Druid Hills Historic District
The Druid Hills Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The Druid Hills Historic District is located northwest of downtown Hendersonville. It is bounded roughly by U.S. Highway 25 N. on the east, Ridgewood Avenue on the west, Meadowbrook Terrace on the north, and Ashwood Road on the south. The Druid Hills Historic District consists of seventy-six contributing houses and outbuildings, and twenty-seven noncontributing houses and outbuildings. Most of the non-contributing buildings are less than fifty years old, but there are also historic buildings that have been significantly altered and are considered non-contributing. Nine vacant lots are included in the district. The Druid Hills Historic District encompasses approximately twenty-seven acres, and consists of the original section of Druid Hills which was platted July 10, 1923. Later platted sections of the Druid Hills development did not materialize and are not part of this nomination.
The landscape of Druid Hills, in all probability designed by landscape architect Earle Sumner Draper, exemplifies the "Olmstedian" concept of land planning and consists of a number of curvilinear streets with mature trees and a public open space at the juncture of Druid Hills Avenue, Kimberly Avenue, and Norwood Place. Intersections of many of the streets have triangular medians to direct traffic and retain the curvilinear design element. Individual lots range from large to small, with some lots having more than one resource on them, and many lots drop significantly in elevation from front to rear. Landscaping throughout the Druid Hills Historic District includes stone retaining walls, picket fences, perennial beds, and both deciduous and evergreen trees.
Architectural styles in the neighborhood include Craftsman Bungalows, Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, Ranch, simple cottages, and one or two examples each of the Spanish Colonial Revival, Foursquare, late Queen Anne, Dutch Colonial Revival, Italian Renaissance Revival, Shingle, Spanish Eclectic, and I-house.
The oldest house in Druid Hills is the Leander Justice House (419 Higate Road, ca. 1910s), which pre-dates the development of the neighborhood and is notable for being the only example of an I-house. Also of note within the Druid Hills neighborhood is the abundance of fine examples of the Tudor Revival style, used here more than in other neighborhoods dating from a similar period of significance. Some of these include the Cebrun D. Weeks House (115 Clairmont Drive, ca. 1925), with a steep hip roof, casement windows, and patio which wraps around the house; the G. Florence Boyle House (1723 Meadowbrook Terrace, by 1926,) with its sweeping roofline; the Kenneth Katzenmoyer House (1629 Kensington Road, by 1926) with its steeply pitched roofline, arched doorway, and casement windows; and the Horace B. Bryant House (1630 Kensington Road, by 1926) with a steeply pitched clipped gable roof, and a garage with a matching roofline. Good examples of the Craftsman Bungalow style include the Claude M. Ogle House (1641 Druid Hills Avenue, 1925), displaying elements of both the Bungalow and Classical Revival styles; the James T. Fain House (1721 Clairmont Drive, ca. 1925) with unusual eyebrow dormers; the Charles L. Johnson House (1629 Druid Hills Avenue, by 1926) with an unusual arched brick entry; the Henry G. Ranson House (1616 Norwood Place, by 1926) with a large front-gable dormer and an engaged porch; and the Susan P. Shepherd House (1711 Clairmont Drive, by 1926) with a cross-gable roof and a full-width attached porch with fluted square posts. The Thomas Shepherd House (1620 Norwood Place, by 1926) is an excellent example of the Colonial Revival style, with German siding, entry portico, and nine-over-one windows. The Leslie K. Singley House (1649 Kensington Road, by 1926) is a fine example of a Spanish Colonial Revival house which retains its original tile roof. The Italian Renaissance Revival John Forest House (1609 Druid Hills Avenue, 1926) is one of the most elaborate houses in the neighborhood with a steeply pitched hip roof and wide eaves, decorative roof brackets, casement windows, and one-story wings flanking both sides of the house. The Spanish Eclectic Crawford A. Smith House (121 Clairmont Drive, by 1926) is one of the most unusual houses in the neighborhood, complete with a parapet roof, rough-textured stucco walls, and arched doorways. A good example of a house built in the latter part of the development of the neighborhood is the Clara G. Scott House (1524 Druid Hills Avenue, ca. 1943), an asbestos-sided precursor to the later Ranch style developments of the 1950s.
