Spotlight: Merl Reed
In the living room of the house on North Decatur Road where Merl Reed has lived since 1967, the traffic is inaudible. The quiet is due, in large part, to the growth of two magnolia trees that he planted in the front yard 47 years ago. “And storm windows,” he adds.
A former president of the Druid Hills Civic Association who grew up on a farm in upstate New York, Merl was most active in Druid Hills during his terms in 1984 and 1992. During these years, the neighborhood faced serious issues related to development, including the construction of an expressway in connection with the newly built Carter Center.
During the conflict over the “Presidential Parkway,” the DHCA, CAUTION [Citizens Against Unnecessary Thoroughfares in Older Neighborhoods], and other civic groups rallied to oppose a new highway that would have cut a broad swath through the Olmsted Linear Park. Their persistence exemplified the power of grassroots organization.
A professor emeritus at Georgia State University, where he specialized in labor, economic, and urban history, Merl and his wife, Gerry, have lived and taught in Baton Rouge, Denton and Corpus Christi, Texas, and Muncie, Indiana. Gerry retired as associate professor of American History at Georgia Tech.
Today, Merl reflects on how the story of Druid Hills fits into the larger field of urban history: “I am pretty certain that there is a Master’s thesis somewhere in there!”