Capitol View Historic District
The Capitol View Historic District [†] was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.
The Capitol View Historic District is a large, urban, primarily residential neighborhood in Atlanta, south of Adair Park, east of Oakland City, west of Capitol View Manor, and northeast of Sylvan Hills. Downtown Atlanta is approximately four miles to the north/northeast. The neighborhood is roughly bounded to the north by the former Atlanta & West Point railroad line; to the west by Sylvan Road; to the south by the southern end of Perkerson Park; and to the east by Metropolitan Parkway (historically Stewart Avenue).
Capitol View's houses include good examples of several types and styles popular in Georgia towns from the early to mid-20th century. House types represented in the district include the Queen Anne Cottage, New South Cottage, Georgian Cottage, Central Hall Cottage, Pyramid Cottage, Gabled Wing Cottage, English Cottage, bungalow, American Small House, and Ranch House. The most prevalent styles are Craftsman, Colonial Revival, and English Vernacular Revival. The south side of the district is anchored by the 50-acre Perkerson Park (formerly Ragsdale Park), created by the city in the 1940s. Community landmark buildings include the Capitol View Masonic Lodge (1922) and the former Capitol View Elementary School (1927) designed by noted architect A. Ten Eyck Brown.
The district contains primarily single-family houses, which are arranged regularly on a gridiron street pattern. The historic houses reflect almost 100 years of residential architecture with a variety of types and styles common to middle-class communities in Georgia. Commercial properties are also present and are found in distinct nodes at the major intersections along Dill Avenue (at Metropolitan Parkway, Allene Avenue, and Sylvan Road). Mature trees shade sidewalks, which are present in most areas, and low rolling hills make for a walkable neighborhood.
The neighborhood is laid out on gently rolling hills with elevations varying between 940-1050 feet above mean sea level. The topography is lower to the south and west and the small stream that runs through Parkerson Park represents the lowest area in the district. The railroad line (former Atlanta & West Point) that forms part of the northern boundary of the district runs closely along a northwest-southeast ridgeline at 1000 feet above sea level. Like other surrounding historic neighborhoods, the interior portion of the residential area has numerous trees, including oak, pine, maple, and dogwood. Yards are generally well maintained with shrubs, planted trees, and manicured lawns.
The predominantly residential areas are located south of Hartford Place, mostly between Sylvan Road and Metropolitan Parkway. The majority of houses are single-family units. Duplexes are sparse and are interspersed throughout the neighborhood. Several that were constructed during the period of significance are located at 666 Dill Avenue, 984 Dill Avenue, 1371 Athens Avenue, 1429 Athens Avenue, 1431 Belmont Avenue, 1455 Beatie Avenue, 703 Erin Avenue, and 999 Arden Avenue (all contributing). One apartment building, distinct from the otherwise predominantly single-family houses in the district, is located at 1365 Sylvan Road (c.1951) and is considered a contributing property.
The Metropolitan Parkway/Dill Avenue intersection represents the highest density development within the district and is site to multiple commercial and institutional buildings. Sylvan Road also acts as an important north-south thoroughfare and there exists a distinct node of commercial properties at its intersection with Dill Avenue. These corners historically acted as neighborhood centers of commerce and activity which also correspond to the historic streetcar line. Other commercial properties are interspersed along Dill Avenue, Sylvan Road, and Metropolitan Parkway within the district.
The streets are laid out in a grid pattern oriented to the cardinal directions (north, east, south, and west). Blocks north of Dill Avenue are arranged on an east-west dominant axis more closely following the railroad which traverses a ridgeline north of the district. As a result, houses north of Dill Avenue tend to face north or south along long east-west blocks. Allene Avenue and Hartford Avenue represent exceptions to this general trend north of Dill Avenue. Blocks south of Dill Avenue follow a north-south dominant axis as the terrain descends in elevation to the south, becoming dissected by small drainages which have mostly been covered. Here houses are generally oriented east and west along long north-south blocks. Lot sizes vary between 45 and 75 feet wide and 130 to 150 feet deep. Along Fairbanks Street, Graham Street and Hartford Avenue, lot sizes are more uniform at 50 feet wide and 130 feet deep.