Druid Hills is significant as one of the few 1920s planned suburban communities in Hendersonville that developed into a thriving community. While many neighborhoods were platted in the 1910s and 1920s all over Hendersonville and Henderson County, few of them developed after the economic bust which began in 1926. The Druid Hills neighborhood was also designed with a curvilinear street pattern by a prominent landscape architect, Earle Sumner Draper, making it unique in comparison to many neighborhoods which still continued to utilize a typical grid pattern. The first section of Druid Hills was platted on July 10, 1923. Sections to the east, west and north were laid out in 1925. Most of the homes in Druid Hills were built by 1926, with the majority of the development occurring by 1945. Later homes date primarily from the late 1940s through the 1950s. The neighborhood exists today as a highly intact example of a planned residential community in Hendersonville in the early part of the twentieth century, exhibiting examples of landscape design and architectural styles which were popular at the time. The Druid Hills Historic District is significant for architecture and landscape architecture and also for its contribution to community planning and development.
Historic Background and Community Planning and Development
Druid Hills was developed by the Hendersonville Real Estate Company beginning in 1923, during the peak development years of Hendersonville's frenzied real estate boom and residential construction time. Later sections were developed beginning in 1925. One of these areas, to the east, was located across U.S. Highway 25 N. and was known as the "East Park" section. A "Business Section" was laid out in 1926, just north of the "East Park" portion. A portion of the northern half of Druid Hills, originally laid out as a park, was re-platted in 1926 between Meadowbrook and Terrace Roads. "Greater Druid Hills," the northernmost section of the development, was designed by landscape architect Earle Sumner Draper and platted by civil engineer Wilbur W. Smith, in much of the same curvilinear style as the original sections, making it highly likely that Draper designed the original section as well.
Preston L. Wright was president of the Hendersonville Real Estate Company and J.S. Dudley was vice-president. Mrs. Louise B. Wright, wife of Preston, was secretary. While the company developed and sold some smaller areas around Hendersonville, Druid Hills was their largest development project. Some of the land for the Druid Hills neighborhood was originally part of the Leander Justice farm. The Leander Justice farmhouse (419 Higate Road) still stands in the neighborhood, an I-house which pre-dates all other development.
The first plat for the Druid Hills neighborhood dates from July 10, 1923. It originally included a land area bordered by Ashewood Road (now Ashwood Road) on the south, the Dixie Highway on the east (now U.S. Highway 25 N.), Chelsea Street to the north of the district area, and Ridgewood Boulevard on the west. The streets were laid out in a curvilinear fashion, with a triangular park bordered by Druid Hills Avenue, Kimberly Avenue, and Park Place (now Norwood Place). Many of the intersections were triangular so as to minimize the introduction of sharp angles into the overall curvilinear design. A large area north of Meadowbrook Terrace was designed as a large park with many pathways, an amphitheater, and a tennis court. Later extensions were made to this original plat, with the "Ridgewood Section" being developed to the east and platted May 9, 1925. This layout continued the curvilinear street pattern typical of Draper's work. In June 1925 the "Arlington Extension" (located north of the original platted area), was laid out, including a lake called Lake Somerset.
On July 11, 1925, the "East Park Section" of the neighborhood was platted. This was located to the east, across the Dixie Highway. The entrance included a circular area with a tennis court in the middle and curvilinear streets. All of the plats from 1923 to 1925 were surveyed and mapped by George Kershaw, a civil engineer in Hendersonville. On May 6, 1926 a plat was made for the "Business Section" of Druid Hills, also located across the Dixie Highway, adjacent to the "East Park Section." The civil engineer for this plat was Wilbur W. Smith, with offices in Hendersonville and Charlotte, North Carolina. He noted that it was re-staked from plans by George Kershaw. On July 16, 1926 a plat was made for a portion of the neighborhood not previously developed at the intersection of the Mills River Highway (now Haywood Road) and Ridgewood Avenue. On July 24, 1926, Smith was also the civil engineer listed for a re-design of the northern part of the original Druid Hills neighborhood north of Meadowbrook Terrace. The park, which was laid out on the 1923 plat, was changed to individual house lots with what appears to be a linear green space down the middle. This too is noted as being from plans by George Kershaw. The change in civil engineers was significant because it is on the March 27, 1926 plat of "Greater Druid Hills," that Wilbur Smith is noted as the civil engineer and Earle Sumner Draper is noted as the landscape architect. The re-design continues the earlier design schemes of curvilinear streets and open park spaces. Even though Draper's name does not appear on the earliest plats for Druid Hills, the designs are too similar to not have been his work.
