Hampton Woods began development in 1986, however, the land Hampton Woods is located on has an interesting history. The following account of the history of Hampton Woods was written by one of our residents.
Before Suburbia . . .
Article written by Hampton Woods homeowner, Jeff Rodencal.
For most of us Hampton Woods residents, we know the subdivision we love, the changes and growth we see and the automobile lifestyle we live in Suburbia. Have you ever wondered what Hampton Woods was like before all this came to be? Here is a brief story about some of the history of the farm that would become the place we would call home.
In 1937, the Johnson Ferry Bridge over the Chattahoochee River was a one lane steel bridge. The only asphalt pavement on Johnson Ferry Road was on the hills leading to the river o the Fulton county side. The rest of the road was gravel as it ended at Lower Roswell Road. When the river was high, the Cobb side was often under water. On the corner was Perkins General Store, Saul’s gas station, Perkins’s Ace Hardware (still owned by the family) and Mt. Bethel Grade School. The baseball fields drew enthusiasts from around Cobb County on weekends and throughout the summer much as they do today. An airstrip was located behind the current Parkaire Kroger. That was the year that J.D. Butler ventured out of Atlanta to buy a 90-acre farm from Mr. Ledbetter.
The farm bordered on what one day would be Woodlawn Drive (it was a horse trail at the time) and the power lines on the south. Pat Gilem owned the land where Mt. Bethel Methodist currently sits and a Georgia Power utility station was the predecessor to the post office. The only access to the property at the time was a driveway from Lower Roswell across Mr. Dickerson’s farm. The farmhouse and barn were on the top of the hill approximately where the cul de sac intersects with Chestnut Lake. The 10 acres on the flat area where Dickerson Middle School now resides were farmed in corn and pasture land. The Ledbetters raised chickens and had a few dairy cows that grazed up to the ball fields. The area was blessed with five natural springs and JD decided in 1938 to dam up one of them to build a lake.
In the Summer of 1938, J.D. and his hired hand, Mr. Voyles took on the task to build the dam. With a 30 lbs. hammer they drove 2 x 10 shiplap boards vertically into the ground, side by side, to form the core of the dam. Then with 2 mules and a scoop, they began carving out the shape of the lake. The excavated soil was piled against the wood pilings to form the earthen dam that forms Butlers Gate around to the gazebo today.
J.D.’s son, Doyle was on the swimming team at Ga. Tech at the time. So, J.D. made sure that it was deep enough, 25‘ at the end by the dam, so the kids could use the high dive on what is now the gazebo. There was a float in the lake near the diving tower for the kids to swim to. What remains of this float still exists behind Doyle’s son’s house, Roswell.
J.D owned a contracting company that built such Atlanta landmarks as the downtown Rich’s and the 1st hangar for Delta airlines. Any excess gravel, stone, or construction debris from projects he was working on was hauled out to the farm and used to build up Woodlawn and the driveway that lead from it into the property. The driveway wound around the lake to lead to the first house that J.D. would build on the property. After the lake was finished they built the house where Doyle’s brother, Roswell I. Butler’s current house sits.
Built in 1939 it had four bedrooms, a screened in porch and a walk in freezer. A garden for raising vegetables thru out the summer was tilled near by. Development on the farm was interrupted by WWII as the sons in the family went off to far corners of the world to serve their country. Doyle landed at Utah beach on D Day + 2. After Doyle’s return from Europe, the original house built by J.D. burned down in 1962 in a fire. The replacement house was quickly built and still stands today at the end of Butler’s Gate.
J.D always kept horses on the farm in the old barn on the hill. The families weekends and summers were filled with horseback riding and kids fishing, hunting and playing around the lake. J.D. got a deal on five horses in Stone Mountain, so after the purchase, he rounded up family members for the day long trip to ride them from Stone Mountain to the farm. His sons Doyle and Roswell used to love racing their horses down Woodlawn Drive. The construction company and the farm with it passed from J.D. to Doyle and Roswell in 1972.
In 1980, 70 acres were sold to Bill Merritt to develop what would become Hampton Woods. By this time Dickerson Middle School had already been built. The family kept 20 acres around the lake as an out parcel and subdivided it to live in their homes to this day. Roswell and Margaret Butler, and Beth Butler Vandergriff have been long time residents. Doyle returned to the farm of his youth in 2005 where he has been enthusiastically welcomed back to the farm of his childhood by his family and neighbors
History of Hampton Woods