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Druid Hills Tour: A Resounding Success!

Tour Trolley

They came by cab, bicycle, trolley, and on foot – hundreds of tourgoers who filled neighborhood streets during the weekend of May 2-4 to visit homes, gardens, and an artist market at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center.

The tour was a record-breaker, grossing more than $70,000 according to DHCA treasurer Scott Storbeck.  The association will use the revenue to fund community organizations and initiatives and support the work of its committees, among other activities.

The large crowds enjoyed a perfect weekend of sunny, warm weather.  Some visitors to the gardens at 1209, 965, and 797 Springdale spent as much as an hour strolling around outside and chatting with the homeowners and docents about landscaping.

Neighbor Kirk Larson dons booties to enter a house on the Tour.

Neighbor Kirk Larson dons booties to enter a house on the Tour.

The weekend kicked off on Thursday night with a gala attended by more than 150 supporters held in the Indoor Courtyard of Callanwolde. Pianist Andrew Bonhaus created a lively background for neighborhood conviviality, noted hospitality co-chair Leslie Fight. Homeowners received original sketches of their homes by Druid Hills artist Rod Pittam, as has been a tradition for many years.

The next morning at 10, the first shift of what would be a cast of 275 docents took its place and the doors opened. At 1198 Oakdale, homeowner Kelley Godfrey cheered visitors who searched for her collection of elephants spread throughout the house. Later she watched bemusedly as several tourgoers peeked inside her refrigerator.

At 1209 Springdale, visitors were treated to homemade chocolate chip cookies of which homeowner Susan Muller baked 325 over the course of the weekend. Her husband Steve added a bit of Hollywood to his talk after a tourgoer recognized a portrait of the actor Ken Jeong who starred in the “Hangover” films (produced by Steve’s son, Scott).

Hard to Top

Tour goers walking up to 965 Springdale Road

Tour goers walking up to 965 Springdale Road

“I am proud to report that the 2014 Druid Hills Tour of Homes and Gardens was a tremendous success. We’re already looking forward to the 2015 tour, but this year’s tour will be long remembered and hard to top,” said Tour Chair Ryan Graham.

At 965 Springdale Road, homeowners Gloria and Jim Boone were thrilled when the previous owner of their home came through and recalled the stairwell cluttered with the toys and shoes of her three now-grown children.  She was thrilled to see the house reconstructed with important original features from the foundation up.

At 1236 Springdale Road, homeowner Claudia Keenan was summoned by a docent to speak with a tourgoer who recognized one of her grandfather’s paintings of Nantucket Harbor on the wall of a bedroom.

“Thank you to all the volunteers who worked to make this year’s Tour such a resounding success,” said DHCA president Justin Critz. “The beauty and charm of our neighborhood was on full display, and I know that tourgoers had a fantastic experience.”

The owners of 815 Oakdale Road, Katie and Sedgie Newsom, wrote in an email message:   “We were excited to help support the neighborhood. Everything was so organized – it made our experience as easy and stress-free as possible!”

The renovation of one of the featured homes, 1137 Briarcliff Road, was featured on HGTV earlier this year.  “As a young couple that recently moved to Druid Hills, it was very enjoyable to get to know our neighbors better,” owner Franklin Johnson remarked. “Being part of the tour has definitely gotten us more involved in the neighborhood and given us a sense of community. I think the event was great and am thankful for all the volunteers that made the tour possible.”

Months of Planning

Planning for the Tour started last August when Home Selection Chair Janet McNicholl sat down with her committee to discuss the houses of Druid Hills. Ultimately the Tour featured seven houses, along with the Charles H. Candler mansion at Callanwolde. The Artist Market returned after a one-year hiatus, located on the grounds of Callanwolde.

Emory Village also starred in the Tour with three bar talks by Frank Neely of Frank Neely Design Associates, Eric King and Holly Brooks of King Landscaping, and Larry Bosarge of Southern Outdoor Construction. These were held, respectively, at Slice & Pint, Saba, and Ink & Elm. The Moonlighters Jazz Band performed at the Emory Village Plaza on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.

The Lullwater Conservation Garden Plant Sale, featuring native azaleas and heirloom tomato plants, almost sold out the first day of the Tour.

Platinum sponsors were: Atlanta Jewish Times, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, Fight’s Feast, King Landscaping, Masterpiece Events, Tilting Windmill Landscape Design, Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, and the Decatur Package Store. Gold sponsors were: Natalie Gregory, Sharian Rug Cleaning & Sales, Paris & Associates Realty, Frank Neely Design Associates, and Slice & Pint Pizza / Brewery. Bronze sponsors were: Arborguard Tree Specialists, Rich Printing, Karafotias Realty, and Hart Landscape Architecture. Benefactors were: The Cook’s Warehouse / Sherlock’s Wine Merchants, Briarcliff Frame Shop, Moon Bros. Inc., Emory Village Flowers & Gifts, Magnan Power Architecture, Alliance to Improve Emory Village, Fifth Avenue Solutions, LLC, and Soorkikian Architecture.

Members of the 2014 Tour Committee were: Ryan Graham (chair), Lynn Alexander (hospitality), Phil Brane (interactive communications), Richard Burgess (house management), Becky Evans (Friends & Patrons), Leslie Fight (hospitality), Frances Finegan (scrapbook), Lisa Harper (publicity), Claudia Keenan (writer), Lynn Kerpel (docent notes), Steven Mathias (logistics), Jenny McGuigan (staffing), Janet McNicholl (home selection), Johnny Osborne (sponsorship), Tina Ann Price (group recruitment), Kelli Taylor (tickets), Cynthia Waterbury (sponsorship), Clarke Weeks (Artist Market), Yvette Weatherly (print distribution), Suzanne White (revenue), Thomas Winn (operations), and Judy Yates (docent notes).

The Tour Committee will reconvene on Wednesday, May 28 at noon at St. John’s Lutheran Church. If you would like to participate or would like your home to be considered for the 2015 Tour, please contact

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