From left, Bobby Wolf, Chris Sanders and Bob Schneider in front of one of the neighborhood’s landscaped areas.
From left, Bobby Wolf, Chris Sanders and Bob Schneider in front of one of the neighborhood’s landscaped areas.

Nicole Ott moved from Austria to Garden Hills a year ago with her husband and son. They chose the Buckhead neighborhood sandwiched between Peachtree and Piedmont roads because of the tree-lined streets, walking trails and general genteel ambiance of this historic place.
On a recent sundrenched morning, she and her dog trainer, Karen Smalley, of Doggie Du Good, worked with the family dogs, Amy and Daisy, in a field next to the neighborhood pool.
“People are just so nice,” Ott said as she corralled Daisy back to working on “sit.”
It’s a sentiment shared by many in this quiet, affluent Atlanta enclave. Garden Hills is a  mix of early 20th century homes dating back to the 1920s, four parks, landscaped traffic islands and a neighborhood pool/recreation center – all close to shopping, restaurants, schools and churches.
There is a lot going on behind the scenes in Garden Hills, said Carl Sanders, who’s not related to the former governor of the same name. Sanders, a strategic consultant, is the former president of the civic association.
The group wants to improve the sidewalks, put stone paths in the parks, do more landscaping and improve lighting and security. But in the last four years, its work has been all about the pool. The 750-home community last year completed an $800,000 project to rehab the pool house and surrounding area.
According to a study by the Pool and Park Association, the Garden Hills pool attracts more than 500 patrons daily from May through September. The pool generated $357,200 in revenue in 2012.
The original pool house was built in 1979, according to the study. In 2011, pipes burst in the men’s bathroom and put the Pool and Park Association on the path to rebuilding the house.
The pool house and the pool are an important part of the neighborhood’s identity. Every year, teenagers from the neighborhood start their first summer jobs working there. They are affectionately known as the “pool rats” by the neighborhood.
The pool, however, is not the only attraction.
Squeals of laughter and running toddlers filled the pool’s playground on a recent morning. At a picnic table sat a group of women watching the children intently. Not residents, they said. Just nannies doing their jobs.
As she pushed her 2-month-old son in a swing at the playground, Jennifer Rogers said she and her husband were looking for a house in Garden Hills because of the close proximity to all the private schools.
Atlanta International School is located in the Garden Hills neighborhood. It is an IB World School serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Other Buckhead private schools include Christ the King, Pace Academy, Westminister, Peachtree Presbyterian Preschool and Atlanta Girls’ School.
The Rogers have looked at several different homes.
Diverse structures ranging from Georgian, Tudor and Spanish Revival to Craftsman in the older sections line the streets of wide, manicured lawns.
Garden Hills was developed beginning in 1925 by Phillips Campbell McDuffie, a prominent Atlanta lawyer. He formed the Garden Hills Corp. and advertised the area as “Beautiful Garden Hills.” The development was planned in three phases.
Today, the Garden Hills neighborhood comprises single-family homes plus some multi-family units on the streets near  commercial and institutional properties.
There is vacant commercial land around the neighborhood, but the civic association has a good working relationship with the owners, said Bob Schneider, a software consultant, and member of the civic association.
The nearby Garden Hills Cinema closed in 2006. There was talk of resurrecting it, but that ended in December 2013 when a fire gutted the Atlanta Bike shop and caused significant water and smoke damage to the other businesses in the Peachtree Road strip.
On March 16, the wrecking ball arrived to begin demolition. The only thing that remains at the corner of Peachtree and Rumson is the part of the strip that houses La Fonda and Fellini’s restaurants.
Schneider said his group is in contact with the owners about what might go there.
In addition to the Garden Hills Civic Association, the Garden Hills Garden Club is a service organization which maintains several community green spaces in the neighborhood.
The Garden Hills Neighborhood Foundation is a nonprofit that raises money to fund the Heart of Garden Hills project, which has long-term goals of establishing a signature look for the area near the pool.
“People are involved in this neighborhood,” Sanders said. “I feel at home before I even reach my house.”

Holly R. Price is a freelance writer based in metro Atlanta.