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Sunday, October 9, 2011


This brief history of Lullwater provides an overview of the forces that have helped to shape and reshape the unique assets and identity of the land; it was written as part of the Lullwater Comprehensive Management Plan for the preserve developed by the Joint Committee of the University Senate's Committee on the Environment and the President's Lullwater Task Force in meetings from May 2001 until October 2002.]

Broadly speaking, the earlier history of Lullwater mirrors its recent history––the ongoing superimposition of human constructions on the natural topography and vegetation.

The place called Lullwater passed through four stages in its history: Piedmont forest; hunting grounds for the Cherokee and Creek nations; site of farms, mills, and residences for European American settlers; and finally as a resource for Emory University, which has used it alternately to house the president, to sell for profit, to build on, and to preserve for recreation and education.

Traces of most of the earlier stages remain. Although most of the old-growth trees were cut, there are still vestiges of the Piedmont mixed pine and hardwood forest described in the 1986 Murdy-Carter Report. No traces of the Native American presence have been reported although signs of campsites have been found further downstream. The only trace of early European settlers within the original Lullwater property is the cemetery at the top of the hill on the Clairmont Campus. The cemetery belonged to land donated by Naman Hardman for a meeting house in the 1820s. Traces of Washington Jackson Houston’s grist mill (replacing a saw mill set up by Hardman) can be found just downstream of Lullwater. Walter Candler, who purchased the land in 1925, contributed the name Lullwater itself, the residence and its landscaped grounds, the dam and the artificial lake, and the development of the 44-acre University Apartments site that is now the location of Emory’s Clairmont Campus.

The main thrust of Emory’s stewardship since it acquired the land in 1958 has been sale or development of the land and maintenance of the residence and its grounds. Preservation of the remaining forest has been mostly a passive result of non-development. In the early 1960s, the northern section of Lullwater was given over to the new Yerkes National Primate Research Center and, later, 20 acres of the eastern section were sold to the U.S. government for construction of the Veterans Administration Medical Center. Two acts stimulated the production of the Murdy-Carter report in 1985 which called for the protection of the remaining land. These were the dredging of Candler Lake and the sale of five acres of land to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1999 Emory built a shuttle road along the southern edge of the property. In response to the outcry from the Emory community, President William M. Chace pledged that he would protect the land from further encroachment, and he created the Lullwater Management Task Force to fulfill that purpose.


1820s After taking the land from the Cherokee nation, settlers divided it into landlots that were distributed by lot. Peter Roadlander and William Pace were "winners" of the Lullwater area. Almost immediately they sold their lots to others. Naman Hardman bought two of the four lots that overlap current Lullwater boundaries and, in 1826, he deeded two acres for a meeting house which is marked by the site of a cemetery on the Clairmont campus. Hardman’s Church was destroyed by General Sherman in the Civil War (Sherman headquartered just a couple of blocks away on Clairmont Road while overseeing the Battle of Atlanta). (Sams 1998, p. 2; Rinard 1983, p.1. Sternberg 2003.)

1840 Dr. Chapman Powell (1798-1870) bought portions of the Lullwater land lots, but Hardman retained ownership of his sawmill located at the site of Houston’s grist mill. It was said that Powell offered his medical services to the Cherokees as well as to the settlers. (Sams 1998, p. 2-7)

1857 Powell purchased another 180 acres of land from Ezekiel Mason, which included the eastern edge of what became the Lullwater preserve. (Sams 1998, p. 10)

1863 James Oliver Powell (1826-1873), son of Chapman, bought the 180 acres from his father. (Sams 1998, p. 10)

1863 Washington Jackson Houston (1831-1911) bought 600 acres from Chapman Powell, his father-in-law. Houston farmed the land, ran the mill, and worked for Western & Atlantic railway as a transportation and freight agent. (Historical Marker Application 1995)

1922-25 Harry J. Carr leased then bought Houston property around the old Houston Mill (on both sides of Houston Mill Road). He renovated the mill house and built a home across the street [now the Houston Mill house]. ("Houston Mill." Box 71. DeKalb Historical Society Archives.)

1925-26 Walter T. Candler, son of Asa Candler (founder of Coca-Cola and donor in 1914 of the original 75 acres in Druid Hills to Emory), bought the remainder of Houston’s property (250 acres) and built "Lullwater Farms."

Candler’s main business was raising and racing horses. A "practice" track was located on the present site of the VA Medical Center. In 1951-2 Candler’s horse "Duke of Lullwater" was a winning harness racer. Candler also owned 41 head of Hereford cattle, hogs, and chickens. A cattle pasture surrounded the artificial lake (created in 1952). The stone gate dismantled in 2002 at the entrance to Williams Lane was the original estate entrance. Candler hunted possums in the woods of what is now the Clairmont Campus. (Suburban Gazette. November 12, 1958. Woodruff Library "Lullwater.")

