Neel Reid (1885-1926) was one of Georgia’s most celebrated residential architects, and the colonial revival home known as Arden is considered to be one of his finest achievements. When designing the mansion in Tuxedo Park, one of the largest wooden houses he ever worked on, Reid was inspired by George Washington’s iconic Mount Vernon in Virginia. That influence manifests itself in Arden’s eight grand columns and expansive portico as well as the dormer windows and overall symmetry.
In 1903, James Dickey Sr. purchased 405 acres of land on West Paces Ferry for the sum of $6,000. Over the decades, the land has been subdivided and sold to build estates such as Mayor Robert Maddox’s Woodlawn and, eventually, the Governor’s Mansion in 1968. (Interesting tidbit: The house at 468 West Paces Ferry, which recently sold for $1.9 million, was once part of this estate.) But before the land was parceled out, Dickey’s son, James L. Dickey Jr., carefully selected the ideal location from among the 400+ acres for his new home. Arden was constructed on that prime spot starting in 1915. By the time it was completed in 1917, the Dickey house cost $119,850.
The six-bedroom estate, which now sits on two acres directly across from the Governor’s Mansion, is currently listed for $5 million. Although it was once restored by notable Atlanta architect James Means (1904-1979), listing agent Molly Beery of Beacham & Company says that the home, which has had the same owners for 45 years, could benefit from a fresh renovation, particularly in the kitchen.
Beery does, however, note that many of the original architectural features have stood the test of time: “The detail in the moldings and fireplace mantles is amazing. It’s nothing like what you’d see in homes built today. The hand-painted 19th century wall mural in the dining room was brought over from Czechoslovakia in 1917. The hardware and 23 light fixtures in the main area are all sterling silver.”
Other notable features include paneled mahogany doors, hand-worked glass, marble hearths, velvet-lined library walls, and a manual elevator. The first and second floors have 11.5-foot ceilings, and several of the bedrooms have their own private screened porches (all of which are at least 20 feet in length). As is common in Neil Reed constructions, the grand entrance hall greets guests with soaring curved staircases and a crystal chandelier that has overseen many gatherings of Atlanta’s elite.
Outside, Arden is shaded by mature hardwood trees as well as dogwoods, giant hollies, rare red maples, and a 50-year-old Chinese elm. Off-street parking is available for up to 15 vehicles, because a mansion like this simply begs to be used for entertaining.
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