Leafmore-Creek Park Hills
Civic Association

History Of Leafmore-Creek Park Hills

Difficult as it is to believe today, with multi-lane roads, large housing developments, and shops of every description nearby, the area now known as Leafmore-Creek Park Hills was once "out in the country" where one could see dairy cows and Indian trails, but few houses. Clairmont Road was part of an Indian trail which continued down Oak Grove and Shallowford Roads.


When DeKalb County was created from part of Henry County in 1822, land was sold for 10 cents per acre. A year later, Decatur was named the county seat; thirty years later Fulton County was carved out of DeKalb County because Decatur residents did not want any part of a railroad terminal. The Seaboard Railroad was built in the 1850's. There were small crop farms in the area along with much dairy farming. At one time, DeKalb County led the state in dairying and, in fact, was one of the leading dairying counties in the nation.

Nalley's Farm, one of many in the area with dairy cattle and horses, occupied what is now Nalley Circle and the Winston Place condominiums. The African-American community centered around the Mt. Zion AME Church on LaVista was founded by freed slaves given land by their former owners. Some of this land was sold to construct the Breckenridge subdivision and other developments, but much remains owned by the descendants of the freed slaves. Oak Grove United Methodist Church was one of the first churches in the area, organized in 1836 as part of a circuit rider's route.

Leafmore-Creek Park Hills Begins

By 1950, Atlanta had expanded eastward to meet Decatur, which was becoming a prestigious suburb. At that time, the first houses on Pinellas Trail were built. An old Civil War-era house was the only house in the Spring Creek area at that time, and only about two dozen houses existed in about two square miles. Trailmark Road and Mark Lane were old country lanes. There were few stores: a country store complete with a single gas pump, pot-bellied stove and rocking chair was located at North Druid Hills Road and LaVista Road, and another country store occupied the present Pro Cleaners site at Oak Grove and LaVista. W.D. Thompson Elementary School, located where the A&P now stands, had a strong reputation for proper education and was the LCPH Civic Association's meeting place for years.

Leafmore-Creek Park Hills began in 1952, with the construction of a house on Spring Creek Road by Harry Dewar, one of the early developers and landowners. The Naylor family built the second house, on Trailmark, and development continued down Leafmore. For several years, Leafmore Drive ended at Oak Grove and Tanglewood Road was much much shorter.

Woodleaf Lane was cut through to allow development of Woodleaf and Montevallo Circle, and houses were built on Vista Leaf in the early 1960s. Before River Oak was developed, horses were stabled near the railroad tracks, bream swam in Burnt Fork Creek, and dewberries grew near the tracks. The expansion of the subdivision to the present, ending with the River Oak development, was essentially completed in 1965.

In earlier days, the community was full of young families, a cycle which is beginning to repeat itself. One resident recalls that in 1957 there were 55 children living on Knollwood Terrace (in 31 families)! Everyone was new back then, and special events were planned to help people get acquainted, including occasional street dances. (Knollwood was blocked off between Tanglewood and Leafmore for a block party for all).

Garden Clubs, Civic Association Beautify Neighborhood

In earlier years the neighborhood had four active garden clubs: Azalea Circle, Creek Park Hills, Leafmore Hills and Spring Creek Garden Clubs. The individual clubs had their own meetings, projects and contests, but met jointly twice a year. In 1956, the Civic Association bought a railroad boxcar load of dogwood trees; each garden club member took 10 trees to plant in her yard, giving us the beautiful legacy of dogwood blossoms we enjoy today, particularly on the drive down Leafmore.

The triangle at Trailmark and Leafmore was planted with azaleas and other shrubbery by the garden clubs, and for many years a Christmas tree was brought in for the holidays to be decorated with Christmas lights and to serve as a gathering place for Christmas caroling. There was a pine tree in the triangle to serve as a permanent "great tree", but as it grew, the decorating became too difficult and that tradition was abandoned.

About 1965, the garden club hosted a contest during the Christmas season to award prizes to the home with the most beautiful door decorations. Many beautiful and original doors brightened the homes throughout our neighborhood during the holiday season.

The Civic Association and the garden clubs worked together to build and landscape the two entrances to the neighborhood. Mailbox nameplates were sold to fund this project, and an architect in the neighborhood donated his design services. Originally, the entrance at Clairmont included a brick facade in an island on Trailmark, but it was damaged so often by wayward buses and vandals that it was torn down.

Club and Clubhouse

In 1960, community leaders envisioned a neighborhood club and pool, and began researching ways to fund such a project and looking for suitable sites. The community tapped its talents in law, banking, business, engineering and real estate to make this vision a reality. The Thurman family home, originally resting on 18 acres and on the outskirts of the community at that time, became today's clubhouse.

The front of the present clubhouse was actually the back of the Thurman house, which faced LaVista Drive. The original garage was torn down and the meeting room added in the mid 1960s. The Civic Association Board and members had to back up the original bank loan with personal funds in the amount of $400-600 per family, a lot of money at that time. At least 140 memberships were needed to obtain a construction loan for the pool and a special initiation fee of $25 was offered for one month to lure members. The community responded enthusiastically and opened the pool in June 1961 with approximately 400 member families. Tennis courts were added a few years later in the field where softball had been the favorite sport. The Leafmore-Creek Park Club, Inc. was organized to maintain these facilities.

Santa's tradition of riding through the neighborhood the Sunday before Christmas began in the early 1960s, with Santa originally favoring a ride atop a convertible on his way to hear childrens' wishes at the annual party at the clubhouse. Santa now arrives atop a DeKalb County fire engine.

Community Expansion

In 1956 Toco Hill shopping center opened, and Clairmont Hills Baptist Church was established. The Centers for Disease Control moved to its Clifton Road headquarters in 1960. The Veterans Administration Hospital on Clairmont opened in 1966, and Emory University continued to expand.

The neighborhood has held its own while the surrounding area has expanded beyond our ancestors' wildest imagination, but sometimes not without significant effort, a task which continues today. The county had planned to extend Vista Leaf Drive to connect with LaVista Road and Willivee Drive, which would have changed Vista Leaf into a major thoroughfare cutting through the neighborhood. Civic Association members persuaded the county to use the funds instead to elevate North Druid Hills Road over the railroad tracks, in part because a well-known surgeon was killed at the train crossing on North Druid Hills Road. Recent additions to the neighborhood were the development of the River Oak Drive extension in 1989 and Williamswood Pointe in 1991.

Although Leafmore-Creek Park Hills has changed from an outlying community to a close-in one, neighborhood spirit thrives as we continue to create our history for future generations.

Editor's Note

We are grateful to the following long-time residents who shared with us their recollections: Honor Berry, Carlos Bradford, George Bush, Beth and Bob Holley, Judy Knight, Charlotte McGuire, John Meek, Donna Nash, Donald Naylor, and George and Evelyn Schmeelk. We welcome your corrections or additions! Please submit these in writing to the President or one of the other Civic Association officers.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software