Lullwater House was designed by architect Lewis E. Crook and constructed by his business partner Ernest D. Ivey in the style of 16th century English country estates. (Funderburk 1994) The house was built from stone quarried on the site; the hole was filled up to make a swimming pool. The dam and powerhouse on South Fork Peachtree Creek furnished electricity to the house in early years. Private waterworks pumped water from springs located next to the biology research pond. (Emory Alumnus, Nov. 1958, pp. 4 ff.; Platt 1970.)

According to a 1985 Emory Magazine article, "Ivey and Crook’s success with Lullwater led to their being named unofficial architects for Emory. From the 1920s to the 1950s, Crook designed some forty buildings" on the Emory campus, including the Candler Library, the Alumni Memorial University Center (now part of the Dobbs University Center), and the Administration Building. Crook also built the First Baptist Church of Decatur, Druid Hills High School, and the Alumni Hall of Emory University. (Thomas 1996)

In the 1920s Metropolitan Opera stars were frequent guests to the house. Barbecues were served in the clubhouse on the lake (site of VA Hospital), and there were sometimes boat races on the lake. At other times, guests would gather in the boxes surrounding the race track to watch horse races. On the Fourth of July fireworks were exploded over the lake. Each spring, the Candlers opened Lullwater Farms for an annual Easter egg hunt for the children of the Atlanta Child’s Home. (Gwin 1972, p. 2G. Woodruff Library, Candler Collection Folder 4.)

1926-62 Ernest Richardson served as the first Lullwater caretaker. ("He made Lullwater Bloom.")

1950 Candler sold 43.5 acres for the development of University Apartments (acquired by Emory in 1986; now site of Clairmont Campus). (Hauk 1999, p. 87.) L. H. Fitzpatrick, C.E., mapped Candler property. Candler in March 1958 told Emory that this survey was still accurate, and a copy was given to Emory. (Letter 1958.)

1952 The lake in its present form was created by diverting the creek upstream of the dam into its present channel and by dredging the original creek basin. (Platt 1970)

1958 Emory purchased the remaining 183 acres of the Candler estate. The Emory’s Board of Trustees Chairman said that the property gave Emory "stretching room" for university growth. It was speculated that the house might be used as the president’s house or it might be "razed," and/or that a large part might be left undeveloped for athletic fields and other activities. (Wheel. Oct. 16, 1958.) More than half the property was described as "virgin woods," chiefly white oaks and poplars. (Emory Alumnus, Nov. 1958, pp. 4 ff.) Emory sold a 100-acre tract north of Peachtree Creek on Houston Mill Road to help pay for the Candler estate. 127 acres of the estate lay south of Peachtree Creek. It was speculated that the remaining 58 acres north of Peachtree Creek might be sold for business purposes. ("A Report …" 1960.)

In the same year Dr. Robert Platt created a Radiation Research Field Station on the southeastern side. Radioactive materials were placed in a shaft to study their effects on native plants and animals. (See Platt 1964 and Emory Alumnus, Feb. 1959, p. 17. For an example, see Franklin McCormick's 1962 thesis Effects of ionizing radiation on a natural plant community. There is a photo on Plate III.)

Emory President S. Walter Martin "preferred not to live in the new official residence of the Emory president, believing it to be too isolated." For part of the time it served as a dormitory for researchers from the School of Business. (Hauk 1999. p. 117.)

By 1960, Lullwater’s future development and use had not been decided and members of the Emory community asked for recreational access. (Wheel. April 28, 1960)

1961 Official names were given to the house and lake––Lullwater House and Lullwater Lake (the latter’s name eventually was changed to Candler Lake. Woodruff Library, Candler Collection Folder 4)

1962 The Biology department established a 20-acre Biological Field Station on the property––one section in the area between the lake and creek now dominated by privet and one section around the Biology Research Pond. (Emory Magazine, 1962.) An old cabin was refurbished to serve as a laboratory on a knoll above the pond and a micrometeorological tower was erected at each site to study bugs and air at different heights. (Platt 1970) The towers fell into disuse and were pulled down (but not removed) in the early 1990s after high school students were discovered in the towers. (Prof. Don Shure, Committee on the Environment field trip to Lullwater, 2002)

Plans were made to locate the Yerkes National Primate Research Center on 26 acres, partly on Lullwater property and the rest on what used to be the Harry J. Carr property on the area now known as Harwood forest. (Myers 1963)

1963 Newly appointed 16th University President Sanford Saverhill Atwood became the first president to occupy Lullwater House. (Thomas 1996)

25.98 acres were sold to the U.S. government for the Veterans Administration Hospital (later medical center); the building was dedicated in 1967. (Woodruff Library, Topographical Map 1963.)