The period of greatest development in Druid Hills was from 1923 to 1926. Beginning as early as July 1923, advertisements began to appear in the Hendersonville Times-News promoting Druid Hills as "Hendersonville's Restricted Residential Suburb" and "A Suburban Village." According to the ads, the neighborhood included "...over a mile of paved streets, over a mile of sewers, over a mile of water mains, ornamental entrances, parks, tennis courts for exclusive use of residents, lights, and telephones..." Many lots were sold to families who intended to build homes there, but many were also sold to smaller investors who bought up several lots at a time for immediate re-sale or building of speculative houses. Early deeds from the Hendersonville Real Estate Company contained many restrictions, including a clause that no commercial, industrial, or tenement housing could be built, no hospitals or sanitariums were allowed, and that from July 1, 1923 through July 1, 1944, all lots must be used for residential or boarding house purposes. All properties were to be "...maintained in good condition and in general harmony with the surrounding property within said block; that they will not maintain, suffer or permit upon said land any unsanitary, offensive, or unsightly condition..." No residences were allowed to be built for a cost less than $4,000. Nothing could be built on any lots until plans and specifications were approved by the developer. Only one main residence could be built on a lot, but garages or servants quarters were allowed as extra structures. Lots could also not be subdivided in this twenty-one year time period, but had to be sold as they were bought. No property could be sold to "...a Negro or person of any degree of Negro blood, or any person of bad character..."
By 1926 there were approximately seventy-nine houses built, with thirty-two more planned. By 1937, there were seven houses on Druid Hills Avenue; five on Park Place (Norwood Place); eleven on Kensington Road; five on Meadowbrook Terrace; eleven on Clairmont Drive; six on Higate Road; and five on Ashwood Road. Some of the earliest residents in the neighborhood included A.C. Justice; Virginia Byrd, widow of Reuben A. Byrd; Alexander Levett; Robert G. Anders, Superintendent of Schools in Hendersonville; Richard Clark, a bank president; John Forest, a prominent local builder; William B. Wilson of Wilson Drug Company; Thomas Shepherd, owner of Shepherd Funeral Home; Edgar E. Lance; Cebrun D. Weeks, of Ewbank, Whitmore and Weeks; James T. Fain, editor of the Hendersonville Times-News; and Lillian B. Gulledge, widow of James Gulledge, a bank president. Some of these early owners continued to live in the neighborhood until the 1940s or later. However, many of them lost their homes in the early Depression years. Many homes were bought by later owners from banks and bonding companies in the late 1930s. Some of the residents beginning in the late 1930s included Leslie K. Singley, a high school principal; McAvoy Brittain, a salesman with Gulf Oil Corporation and wife Louise, a teacher; Julius O'Dell of Gosset Furniture Company; Dr. Robert E. Taylor, a veterinarian; Claude M. Ogle, managing editor of the Hendersonville Times-News; George S. McCullough; Edna Avery Jones, widow of Lamar R. Jones; Virginia W. Twyford, widow of Henry Twyford; William M. Gregg; Ella Ross, widow of Henry C. Ross; and Aiken P. Cox, manager of Becker's Bakery. By the late 1930s, Druid Hills was no longer advertised. Some additional houses were built on some of the undeveloped lots in the neighborhood after World War II, but these are few in number compared to the majority of the houses which were built in the 1920s. In 1968 Druid Hills became part of the city limits of Hendersonville.
