J. Neel Reid, Architect


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Author: William R. Mitchell, Jr.

Photographer: James R. Lockhart

Format: 9" x 12"

Pages: 250

Description: hard cover; full color; 325 illustrations; color photographs, floor plans, drawings, sections, details; annotated jobs list

ISBN: 0-932958-19-2

Price: $50.00

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For Neel Reid and this book we must think back seventy years and more, to another time—of porte cocheres and sleeping porches, French doors and parterre gardens, trellises and pergolas, porticoes and fanlights, summerhouses and servants’ quarters—a time of classic but not antebellum columns, before the Great Depression and World War II. We must recall the first decade of the twentieth century when three Atlantans, Hal Hentz, Neel Reid, and Rudolph Adler, studied architecture at Columbia University.

We must envision an (always) ambitious, growing Atlanta, but with a much smaller population than today; with new, not-so-tall skyscrapers in a bustling downtown. We must envision a time before urban sprawl, superhighways, and jet aircraft; before air-conditioning, television, and shopping malls. It was a time of train stations, downtown department stores and movie palaces, swank apartment houses, and smart social clubs. Let us remember those days when Peachtree Street north of Ponce de Leon Avenue was largely residential, and the genteel, green suburbs of Ansley Park, Druid Hills, Brookwood, and Buckhead were still being built.

Let us picture this world that Neel Reid helped to build and to give form and style. And let us imagine a rare thing—a Southern cultural hero—yes, and a Southern gentleman as well, handsome and social (a popular bachelor), but a genius who was first and foremost an artist and tastemaker, not yet forty-one years of age when a brain tumor took him away: loved, celebrated, mourned, and seldom forgotten.

Let us reacquaint ourselves with this champion of architecture, gardens, and interior decoration, of fine arts and antiques, a leader of charm and style who helped to establish architecture and landscape architecture as professions in his region. And let us be aware that he and his partners and staff of interns and draftsmen from their Candler Building (beaux arts atelier) office/studio founded a Georgia school of classicists, spawned numerous careers and other firms, and set lasting professional and aesthetic standards.

We recall and celebrate these achievements, especially this legacy of the artistic leader and legendary hero of the Georgia school of classicists, Joseph Neel Reid, known as Neel. His Southern genius for the classical tradition shines in this book. May it long survive in the handsomely proportioned pediments and elegant but fragile fanlights from his drawings and designs—beautiful and abiding manifestations of American civilization from the first quarter of this century, providing inspiration for new schools of classicists in centuries to come.

William R. Mitchell, Jr.
Excerpted from the Prelude / Esquisse