The first set of ground rules for use of Lullwater by Emory faculty, staff, and students was published. (Woodruff Library, "Lullwater")

Yerkes moved into its new facilities. (Groundbreaking 1964)

1966 Three monkeys of the Macaca Mulatta species lived on the island in Candler Lake for a few months. Bryan W. Robinson, M.D. put them there because the island was said to approximate closely their natural habitat in India. "The experiment was not a 100% success because the monkeys did not stay on the island," he said. (Monkey 1966)

1970 Robert Platt and students in his ecology class published the first comprehensive report on Emory’s natural environment; there were frequent references to Lullwater. (Platt 1970)

1971 Motivated by the report, an Environmental Awareness Committee of the Student Government Association was created and students cleaned up South Fork Peachtree Creek at the dam. (Cleaning 1971)

1974 Chemistry Department buried chemicals in Lullwater when it moved from the humanities building to the chemistry building. (Burbanck 1995, Cropper 1974)

1977 James T. Laney became the second Emory president to occupy Lullwater House.

Alistair Cooke in a BBC broadcast "Letter from America" called Emory the "most beautiful campus in America" with "plunging hills and gardens and little lakes, all set off with towering trees"… "Visiting Emory was like walking into the Garden of Eden." (Woodruff Library, "Lullwater")

1986 Emory purchased the 44-acre University Apartments property that was originally part of Lullwater Farms (Hauk 1999, p. 203.) and sold five acres of Lullwater property on the other side of Peachtree Creek to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (Prof. Eloise Carter 2002).

Silt from a dredging of Candler Lake was dumped behind an artificial dam on the hill above. The dam eventually breached and large quantities of silt flowed back into the lake and the biology research pond. The sale of land to Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the dredging of Candler Lake led Professors William Murdy and Eloise Carter to produce their report that year on the "Status of Forested Land of Emory University," and others proposed formation of a University Senate Committee on the Environment. (Prof. Don Shure, Committee on the Environment field trip, 2002. Prof. Eloise Carter, 2002. Prof. William Murdy, email 11/2/02.)

1987 Publishers Clearinghouse used a photo of the Lullwater House in an advertisement without permission. Caption read "Enter Today––Win it All." (Atlanta Journal. Dec. 30, 1987. pp. 1A, 7A. and Dec. 31, 1987. See Woodruff Library "Lullwater")

1990 Prof. William Burbanck, retired, reported to a faculty environmental meeting that hazardous chemicals had been buried in Lullwater. (Burbanck 1995)

1994 William M. Chace became Emory’s president, the third to occupy Lullwater House. Renovation of Lullwater House begins. (Thomas 1996)

1994-97 Clean up of hazardous materials was undertaken at Lullwater. (Emory Wheel. Sept. 9, 1994, p. 5. "Clean up of Lullwater hazardous waste site planned" Emory Report Vol. 48. no. 13. November 27, 1995; Emory Report. Vol. 48, no. 21. Feb. 12, 1996. "Lullwater Soil Tested" Emory Report. Vol. 48, no. 21. Feb. 12, 1996. "Final phase of Lullwater clean-up begins." Emory Report. Vol. 48, no. 29. April 15, 1996. "Lullwater clean-up in progress." Emory Report. Vol. 48. No. 29. May 6, 1996. "Department of Natural Resources gives green light to unrestricted use of Lullwater toxic site" Emory Report. Vol. 49. No. 33. June 9, 1997.)

1990s Campus publications reported that Lullwater was the site of many recreational and fundraising events, especially foot races.

1996 A national tour of leading nature writers and poets included a nature walk in Lullwater. ("Forgotten Language Tour to feature readings, nature walk." (Emory Report. Apr. 8, 1996.)

1997 A jury indicted a suspect in sex crimes committed in Lullwater. (Emory Wheel. Feb. 17, 1997.) The university inaugurated a new master plan. Students cite Lullwater as one of their favorite "hang-out spots." (Emory Wheel. Feb. 18, 1997.)

Six court summonses were issued to individuals walking unleashed dogs in Lullwater. (Emory Wheel. Feb.21, 1997.)

1998-99 Campus planners propose a shuttle road in Lullwater. A public forum to discuss the road was held, and the issue was vigorously debated during meetings of the Students Government Association, Employee Council and University Senate committees. The road was approved and completed in fall 1999—it was built along the edge of Lullwater and its use restricted to alternative fueled vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. (See several articles and letters in Emory Wheel and Emory Report in 1998 and 1999. See also "Chace is determined to keep his promise not to build any more parking decks on campus." Atlanta Journal Constitution. Dekalb Extra; Pg. 01JA. Mar. 18, 1999)

2000 As an outgrowth of the debate over the construction of the shuttle road, now named Starvine Way, President Chace appointed the Lullwater Management Task Force Committee, charging the task force to: ensure Lullwater’s boundaries and prohibit further encroachment; review all proposals for recreational, educational and/or ecological use of the land; monitor access points; and explore opportunities to maintain and enhance Lullwater’s ecological balance through reforestation and landscaping projects. (Emory Report. Feb. 7, 2000; Apr. 3, 2000.)

2001 In response to a request by the VA Medical Center for Emory to build a bridge across Peachtree Creek, the Lullwater Management Task Force and the University Senate Committee on the Environment set up a joint committee to create a Comprehensive Management Plan for Lullwater that, among other benefits, would provide a framework for evaluating such proposals.

2002 "Rabid cat bites two in Lullwater Park."

Source: Internet