The ranch home is finally getting a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t.
This ubiquitous housing type is now 50 years old, making it eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. In Georgia, and the Atlanta area in particular, homeowners are discovering the possibilities of these postwar pads.
Ranch homes in Georgia received renewed attention with the publication of “The Ranch House in Georgia: Guidelines for Evaluation.” The 2010 handbook, published by New South Associates, was the first in the nation that extensively addressed the evaluation of this post-WWII housing type. Also, buzz was created when a ranch neighborhood in the west side of Atlanta (Collier Heights) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places; the Northwoods subdivision in Doraville may also achieve this recognition.
Even though these homes can seem a dime a dozen, they were something of a revolution in their heyday. The postwar housing boom combined with the rise of the Sunbelt region made Georgia prime building ground for ranches. New and modern was the name of the game at that time, and these fit the bill perfectly. Seemingly endless land provided large lots for the horizontal nature of the architecture, and second stories were seen as unnecessary.
In the early 1960s, Atlanta became the first Southern city to surpass the 1,000,000 person mark. That growth period coincided with the height of the ranch craze, and it’s estimated that 175,000 ranches were built in Georgia between 1940 and 1960. All ranches are characterized by their low slung character, but there was actually a wide variety of style variations. You can find “Colonial” ranches, contemporary ranches, and even Polynesian inspired ranches. I’m picturing a Tiki bar a la Trader Vic’s in that last one.
These days, home buyers are usually attracted to ranches for three reasons: location, value and design. What was once considered suburban in Atlanta now qualifies for close-in, so many ranch neighborhoods can be found in relatively nearby proximity to Midtown and Buckhead. Dekalb County is chock full of this housing type, as it was the first area to receive Atlanta’s sprawl. They’re usually more affordable compared to older bungalows and Victorians, and much cheaper than new teardowns.
And while some people purchase them with the intent of drastic remodeling, others are content preserving their retro style while making some sympathetic alterations. They’re the perfect setting for trendy mid-century modern furniture. If this seems weird to you, consider that Inman Park’s coveted Queen Annes were once looked down on as hopelessly old fashioned and outdated. What’s old is always new again.
If I were to cover all of Atlanta’s ranch neighborhoods, I’d probably need to start a whole other blog. Instead, here’s a short list of where you can find affordable ranches (less than $300,000) in some of Atlanta’s most sought after locations.
- Lindridge/Martin Manor: Located directly south of I-85 at the eastern city limit of Atlanta
- Woodland Hills: south of Lavista Road and west of Briarcliff Road in Dekalb County
- Ashford Park: between Peachtree Road and Clairmont Road; sometimes called Bramblee due to its proximity to Brookhaven and Chamblee
- Lavista Park: north of Lavista Road and west of Briarcliff Road
- Drew Valley: south of Dresden Drive and west of Buford Highway
- Pine Hills: between Lenox Road and Briarcliff Road
- Sagamore Hills: east of Clairmont Road between Lavista and Briarcliff Roads
- Clairmont Heights: adjacent to Emory University, east of Clairmont Road and north of North Decatur Road
- Dunwoody Forest: between Ashford Dunwoody Road and Chamblee Dunwoody Road, south of I-285