I chose a great time to walk along St. Charles Avenue for this installment of Street of the Week. It was in the early evening, just as people were beginning to relax after the work day. There was quite a bit of buzz for a Wednesday: joggers were out, children and dogs were being walked (no really, I saw a kid on a leash), and neighbors were strolling up to North Highland and Ponce de Leon Avenues for dinner. A few homes in the process of renovation smelled of saw dust and paint, while others that haven't seen a hammer in decades permeated the air with a wonderfully distinctive scent I can only describe as "old house."
The sale of the Medlock family farm in 1890 sparked the creation of the western end of St. Charles Avenue in what's now Midtown. Residential development funded in part by Coca Cola money (courtesy of Asa Candler) began soon thereafter, and by 1910 the street was filled with the large, heart pine residences we admire today. Construction of housing on the Virginia Highland side started a bit later. The tiny Atkins Park development, which forms the eastern terminus of the street, broke ground in 1912 and was largely complete by 1918.
St. Charles Avenue is one of three streets that start in Midtown and end in Virginia Highland (the others being Greenwood and Virginia Avenues). Its path is interrupted, however, by the gargantuan Midtown Place shopping center. The appearance of the Whole Foods-anchored strip in the early 2000s didn't really change much. The site's always been a bit of the exception to the rule when it comes to the area's planning; before sprouting commercial development, it was a valley formed by Clear Creek, then a late 19th century amusement park lake, and finally the site of the Atlanta Crackers baseball stadium.
In addition to single-family homes, some modest apartment buildings were also constructed on the street. A particularly beautiful example is "The Saint Charles," which puts most modern apartment complexes to shame with its carefully planned siting and architectural detailing. It's the kind of setting where you can imagine the 1920s Atlanta version of "Melrose Place" occurred.
The Midtown end of the street, off Monroe Drive, is filled with late Victorian styled homes. A few of them sport turrets that now seem like an unusual feature this far from Inman Park.
The Virginia Highland leg of St. Charles Avenue reflects its later development date, with Arts and Crafts bungalows taking center stage. The porches common along this street are classically Southern, while the relaxed urban vibe is pure Atlanta.