Houses throughout the district have a moderate setback (approximately 30 feet or less) with narrow side yards and a deep backyard. Front yard fences are uncommon, though present, while back yard fences are typical. Retaining walls are used where needed, though they are not a dominant feature throughout the district as there are few drastic elevation changes. Where present, retaining walls are of brick, stone, concrete masonry units, or reinforced concrete. Driveways are common features throughout. Streets are tree-lined. Most have sidewalks with the exception of the extensions of Beatie, Belmont, and Athens south of Deckner. Mature trees are present throughout the district and are common features on individual lots. Maintained lawns are common and some houses utilize foundation plantings. There are few vacant and overgrown lots.
Perkerson Park (c.1944), a 50-acre city of Atlanta Park, is a contributing site that comprises the southwest corner of the district and provides both passive and active recreation opportunities. The recreation building (a contributing building) is now used as the local polling facility. A stone restroom building is the other contributing building, and a large stone picnic pavilion is a contributing structure. The park includes a large sculpture near the northern entrance, one of the city of Atlanta's public art collection pieces, My Spirit is Changing by Toby Martin. Perkerson Park also has a playground, tennis courts, and a basketball court: each are non-contributing structures due to their late construction or changes after 1966. A baseball/softball complex is present atop a hill in the southwest corner of the park where pedestrian access is available to the Sylvan Hills neighborhood. While it was present during the historic period, this complex has been changed and expanded and is therefore counted as a noncontributing structure within the park. The small drainage that runs through Perkerson Park represents the lowest area in the district. This creek is channeled by a stone-and-mortar wall crossed by two small stone bridges. (The stonework and other small-scale elements such as grills are not included in the resource count, as they are an integral part of the contributing site.) Mature trees are present throughout the park and open, contoured greenspace allows for passive recreation opportunities.
The historic district also includes two community gardens, which have been recorded as vacant properties for the purpose of this nomination: one community garden is located at the northwest corner of Deckner Avenue and Allene Avenue, and the other is located at northeast corner of Dill Avenue and Allene Avenue.
Roads, Railroad, and Streetcars
An extension of the former Atlanta & West Point (A & WP) railroad line runs along a portion of the northern extent of the district. It is currently being converted into a paved trail known as the Beltline. The A & WP Railroad completed an 80-mile line from East Point (eight miles southwest of Atlanta) to LaGrange and West Point in 1854. In 1899 six additional miles of track were completed, connecting the A & WP line directly to the industrial hub of Atlanta (before 1899 A & WP trains were obliged to enter Atlanta on the Macon & Western line later Central of Georgia). The line crosses Metropolitan Parkway on a single-span, two-track, plate-girder railroad bridge situated on top of a pair of stepped, poured-in-place concrete retaining walls. The bridge is made of riveted steel girders and metal cross ties with heavy steel-plated sides and is a contributing structure with good integrity.
The early development of Capitol View was influenced by the presence of the streetcar line that once traveled from downtown Atlanta to Dill Avenue, first via McDaniel Avenue (c.1895) and later (c.1924) via Stewart Avenue (now Metropolitan Parkway). (See: Streetcar Suburbs, 1888 to 1928) Dill Avenue has historically acted as the primary east-west thoroughfare and an important focal point for development since the streetcar serviced the corridor into the 1930s. By 1895, before Capitol View was established as a subdivision, the Atlanta Traction Company operated a McDaniel Street-Dill Avenue-Ashby Street trolley line which connected Fort McPherson to downtown Atlanta and passed through what would become Capitol View on Dill Avenue. A 1902 map shows that the Georgia Railway & Electric Company opened a Lee Street trolley line to service Ft. McPherson. As a result, the former 1895 alignment is truncated at Ashby Street (currently Sylvan Road) on Dill Avenue. The 1920s transportation map shows the Stewart-Dill trolley line (operated by Georgia Railway & Electric Company) and the city limits that encompassed the Capitol View neighborhood. Capitol View was serviced by the Dill Avenue line until Atlanta's streetcar network was completely replaced by buses in the 1940s. There are few physical remnants of the historic trolley line, but the presence of several commercial buildings at street corners along Dill Avenue reflect probable historic streetcar stops, notably at Allene Avenue and Hartford Avenue.