Early Suburban Residential Context
The late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries in Hendersonville saw a tremendous boom for speculative residential real estate development. Once the railroad arrived, nationally popular building styles and the materials to construct them became more readily available. Local brick and sawmills became important commercial enterprises. As the population of both year-round and summer residents began to grow, the need for housing became a top priority and an opportunity for many entrepreneurial developers. As the automobile gained in popularity in the early twentieth century, this opened up additional opportunities for building homes further away from the core downtown area, creating true "suburbs." The west side of downtown was an area which developed early, with many farms subdivided to meet the growing need. O.E. Hedge developed the west side of town including Ehringhaus Street with many English Arts and Crafts style houses.
The platting and development of Druid Hills was no exception to this frenzy of speculative development. Hundreds of acres were subdivided in the city and immediately to the north of town. Often, the initial purchasers of the lots from the developers were not the builders of the houses, but smaller investors who bought lots for purposes of a quick re-sale. The goal for many was to "...sell at a profit before the next payment was due..." A few of these subdivisions developed as platted, but others, especially those that began in the late 1920s after the economic bust, often had only roads laid out, but no houses built until after World War II or later.
One of the earliest of these planned subdivisions was Oakland Park (1890) developed by Mayor V.L. Hyman, son of John Durante and Ellen Patton Hyman. The Columbia Park Land and Development Company, incorporated by H.S. Anderson, S.F. Wren, J.W. Streetman, and R.F. Burton developed Columbia Park (1907-08) which was planned as a large resort community. Some of it developed, but a large portion of the land was later turned into Lenox Park in 1942. (Columbia Park was contemporary with the development of Hyman Heights (1905), but was located to the southwest of the downtown area). Some of the other major subdivisions platted included Sunset Heights (1908); Hillside Park (1910); Wheeler Park (1910); Annex Park (1913); Kanuga Lake (1913); M.C. Toms Subdivision (1914); Lenox Park (1918); Dade-Olina Park (1923), attesting to the fact that Hendersonville was developed in large part by many Florida investors; Pine View Terrace (1923); Druid Hills (1923); Mount Royal (1923); Toms-Hill Park (1924); Laurel Park (1924-1927), one of the largest land developments to the west of downtown; Floralina (1925); Hollywoods (1925); Osceola Lake Park (1925); Forest Hills (1925); Chestnut Hill (1926); Laurel View (1926); Royal View Park (1926); Sunset Hills (1926); Laurel Heights (1926); Central Park (1926); and Greater Druid Hills (1926). By 1924, Hendersonville had eighty-nine real estate offices and 800 brokers. The 1926 population of the town was 10,000 with over 40,000 annual visitors. Due to the fact that many Florida investors owned property in Hendersonville, coupled with the fact that Florida began to see a major economic decline beginning in 1925, the speculative development and economy in Hendersonville also began a rapid decline beginning in 1926. Wholesale land development stopped through most of the 1930s. An exception to this, in 1933, was the development of the Hendersonville Country Club and golf course on land that originally had been part of the Laurel Park subdivision. Subdivisions were again platted after World War II, when the town experienced a small building boom. Subdivisions were developed on into the 1950s and 1960s, but never again did the number of subdivisions exceed what was happening in Hendersonville in the first two decades of the twentieth century.
Of the plats examined in courthouse records, it appears that the original section of Druid Hills (1923) was one of two suburban Hendersonville neighborhoods that were platted and primarily developed in the 1920s. Only Mount Royal (1923), located to the east, across Highway 25, appears to have reached the same level of development, with the majority of homes built in the 1920s. Hyman Heights, located south and east of Mount Royal, was platted in 1905 but experienced one of its largest periods of growth in the 1920s, as did the neighborhood west of downtown Hendersonville. Other neighborhoods from the same time period, including Dade-Olina Park (1923); Pine View Terrace (1923); Floralina (1925); Hollywoods (1925); Forest Hills (1925); Chestnut Hill (1926); Laurel View (1926); Royal View Park (1926); Central Park (1926); and Sunset Hills (1926) apparently never developed. Toms-Hill Park Development (1924), located southwest of downtown Hendersonville; Osceola Lake Park (1925), southwest of Druid Hills off Kanuga Road; and Laurel Park (1924), all had many of the roads constructed as shown on their plats, but only a handful of houses built from the 1920s. Most of the building of homes in these neighborhoods did not occur until the 1960s or later. Only Laurel Heights (1926), south of downtown, off the east side of Highway 25 south, experienced some development of simple bungalows dating from the 1920s to the 1930s.
