Fairway Oaks-Greenview Historic District
The Fairway Oaks-Greenview Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Fairway Oaks-Greenview Historic District is located in the city of Savannah, on the southeast Georgia coast, approximately three miles southwest of downtown, in a mid- to late-20th-century suburban area of the city. Fairway Oaks and Greenview are contiguous but discrete single-family residential subdivisions developed during the 1950s and early 1960s that display similar architectural and landscape characteristics as well as a common developmental history. Although each has a distinct character, they are physically integrated and historically interrelated. Like the earlier and similarly conjoined Ardsley Park and Chatham Crescent neighborhoods when they were first developed during the 1910s (listed in the National Register as a historic district in 1985), Fairway Oaks-Greenview was intended to be an exclusive, restricted suburban development catering to Savannah's upper-middle and upper classes.
Both developments capitalized on the prospects of suburban living and a country-club lifestyle due to their location beyond the city limits and adjacent to a county park and golf course. The earlier and larger subdivision is Fairway Oaks. It was developed between 1950 and 1957 by Max Hostetter and James Richmond. It features curvilinear streets, three cul-de-sacs, and two perimeter roadways, which isolate it from adjacent thoroughfares, and it opens onto an adjacent public park and golf course (not included in the district). The main entrance, off Waters Avenue, is a short divided parkway with landscaped median and subdivision signage. Development took place from the south, nearest the park and golf course, with the oldest and largest houses, to the north, with later and smaller houses. The subdivision contains 176 houses; 60% are Ranch-style houses, 20% are American Small Houses, and the remainder are Split-Level houses and two-story houses. The Colonial Revival style predominates, although other architectural styles including the Contemporary and Modern are present. Most of the houses are wood-framed with brick veneer; a distinct feature is the use of salvaged "Savannah Grey" brick. Development of the adjacent and interconnected Greenview subdivision was begun by Max Hostetter in 1956 as his Fairway Oaks development was nearing completion and continued into the early 1960s. Access to the newer subdivision, which also borders the park and golf course, was through Fairway Oaks. Greenview features an H-shaped street layout containing 39 original building lots. House types and styles are similar to those in Fairway Oaks, but the houses are larger and more architecturally elaborate. Several houses were designed by noted Savannah architects including Juan Bertoto, Carl Helfrich, Jr., and John LeBey, and at least one house was designed by a Florida architect, Mark Garrison Hampton, associated with the "Sarasota School" of contemporary design. Landscaping is informal throughout the district with open lawns and large pine and oak trees. With a few exceptions, streets in the Fairway Oaks subdivision have no curbs; streets in Greenview are curbed. There are no sidewalks. Most of the houses have integral carports or garages. There are very few noncontributing properties in the district; all are houses built after the period of significance.
Developed in 1950, Fairway Oaks was one of the first residential developments in Savannah to break with the traditional "pre-war" mode of planning that had been employed up to this point. Rather than continuing the standard grid-pattern of landscaped streets and uniform lot sizes used in such early 20th century suburban Savannah developments as Ardsley Park, Chatham Crescent, Ardmore, and Lee-Olin Heights, Fairway Oaks featured large wooded lots of varying shapes and sizes set among a series of curvilinear streets. The location of the subdivision outside the Savannah city limits provided the illusion of country living while its development adjacent to the public golf course at Bacon Park provided a country club atmosphere, an effect that was intentional as Bacon Park Drive once served as the entrance to the golf course. The name of the development, Fairway Oaks, derives from its location adjacent the fifth hole of the golf course, which serves as the southern border of the subdivision and is overlooked by the houses situated along Bacon Park Drive. Fairwray Oaks was intended to be an exclusive, restricted subdivision catering to Savannah's middle and upper-middle classes. Along with Kensington Park, a similar but slightly later mid-20th-century subdivision located on the west side of Waters Avenue, Fairway Oaks was considered one of the most modern, progressive communities of its era and was home to some of the most significant business and civic leaders of 1950s and 1960s Savannah. The earliest and most substantial houses in Fairway Oaks were built in the southern portion of the development on streets located closest to the golf course. As a result, most of the high-style residences, including practically all of the two-story Colonial Revival (Georgian-type) and Monterey-style houses as well as Contemporary-style and large Split-Level houses, are located on or near Bacon Park Drive and the southern portions of Waters and Brightwood drives. Several of these residences appear to be architect-designed. In addition, many of these same houses were built with "Savannah Grey" brick exteriors - a premium brick veneer utilized by local contractors throughout Savannah in the construction of upscale housing during the 1950s, much of it salvaged from demolished 19th-century buildings in downtown Savannah. Smaller and later houses were built in the northern portion of the subdivision, toward DeRenne Avenue.
