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A Long View of Druid Hills

When Judy Yates moved to Druid Hills in 1976, she had nurtured an interest in historic preservation and the revival of declining neighborhoods for at least a decade. And in 2013, after busy years of intensive involvement in civic affairs – including three terms as DeKalb County Commissioner – Judy finally got around to joining the Druid Hills Home & Garden Tour Committee.  It has been a natural fit as she and Lynn Kerpel, a neighborhood resident for 49 years, have researched and written about the homes that will be featured on the Tour this year.

“My interest in building design, technique, and material started during my junior year in France,” she recounted recently. “I was intrigued by the European tradition of preservation whereas in the U.S. the inclination was to tear down and rebuild.” Upon graduating from college, Judy entered a four-year Master’s program in Environmental Design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Her work included creating a park and adapting 19th century buildings for 20th century use as offices and residences.

In the course of researching one of the 2014 Tour homes – 815 Oakdale Road – Judy telephoned the third owner of the house who shared her memories.  Someday, she hopes to record the recollections of longtime residents, several of whom she met when she first arrived in the neighborhood.

“‘Why is Druid Hills so pretty?’ – that’s a question I often ask myself,” she remarked over a cup of tea. “One of the reasons is that Frederick Law Olmsted worked with the contours of the land so that the roads narrow, dip, curve, and then disappear around the bend.”

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