The primary roads within the district appear to have been roughly in place prior to the Civil War. Maps dating to the 1860s depict a road alignment which runs directly north-south on the land lot boundary and closely resembles the modern Metropolitan Parkway alignment. An east-west intersecting road is thought to be either the current Dill Avenue or Deckner Avenue. These maps also depict a road that corresponds closely to the Sylvan Road corridor based on its intersection with the Central of Georgia (historically Macon & Western) railroad. A September 30, 1897 article in the Atlanta Constitution suggests Ashby Avenue (currently Sylvan Road) was in place by 1862.
Between 1904 and 1909 Stewart Avenue (now Metropolitan Parkway) was improved through the district and by 1925 Stewart Avenue was officially recognized as part of the Dixie Highway. The designation speaks to the importance of Stewart Avenue in the traffic patterns of the city of Atlanta and also in the emerging national road network. Capitol View prospered in the early years of the automobile as it had in the years of the streetcar. Situated conveniently to a major north-south transportation corridor in the bustling city of Atlanta, the district grew at a steady pace attracting both residents and businesses. Even in the early years of regional transportation expansion in the mid- to late 1940s, Capitol View and Stewart Avenue retained a place of importance. Between 1946 and 1950 the "west" bypass, also known as US Route 41, was designed to carry north-south through traffic west of the congested Atlanta city center on Northside Drive and Stewart Avenue. However, this was short-lived because in 1952 the new "South Expressway" (now the I-75/I-85 corridor) was completed south of University Avenue to the Atlanta city limit, effectively siphoning off through traffic north of the district on University Avenue. Though Capitol View would remain convenient for commuters to Atlanta, Capitol View would never again occupy such a prestigious location on a primary transportation corridor.
Residential buildings in the district are predominantly single-family houses of low scale, one to one-and-a-half stories in height with a moderate (approximately 20-to-30-foot) setback from the street. The contributing houses are reflective of the various periods of growth that occurred during the period of significance (c.1867-1966). The diverse housing types are typical of homes that were popular in Georgia during the late 19th and early 20th century and are also indicative of the variety of small-scale builders active in the area. Houses are typically wood frame set on brick piers, which have commonly been filled in. Brick and wood weatherboard are common house cladding materials. Asbestos shingles are also present in the district. The neighborhood followed two broad and distinct development periods reflected in the types of houses found north of Deckner Avenue and those found south of Deckner Avenue.
The first period of extensive residential development in Capitol View began shortly after 1900 north of Deckner Avenue. This area continued to infill and develop well into the 1920s. The most common house types in this area are bungalows. Houses with late Victorian influences are also prevalent, especially the New South Cottage. Georgian, Queen Anne, Gabled Wing, and English cottages are frequently found. There is one I-house at 669 Erin Street and several Side-Gabled cottages throughout. The second period of development began with the need for housing during and after WWII. This phase of development is reflected in houses west of Allene Avenue and south of Deckner Avenue, especially in the Fairmont Forest development south of Deckner Avenue. These houses are all either variants of the American Small House or early ranch houses built in the 1950s. There is a single 1961 split-level house in the district on Beechwood Avenue, north of Deckner Avenue.
The architectural styles in Capitol View are less diverse than the house types. Most houses exhibit some elements of academic styles, but there are very few high-style houses. Colonial Revival and Craftsman elements are predominant. English Vernacular Revival is also well represented.
The earliest extant buildings are related to an early family, the Deckners, who settled here after the Civil War. Their high-style Victorian houses are located along the main street, now Metropolitan Avenue. The oldest known Deckner family house, a Central Hall Cottage with rear ell built c.1867 cannot be seen from the street but is located behind the Second Empire-style house at 1488 Metropolitan Avenue, which was built by the Deckners in 1870. There is no evidence to suggest the original house was moved, but rather the house likely fronted on an extension of Deckner Avenue as seen on cadastral maps dating to 1928. The Deckner houses also include two Queen Anne cottages with Folk Victorian details at 1466 and 1474 Metropolitan Avenue. Another Deckner house at 1500 Metropolitan Avenue is a New South Cottage that does not exhibit any architectural style.
† Adapted from: Dennis P. Messick, historian, Historic Preservation Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Capitol View Historic District, Fulton County, GA, nomination document, 2016, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.