When you drive south on I-75 from Atlanta, heading out of the city and into the sprawl, you’ll pass Southlake Mall on your right. This is “The Mall” of my childhood– destination for Christmas shopping, gift certificate spending, giant cookie cake pickup and Glamour Shot sessions. There is no lake at Southlake, but there is a patch of woods between The Mall and the interstate.
Over the past few years, and many trips down 75, I’ve watched the progress of a strange development on this site. One by one, these huge historic-looking houses were wheeled in on flatbed trucks and reassembled in the swampy no-man's land between the Sears parking lot and the expressway.
They seemed so forlorn and out of place. Who was doing this? I wondered. And what for? I stopped to take this photo in September of 2006.
So I just got back in town after 6 weeks in the mountains, and had to make the rounds of Stumptown: Anne & Bill's Restaurant, the Library, and of course, I pulled over to check out the progress at “Olde Morrow.” It's fancy!
Today I called the City of Morrow’s Economic Development office to get the lowdown. Lawanda told me it’s going to be a 17 acre development that will include taverns, retail, restaurants and a bed and breakfast. The central fountain and gardens will host receptions and outdoor events. Here’s the craziest part: they’re building the lake. As in “Southlake.” It's about goddam time!
Those are, in fact, historic structures from all over the state... the kind of old estate homes that have been displaced and demolished due to suburban sprawl. So this is where they go to die. (I can’t help but think of the old Victorians they rolled out of Mountain View to make way for the expansion of the airport. Wonder if they'll be wheeled back in someday for a mixed use development?)
If you pick up a historic house and move it from its historic context, is it still historic? Is history portable? Is it packagable and marketable? I guess we'll find out Spring of 2009.