was subdivided by the Thornton Realty Company for the Woodland Christian Church in 1956. The majority of the houses in the Shirley Hills Annex were built in the 1960s. Construction of the Woodland Christian Church began in 1956. The lots on Woodland Drive are large and wooded. The houses on the east side of Woodland Drive are set fairly close to the street with large wooded backyards. Heading south on Upper River Road there is an Ellamae Ellis League designed house at 2024 Upper River Road. It was designed in 1959 for Frank Lee and is a Contemporary-style ranch house.
One of the rarer house types in the district is the split-foyer. Split-foyer type houses have a central hallway with stairs up and down to each of the two levels. Completed in 1964, 2031 Woodland Drive is a split-foyer house. It is brick with a two-story portico on the central block of the house.
† Lynn Speno, National Register Specialist, Historic Preservation Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Shirley Hills Historic District (Boundary Increase and Additional Documentation), nomination document, 2014, National Park Service, NR #14000269, Washington, D.C., accessed September, 2014.