By John Schaffner
My wife and I attended a wedding at the Capital City Club in Brookhaven on July 1. It was an afternoon wedding on a bright sunny day, which allowed us to take in the stately homes of the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood as we drove up to the stately country club facility.
I had been to the Capital City Club more than once but usually was covering events and was not able to take in the grandeur of the clubhouse and the surrounding neighborhood. This time I was a guest and could take it all in leisurely.
That neighborhood celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. There are signs of graceful aging but no signs of decay or failing health, either at the country club or in the neighborhood.
My wife asked questions about the clubhouse and about the neighborhood. I found myself at a loss to answer on the spot. That prompted me to go to the website of the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood Association, which has a nice history of the 100 years of development.
It dawned on me that maybe many of our readers don’t know the history of this neighborhood — half in Fulton County and half in DeKalb — and the country club around which it developed.
I decided to unabashedly lift information from www.historicbrookhaven.org and use it here in an edited fashion. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.
And I offer my thanks to the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood Association for making the information available.
Around 1900, prominent Atlantans started building summer cottages in Brookhaven. At the time, it was too far to Atlanta for a daily commute.
Real development of the area began in 1910, when a group of investors from the Mechanical and Manufacturers Club purchased the land making up what is today the Capital City Country Club property and lots immediately surrounding it for a development called Brookhaven Estates.
The golf course was incorporated in October of that year as the Brookhaven Country Club, and Herbert H. Barker, a golf pro from Garden City, Long Island, N.Y., was hired to design the course. A nine-hole course was laid out in 1911. (Barker also designed the Druid Hills Country Club’s course.)
The Brookhaven Country Club opened in 1912 as Atlanta’s second golf course, after East Lake, which opened in 1906. Both the Druid Hills course and the Ansley Golf Club in Atlanta opened the same year as the Brookhaven Club.
Brookhaven had the distinction of being the first community in Georgia — and probably in the Southeast — designed around a golf course from its start.
The Capital City Club, which began operations in Atlanta in 1883 as one of the oldest social clubs in the Southeast, leased the Brookhaven Country Club in 1913. When the Capital City Club purchased the Brookhaven Club in 1915, the golf course was expanded from nine to 18 holes. The clubhouse dates from 1928.
The Brookhaven Estates Co. continued to sell lots around the club through the 1920s. In 1915 there were four houses; by 1928, 19 houses surrounded the country club.
Development continued when lots along Club Drive and Stovall were offered for sale by Samuel Stovall. By 1928, eight houses had been built on those lots. Country Club Estates (Winall Down Road, most of Vermont and Stovall, Calvert Lane, and part of Narmore) was laid out in 1929. The Carleton Operating Co. land (Bellaire Drive) was platted in 1936.
Most homes in Country Club Estates and on the Carleton land were built during the Depression and before 1942.
Brookhaven’s homes include designs by a number of well-known Atlanta architects of this period, such as Hal Hentz (36 West Brookhaven), Neel Reid (983 Stovall), A.F.N. Everett, Cyril B. Smith, W.N.W. Griffin, Pringle and Smith, W. Montgomery Anderson, Henry D. Norris, and Edwards and Goodwyne. Preston Stevens designed the Capital City Clubhouse.
Now that I understand the history behind the Capital City Club and the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood surrounding it, I can drive through those winding streets, among the stately houses and well-groomed lawns, with a new appreciation.