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A Tale of Two Houses

A Tale of Two Houses

Historic Druid Hills Home and Garden Tour

TWO OF THE NINE HOME featured on this year’s Historic Druid Hills Home and Garden Tour were renovated by the same architect, Karen Soorikian, and the same builder, Tim Salomon. We sat down with both to learn about their work and about this year’s tour, taking place April 26-28.

The home at 794 Springdale Road is within the Atlanta city limits, while 1202 Springdale is in unincorporated DeKalb. As such, they are governed by two different historic district commissions and planning offices. Karen and Tim discussed how to approach the different municipalities, and they both agreed that the same tactic is wisest for both: Do your home – work ahead of time, so you can craft a project that is right for the neighborhood.

A Tale of Two Houses

For work in DeKalb, Tim finds it most helpful to meet with the Historic Preserva – tion Commission staff ahead of planning. Karen has been doing a lot of work inside the city limits and appreciates the help of the Civic Association’s Landmark District Preser – vation Committee. Your author is the chair of that committee and is always happy to see a Soorikian Architecture project because it will be a well-designed plan appropriate for the district.

The understated stylish elegance of Boxwood

A Tale of Two Houses

“Boxwood” is a 6,500 square-foot Colonial Revival at 794 Springdale Road built in 1914. Architect Edward Emmett Dougherty trained at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts, the leading school of architecture in the world at the time. The house was built for Mr. and Mrs. Charles “Veazey” and “Hattie” Rainwa – ter and their four boys. Boxwood originally featured three acres of gardens, bridle paths, a grandstand for the boys’ own horse shows and the “Boys’ House,” a charming, rustic building for the children with its own tiny front yard and picket fence.

The estate was included in the 1933 book Garden History of Georgia, 1733-1933, edited by Hattie Rainwater and published by The Peachtree Garden Club. Houses of this vintage never have big kitchens, and Karen’s work often involves redesigning to create one. “This kitchen was small and located on the back corner of the house, so it was fun expanding the space and connect – ing it to the fancy original rooms and rear garden,” she said.

A Tale of Two Houses

The place where the house’s back wall once stood is now an open kitchen and gathering area connected by French doors to a new din ing terrace outside. “To make Karen’s vision of the kitchen work, the structural engineer specified a 24-foot long, 18-inch deep steel beam,” Tim recalled.

An imposing mansion with grand details

Just a mile north of Boxwood is 1202 Spring dale Road. It is a 5,500-square-foot red brick home that makes a very grand impression with its French-style tall roof, flared at the eaves with ornate details. Karen describes it as “the coolest house because of the elliptical foyer you walk into from the entrance on the side.”

A Tale of Two Houses

Built in 1923 by architect Owen James Southwell, its marble columns and wrought iron details were salvaged from the original governor’s mansion on Peachtree Street, and it boasts multiple original chandeliers, mirrors and ornate plasterwork. Karen and Tim’s work again involved expanding the back corner of the house to create a larger kitchen and open common area. They both recalled the only delay with the project was getting a variance approved because the expanded corner extended a bit over the prescribed side yard setback line. It took six months to process because Covid had hit.

Regarding any advice for homeowners in the historic district thinking of renovating their homes, Tim said he would “remind them that the exterior is covered by historic district regulations, but the interior is not.” In Karen’s experience, the oversight process doesn’t severely limit the possibilities. “And it really does keep the neighborhood character intact in a very nice way. Druid Hills is such an attractive neighborhood because it has remained true to its historic roots,” she added.

Karen Soorikian is a resident of Decatur and has been practicing architecture since 1994. She got her start with the notable firm of Surber Barber, learning at Gene Surber’s elbow. Karen’s current focus is on bringing to reality the publication of The Mindful Mouse, a children’s book her daughter was working on before her untimely death. Visit soorikianarchitecture.com, or call 404-723-0927.

Tim Salomon is a resident of Lake Claire and has been renovating Atlanta’s in-town homes since 1998 with his company, Castles & Cottages, Inc. He is committed to helping people realize the full potential of their homes. Visit castlescottages.com, or call 678-592-1067.

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