Commission reaffirms exclusion of property from historic district

After a summer of uncertainty, it appears that Emory property once included in a proposed Druid Hills Historic District will not be included in that district after all.

In late June, the DeKalb County Commission approved the designation of a Druid Hills Historic District, the county's first such district. The approved district, however, did not include Emory property north of North Decatur Road that the Druid Hills Civic Association had originally wanted to be included in the district. The property in question includes campus property near Peavine Creek and Fraternity Row on the west side of campus; as well as the Haygood Triangle on the east side of campus, which encompasses the area bounded by Haygood Drive, North Decatur Road and Ridgewood Drive. Emory owns several parcels in the area, including the Burlington Road Building/Performing Arts Studio, which is zoned for office/institutional use.

Although Emory supports the designation of a Druid Hills Historic District for the residential area south of North Decatur Road, the University opposes inclusion of Emory property within the Haygood Triangle, primarily because virtually none of the structures in the area is historic in character and because it would be inappropriate to apply the residential orientation of the Druid Hills district's guidelines to an institution such as Emory.

As part of the University's Campus Master Planning efforts, Campus Planning and Construction staff are in the process of formulating guidelines for a campus historic district that would include the quadrangle buildings and Glenn Memorial Church, which are on the National Register of Historic Places. The guidelines will have an institutional orientation as opposed to a residential orientation.

The question of whether the Emory property should be included in the historic district was first addressed publicly by the newly formed DeKalb County Preservation Commission, which is charged with studying all proposals for designating historic districts and making recommendations on the proposals to the county commission, which makes the final decision. The Historic Preservation Committee voted in early June to recommend approval of the Druid Hills district, but without the Emory property in question.

At its meeting several weeks later, the county commission voted to approve designation of the district as amended by the Historic Preservation Commission. Following that vote, however, Commissioner Judy Yates made a motion that the Emory parcels removed from the district be sent back to the Historic Preservation Commission for further study. Yates expressed concern about the status of the Hardeman House, which has been called one of the oldest buildings in DeKalb County, and the Emory-owned Tufts House, which houses Campus Planning and Construction. Both structures lie within the Haygood Triangle.

In their response to the county commission's request for further study, the Historic Preservation Commission wrote that their initial findings had not changed and that they still believe that the Emory property should not be included in the historic district. At the county commission's Aug. 27 meeting, Yates said that she was pleased with the process by which the county's first historic district had been established.

--Dan Treadaway

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