Welcome to one of our favorite places, the Atlanta History Center (AHC). Amidst the beauty and bustle of Buckhead (North Atlanta), the AHC is an oasis of green, 33 acres to be exact, filled with historic houses, gardens and award winning exhibitions. The AHC transports the visitor with opportunities to learn, relax and experience the many resources that have been cultivated there for over 50 years.

Many folks think of the Swan House when they think of the AHC, and well they should. The Edward Inman “Swan” House is a mansion designed by Philip T. Shutze and built in 1928 for Edward and Emily Inman. The Atlanta Historical Society purchased the home in the 1960s and developed the house and grounds into what it is today. To learn more about the AHC visit this website.

Our project at the AHC represents a small piece of the whole. Art of Stone Gardening was hired to improve a stone walking path that had degraded over time and was causing run-off issues. It needed some TLC. The path is one of many that takes visitors  into Swan Woods and ten acres of native woodland that surround Swan House.

Image 1: Just as the sign says ‘Garden Renovation in Progress’, our work at the Atlanta Historic Center improved one of many walkways on the 33 acre property.

Image 2: The Swan House can be seen at the top of this picture, at the top of the hill. This path exits the formal Swan House Gardens and enters Swan Woods.

As seen in Image 2, the wood edges dividing the path were rotting, water had washed away most of  the gravel, and the drain on the right side of the photo was not functioning

Image 3: Instead of the big slabs of stone in this picture, which are  arranged perpendicular to the slope, we cut narrower pieces and butted them together into a series of steps. This redesign was especially needed because of the slope/elevation of the hillside.

The first question might be why not add a concrete pathway so that it never washes again? That is what we would normally do but, this space is surrounded by mature trees. The AHC did not want to damage the trees by cutting their roots, and a concrete pathway takes away from the natural setting. So, we did just a little bit of concrete work on the edges and the drain box. Eventually, many years from now, the main pathway will need to be redone.

We reused two of the original path stones for the creation of edges for the steps. We also cut and placed them in concrete for the edge of the drain, its sides and basin. See images 5 and 6.

Image 4: The degradation over time and the disarray of the original ditch is evident in this picture.

Image 5: Note how the sweep of the new stone steps follows the grade of the hillside, thereby diminishing the effect of “waterfalls” flowing directly down the hill.

Image 6: The stone edging that we added was set into concrete to hold it in place. The use of stone edging resolves the problem of rot which is inevitable with wood edging.

Image 7: The deeper drain than was there before will  handle larger amounts of run-off.

Ta-da! The finished project, a pathway intentionally designed to mold itself to the hillside with an inviting and accommodating approach to the platform and bench. 

Image 9: The expanded and more strongly molded drain to the left and the gradual and two-directional steps, center and right, resolved the issues of drainage, erosion and degradation.

Image 10: Pleasing to the eye and functional for the woods, this inviting path to the bench and platform is undoubtedly in keeping with the graciousness of the designer and residents of  Swan House. It beckons the visitor to Swan Woods to rest awhile or explore further

Art of Stone Gardening works to resolve problems and create innovative, thoughtful solutions to public and private landscapes. Let us contribute in a small – or large – way to one of your favorite places. Thanks for your interest, and contact us if you want to know more.