The Evolution and History of Atlanta Home Designs

Jon Vaughan

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The city of Atlanta contains a deep well of history, and the homes and buildings still standing today help to tell stories of the past. There are a few historic homes in Atlanta that represent the evolution of the city’s home designs.

Here are some of our favorites that deserve some recognition. 

Post-Civil War Design

A Victorian style home known as the Wren’s Nest, which features details typical of the style, like shingle work, gabled windows and an asymmetrical facade. The home is primarily yellow with brown trim and red brick details.

Wikipedia – Joel Chandler Harris Page

Much of the city of Atlanta was destroyed during the Civil War, including most of the antebellum-style buildings in town. Years later, Atlantans rebuilt the houses while embracing new ideas and trends in home design.

Built in the late 1880s, the Wren’s Nest is one of the oldest homes in Atlanta and has been a tourist attraction for decades. The Nest is the former writer’s retreat and home of Joel Chandler Harris.

The Queen-Anne style Victorian home features an impressive amount of detail and more shingles than anyone can count. It showcases a few notable elements, including the asymmetrical facade, stunning gable features and an expansive, well-shaded front porch.

The Architecture of Atlanta’s Black History

The Herndon mansion in Atlanta features tall columns and a brick exterior, a Georgian Revival style home.

Wikipedia – Herndon Home Page

Adrienne McNeil Herndon designed her own family’s home in today’s Sweet Auburn Historic District. Her husband, Alonzo Herndon, was Atlanta’s first black millionaire, and he acted as the general contractor for construction of the mansion.

The Herndons both have impressive accolades: Adrienne taught at Emory University and was known for her career in theater. Alonzo Herndon established the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, one of the first that offered insurance services and aid to the Black community.

The Herndon home is now a National Historic Landmark. “One-story porches to each side of the building echo this theme in brick piers and wooden capitals. An elliptical fanlight over the main entrance and the balustrade above the full entablature of the building’s cornice add a distinctly Georgian Revival flavor to this imposing residence,” according to National Park Services.

Reminders of the Renaissance

The Swan House exterior is featured in the background, with a cascading fountain, flanked by two staircases, leading up to the home’s entrance.


You might recognize this Atlanta home from “The Hunger Games” films. The late 1920s saw a revival in Renaissance details, and the Italian and English elements of the Swan House are certainly film-worthy.

Built in 1928, the mansion was designed by architect Philip Schutze. “Reminiscent of great Italian gardens, it is perched on a hill with a cascading fountain, terraced lawns, roses tumbling over stone walls and clipped hedges,” according to the Atlanta History Center. “An intimate boxwood garden and formal motor court complete the landscape, making this one of Atlanta’s best-known and photographed sites.”

Stunning staircases, elaborate water features and a jaw-dropping facade all add to the majesty of this landmark, purchased by the Atlanta Historical Society in 1966.

Mid-Century Modern

The Copeland House in Atlanta is a home with a wood exterior, plenty of windows, and mid-century modern details inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Society of Architectural Historians

Frank Lloyd Wright’s style has influenced countless architects. One of his apprentices, Robert Green, brought Wright’s standards for design to Atlanta and used them to inspire construction of several beautiful homes in the area.

The Copeland House is one of his most notable designs, using organic elements and Wright’s inspiration to create a stunning example of mid-century modern design.

“The house remains unabashedly and wholly Wrightian: overhangs are prominent, the living room is open and organized around a central fireplace with its prominent masonry chimney and roof lines remain low,” writes Robert M. Craig for the Society of Architectural Historians.

Today’s Atlanta Home Design

Modern home with white exterior and windows of varying sizes. A woman wearing a blue dress is walking toward the home’s entrance, which is on the basement floor. Another woman is sitting in the home’s yard, reading.


Atlanta has always been a city that embraces new ideas and fresh concepts, especially when it comes to design. This modern home in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward brings contemporary style and innovation to the historic neighborhood.

“Crowned by a cluster of six gabled roofs, it’s one of just two homes in the U.S. made of cross-laminated timber—a strong layering of lumber pieces, glued together in alternating directions,” says Josh Green for Curbed.

The distinctively modern design of the home stands out from the city’s quaint, classic and sometimes cookie-cutter styles — a bold step towards the future of architecture in Atlanta.

Solutions for Atlanta Home Design

Atlanta home design stands out because of its progress — despite the Civil War and natural disasters, the city of Atlanta still has some of the most stunning and varied home designs in the entire state of Georgia.

No matter what style of home you’re after or type of materials you need, our team at Brand Vaughan Lumber is here to serve the Atlanta area with pride and the utmost respect. For more information on how our solutions experts can help bring your next home design to life, visit our website or contact us here.