Architecture and Landscape Architecture Context
Earle Sumner Draper worked primarily in Charlotte, North Carolina during the boom years of the 1910s to the 1920s. He and noted city planner John Nolen broke the grid layout plan of neighborhoods typical up to this point and began designing in the "Olmstedian" style of curvilinear, tree-lined streets that followed the natural terrain, and open green spaces. Draper graduated from the landscape architecture program at the University of Massachusetts in 1915 and began work for John Nolen's firm. Draper arrived in Charlotte in 1915, as a field supervisor for the new Myers Park neighborhood designed by Nolen. In 1917 Draper started his own practice in Charlotte, possibly being the first trained landscape architect to practice in the southeastern United States. Draper worked in Charlotte and other parts of the South from 1917 to 1933. In the 1920s he had branch offices in Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and New York City. He planned over a hundred suburban neighborhoods, with many of his commissions coming after developers visited him in Charlotte to see Myers Park and then hired him to create similar schemes. Draper also designed over 150 mill villages, including Sayles Village in Asheville, as the textile industry grew in the South in the late 1910s and 1920s. In 1933, Draper began work as head of planning for the Tennessee Valley Authority. He left Charlotte permanently at this time, leaving his assistant Harold Burdsley with the Charlotte practice.
Draper's work in the design and layout of all of the sections of Druid Hills make this neighborhood one of a handful of suburban developments around Hendersonville which can be characterized by the use of curvilinear street patterns, canopies of trees, open green spaces, and large lots. Most developments platted in Hendersonville, whether they materialized or not, continued to utilize a grid layout which had been so common up until this time. Mount Royal appears to have been laid out by Draper as well, or at least closely follows his landscape design style. Laurel Park, west of downtown Hendersonville, also followed this curving street pattern.
Architecturally, Druid Hills contains one of the most varied assemblages of buildings of the suburban developments examined. While many homes built there are simple bungalows, there are many fine examples of the Tudor Revival, Italian Renaissance Revival, Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and I-house styles. Mount Royal houses, in contrast, consist mostly of simple bungalows, with a few examples of less elaborate Tudor Revival and Classical Revival style buildings. Hyman Heights' houses include a large grouping of Craftsman Bungalows, with some examples of Colonial Revival, Foursquare, Shingle, Georgian Revival, and Neoclassical Revival. The Gothic Revival Killarney House (ca. 1858) in Hyman Heights is an outstanding example of a home which pre-dates the development of the neighborhood. Homes located along streets west of and adjacent to downtown Hendersonville include representatives of Bungalow, Colonial Revival, and Foursquare styles. All of these neighborhoods, as suburban developments which made use of the automobile, contain a large number of garages, some of which are architecturally similar to the main houses.
Aguar, Charles. Former professor of landscape architecture at the University of Georgia and biographer of the work of Earle Sumner Draper. Interview by Sybil A. Bowers, 21 September 1999.
Henderson County Plat Books.
Henderson County Deed Books.
Henderson County Deed of Trust Books.
Hendersonville city directories 1926, 1937-1949.
Hendersonville Times-News. Various advertisements for Druid Hills. July 1923.
Keith, Donald B. (Longtime resident of Druid Hills). Interview by Sybil A. Bowers, 20 September 1999
Mattson, Alexander and Associates, Inc., "History and Architecture of Hendersonville, North Carolina," Essay accompanying Hendersonville survey. December 16, 1996. Western office Archives & History files.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Company maps 1926 and 1954.A
Shepherd, Ruth, Katherine, and Louise. (Longtime residents of Druid Hills). Interview by Sybil A. Bowers, 10 September 1999.
† Sybil Argintar Bowers, Bowers Southeastern Preservation, Druid Hills Historic District, Henderson County, North Carolina, nomination document, 2000, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.