Although a few small, postwar residential developments in Savannah employed the limited use of curvilinear streets in their plans (for example, the ca. 1949 Lamara Heights Subdivision and the ca. 1950 Lamara and Nelson Apartments complex to the north of DeRenne Avenue), Fairway Oaks was one of the first modern, up-scale, single-family subdivisions in Savannah to adopt all of the elements of the modern mid-20th-century referred pattern for subdivision development. This subdivision pattern traces its roots to the mid-19th century, although it didn't become widespread until the late 19th and early-20th-centuries. In Georgia, Atlanta's Druid Hills, initially planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, was one of the first large-scale "picturesque" subdivisions in the state. The first golf-course subdivisions also followed this pattern and have continued to do so to this day; Brookhaven, in north Atlanta, developed starting in the 1910s, was one of the first golf-course subdivisions in the Southeast to employ this pattern. (Both Druid Hills and Brookhaven are listed on the National Register.) During the 1930s the newly formed Federal Housing Administration (FHA) adopted the pattern and many of its characteristics, including the curvilinear street plan, cul-de-sacs, irregularly shaped lots, and isolation from major thoroughfares, as the preferred subdivision pattern (as opposed to the traditional grid pattern of development). This "official" action in turn spawned many new developments all across the country, first with the American Small House and then Ranch-type houses. It appears that the Savannah real estate community was initially slow to adopt the FHA's model subdivision pattern as practically all of the new residential developments built during the city's late-1940s building boom continued the pre-war grid plan. The one exception appears to have been the Forrest Hills subdivision, north of DeRenne Avenue and east of the Casey Canal, a neighborhood of American Small Houses that was developed starting in 1947 with a curvilinear street plan. Fairway Oaks, starting in 1950, was Savannah's first upscale subdivision, featuring the new and larger mid-century Ranch, Split-Level, and two-story houses, to adopt the FHA's subdivision model. It was quickly followed by nearby Groveland (1950), Kensington Park (1951), and Magnolia Park (1953). All four of these mid-century subdivisions border DeRenne Avenue on the north and are located adjacent to one another between Abercorn Street and Skidaway Road. While all of the these subdivisions were developed to take advantage of their respective proximity to Bacon Park, Fairway Oaks is the only one of the four that adjoins the public golf course.
Greenview is a small subdivision of 39 houses located south of Bacon Park Drive and east of Waters Avenue. Its western boundary borders the public golf course. Access to the subdivision is via Sweetbriar Circle off Bacon Park Drive, a street shared with the adjoining Fairway Oaks subdivision. Greenview subdivision was developed starting in 1956 by one of the principal developers of the earlier Fairway Oaks when that adjacent subdivision neared completion. The new development offered 39 home sites with six lots overlooking the golf course. Framed by Waters Avenue on the west, Sweet Bay Lane on the south, and the fifth hole of the public golf course on the east, Greenview Subdivision has only two streets: Sweetbriar Circle, which is accessed from Bacon Park Drive, and Lawndale Road, a crossroad that bisects Sweetbriar Circle. The back property lines of the houses along the western arc of Sweetbriar Circle abut Waters Avenue and are physically and visually insulated from that thoroughfare by a continuous Savannah Grey brick wall that runs the length of the western boundary of the subdivision.
Most of the houses in Greenview were built between 1958 and 1965 (a total of 28 buildings or approximately 75%). Like those in the geographically contiguous southern portion of Fairway Oaks, houses in Greenview represent some of the finest modern domestic architecture of the late 1950s and early 1960s found in Savannah. Architecturally, the houses are similar to those in Fairway Oaks in terms of height, styles, types, and exterior materials, although they tend to be larger, following a nationwide trend starting in the late 1950s. The most common architectural styles are variants of the Colonial Revival and Contemporary. As elsewhere at mid-century, slightly more than half of the houses in the subdivision display no academic style, for example). The Ranch is by far the most common type in the development, but there also are examples of the Split-Level and two-story houses.
