Actual Factual Georgia: Belvedere Park has rural history

Q: After graduating from Emory last spring, a friend of mine and I purchased a house in Belvedere Park. The area is really great and we’ve even had another classmate buy just a couple of streets over. However, we don’t know anything about Belvedere Park’s history. Can you shed some light on the subject?

—Hunter Barlow, Belvedere Park

A: The names of the roads look strangely out of place for an area called Belvedere, just southeast of Decatur and that was once Georgia farmland.

Laguna, Catalina, Monterey, Pasadena.

You get the drift.

“I guess Avondale had taken Olde English,” Atlanta historian and author Jim Auchmutey wrote in an email.

He has firsthand knowledge of Belvedere Park, which is just off Memorial Drive and was one of those planned suburban communities that were popular in the 1950s.

But before the neighborhood, there was “farm and cattle land,” some of which was owned by Forrest Hill’s family.

The B.L. Wade Dairy was on Belvedere Lane, and Hill, who published a history of the area, wrote in an email that the “home place still stands and is currently for sale by the Wade family.”

“All the houses (on a part of Belvedere Lane) had back yards that backed up to my grandfather’s (Redmond Hill Sr.) farm, as far as San Gabriel Drive.”

Auchmutey’s parents moved there in 1953 and he grew up on Linda Drive. An ad from the time shows homes for sale between $11,000 and $14,800.

Stores followed the people, leading to Belvedere Plaza, which featured the first Rich’s outside Atlanta (the Lenox Square Rich’s already had opened), the Belvedere Restaurant and Belvedere Motel, which was popular enough to have its own postcards (Auchmutey has one, and they can also be found through Google searches).

“I played baseball at the Belvedere Little League, swam the individual medley for the Belvedere Swim Club team, saw movies at the Belvedere Theater, bought my first Beatles records at the Belvedere Plaza Rich’s,” Auchmutey wrote.

The Rich’s closed in 1986 and Belvedere Plaza is now home to many of the stores and businesses near the intersection of Memorial and Columbia drives.

“It occurs to me that the Belvedere name is much less used now,” Auchmutey wrote. “I know the neighborhood is still called Belvedere Park. But the theater and the swim club are long gone, as are the Belvedere Skating Rink and the Belvedere United Methodist Church and the Belvedere Motor Hotel. And the place where I used to play Little League has become Shoal Creek Park.”

Send me an email if you have memories of Belvedere Park or would like to know more about neighborhoods around the Atlanta area.

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