The year was 1924. George Francis Willis, a prominent patent medicine tycoon, had an idea. The suburbs east of Atlanta had already become well established, with Decatur a force in its own right. But as the area continued to grow, people would need places to live. So Willis purchased an entire town, called Ingleside, with the intention of starting from scratch and creating a planned community (a pretty novel idea for 1920s Atlanta).
One assumes Willis was a Shakespeare junkie; when it came to designing this town, he drew some inspiration from the Tudor-style structures in the Bard’s birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon (he borrowed part of the name, too). The vaulting roofs and exposed timber of the late Medieval period isn’t an aesthetic one commonly associates with the American South, but in Avondale Estate’s case, the experiment added a dash of color to (what was, at the time) suburban living, and the notion stuck.
Now, almost a century later, the town has changed a little, with periodic bursts of new construction here and there. But many of the original structures lining the tree-strewn streets remain, surrounding a bucolic, friendly downtown that offers just enough entertainment for an easy-going night out.
Strong private schools that have been highly rated
A population of young creative professionals who work at organizations like Emory, CDC, and Turner Broadcasting
A community that offers an easy walk to light amenities, dining, and entertainment options.
A commute to the center of town that takes about 20 minutes in normal traffic
Proximity to the I-285 Perimeter
Homes with tons of character
A slow-paced, family-friendly environment to raise the kids.
Avondale Estates is technically a city, but with a population of barely 3,000, it’s more commonly lumped in as being a part of Decatur (which is only a mile to the west). As such, a commute to the center of the Atlanta will take just a little longer via one of the surface streets, though it’s not uncommon to find folks living in Avondale Estates who rely on the Perimeter, too, which is less than a mile to the east.
If you’re an architecture buff, do yourself a favor and take a driving tour of the neighborhood if you’ve got some time to kill. The decidedly English vibe has withstood the test of time, and over the years, successive owners have really embraced the quirky styling of their homes.
There are plenty of supermarkets around, but part of the draw to Avondale Estates is its proximity to Your DeKalb Farmers Market (a five-minute straight-shot to the north). The enormous facility features fresh produce, packaged goods, meats, and cheeses from across the globe, and is one of the city’s favorite grocery locales. 3000 E Ponce de Leon Ave., (404) 377-6400, dekalbfarmersmarket.com
A small, dedicated push of entrepreneurship has taken hold in Avondale Estates, which prides itself on the cooperative spirit of its local government. In the past, city officials have done everything from arrange ribbon cuttings for new businesses, to helping prospective business owners obtain low-interest financing.
New to Atlanta?
Whether you’ve already slated your move to Atlanta, or are just considering this city as your new home, you’re likely going to be doing a lot of research. Every city has nuances, history, quirks, and jargon that can be confusing for newcomers, and Atlanta is no different. We’ve taken the liberty of providing a few basics with our Atlanta Beginner’s Guide. Check it out, and you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.
Avondale Estates is bordered to the north by Avondale Road, which turns into College Avenue just a little to the west. Memorial Drive, which lies to the south of Avondale, also makes getting to the center of town (and to the Connector) pretty easy. Otherwise, a network of smaller surface streets offers a variety of options for navigating the eastern neighborhoods.
The I-75/I-85 Connector is about 7 miles to the west. The Perimeter, however, is only about a mile away, to the east.
There are two rail stops fairly close to Avondale Estates. One is, fittingly enough, Avondale station, which lies to the northwest of the neighborhood. For residents of the eastern end of this tiny city, however, Kensington station would be a good bet.
The cutest, most unashamedly retro movie house in all of Atlanta underwent a transformation a little while back. While movies are seldom shown at this venue anymore, it has turned into a great spot to see live music, standup comedy, and performance art on the weekends. 106 N. Avondale Rd., (404) 228-3125, mytownecinema.com
It’s not hard to find some sizable back yards in Atlanta, if you know where to look. But by and large, the lots in Avondale Estates are larger than most other neighborhoods with an ITP address. If acreage is important to you, start the search here.
There are a couple of great local festivals in Avondale. The first is Art-B-Que: taking place in late spring, this annual fete blends local artwork with pulled pork. The other, AutumnFest, takes place in early October and packs the streets with more than 90 artists, live music, chef demos, food trucks, and more.
Never underestimate the power of a good Southern ‘meat-and-three.’ This eatery is entirely unassuming, but the cafeteria-style fare carries that dinner-at-grandma’s-house authenticity that keeps people coming back. 2831 E. College Ave., (404) 292-9356
A relative newcomer to Avondale’s dining options, this buzzworthy modern-meets-blue collar Southern eatery does breakfast and dinner classics (the grits are glorious), backed up by some eyebrow-raising quirks like delicious handcrafted sodas. 124 N. Avondale Rd., (404) 600-5297
While the buildings outside say mid-16th century, this retro malt shop, festooned with odes to Americana, is much more mid-20th. It’s a fun little neighborhood stop-thru that’s garnered notoriety for its scrumptious corn dogs. 17 N. Avondale Rd., (404) 500-1785, pallookaville.com
Waffle House. Even in a city like Atlanta, where good food reigns supreme, there’s still something indefinable and wonderful about counter-service hash browns, an eclectic late-night crowd of hangover shirkers, and a waitress who calls you ‘hon.’ The first Waffle House opened in Avondale Estates in 1955, and today, the location is a museum dedicated to all things smothered, covered, and chunked (tours can be arranged if you call in advance). 2719 E College Ave., (770) 326-7086