There are several very good early examples of modern domestic architecture in Greenview that exhibit cutting-edge contemporary designs representative of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The architect-designed house at 1234 Lawndale Road (ca. 1964) is an exceptional example of the California or "Western" Contemporary-style Ranch house with its textured brick walls, broad gable roofs with exposed beams, and integrated courtyard, and the house at 1229 Sweetbriar Circle (ca. 1960-64) is a rare two-story Contemporary-style house with dramatic fenestration. The houses at 5605 Sweetbriar Circle (ca. 1960) and 1212 Sweetbriar Circle (ca. 1960) are Split-Level houses, incorporating the characteristic three levels of flooring, but with Contemporary stylistic treatments. While many of the Greenview ranch houses are similar to those in Fairway Oaks (with Savannah Grey brick exteriors, decorative wrought-iron detailing, multi-light sash windows, and shutters), the Ranch houses at 1216 Sweetbriar Circle and 5730 Sweetbriar Circle feature elements of the Contemporary style with their clean-cut styling and the absence of historical motifs, metal-and-glass curtain walls, bands of sliding clerestory windows, and decorative concrete-block privacy screens. The Ranch house at 1215 Sweetbriar Circle exhibits the California or Southwestern "rustic" stylistic treatment with its irregular form, board-and-batten siding inserts, and exposed rafter ends.
Of the 39 houses in the Greenview subdivision, the architects for three have been positively identified. (It is likely that many of the houses in Greenview are architect-designed; this seems especially probable of the houses along Sweetbriar Circle that overlook the golf course.) Internationally renowned Florida architect Mark Garrison Hampton, FAIA, one of a small group of like-minded young modern architects practicing along the Gulf Coast during the 1950s collectively known as the "Sarasota School of Architecture," designed the house at 5614 Sweetbriar Circle for Patricia and Albert F. Weis in 1959. Albert Weis owned and managed a local movie theater chain. The Weis House is an exceptional two-story, steel frame, International-style house with a boxy form, flat roof, metal-and-glass curtain walls, large sliding glass doors, wood sunshades, raised floors with floating staircases, verandahs, and concrete patios. The house is representative of the style of regional modernism—sometimes called "Florida Modern"—for which Hampton and his colleagues became well known. It was awarded "outstanding design in steel construction" for 1959 by Architectural Review magazine. Prominent Savannah architect Juan Bertoto, AIA, designed the house at 1234 Lawndale Road, right across the street from the Weis House, for Randolph Brooks, a vice-president of a local bank, in 1964. The house is an exceptional example of the California or "Western" Contemporary-style Ranch house and features a main cross-gabled section with a widely overhanging, low-pitched roof, glass-enclosed gable ends, exposed structural beams, walled courtyard, and multi-textured brick veneer exterior. Prominent Savannah architect Carl Edward Helfrich, AIA (1909-1987) designed the house at 5714 Sweetbriar Circle for Jeane D. and Hugh R. Papy in 1959; Hugh Papy was the vice-president of Metal Stamp, Inc. & Savannah Chimney Manufacturing, Inc. The house is a traditional one-and-a-half story, Colonial Revival-style house with gable roof dormers, Savannah Grey brick exterior, classical door surround, 16/16 double-hung windows, and two-car garage wing.
The areas surrounding the Fairway Oaks-Greenview Historic District contain concentrations of historic and non-historic properties. West of the district, directly across Waters Avenue, is Kensington Park Subdivision, a similar mid-20th-century subdivision developed starting ca. 1951. North of the district, directly across DeRenne Avenue, is a residential area consisting of small bungalows and workers housing built from the 1930s through the 1950s. To the northwest of the intersection of Waters Avenue and DeRenne Avenue is modern commercial strip development; pockets of historic commercial buildings including 1950s gas stations and a small suburban shopping center are located along this section of DeRenne Avenue as well. East of the Fairview Oaks subdivision but included in the historic district is a wooded area—the remnants of the Fairway Oaks Association's common land—adjacent the Casey Canal and the Truman Parkway. South of the district is the Bacon Park Golf Course and a small, wooded, 1960s residential subdivision located between Waters Avenue and the golf course.
† Richard Cloues, Historic Preservation Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Fairview Oaks-Greenview Historic District, Chatham County, GA, nomination document, 2009, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.