About two weeks ago we drove to the Emory University campus grounds in the Druid Hills area of Atlanta. Their brochure says: “The University is recognized internationally for its outstanding liberal arts college, superb professional schools and one of the Southeast's leading health care systems.” It also says: “Emory ranks among the top 20 national universities in the U.S.” Distinguished faculty members include former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Booker Prize-winning novelist Sir Salman Rushdie, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, symphony conductor Robert Spano and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a visiting professor there for two years. Emory alumni have included one U.S. vice president, seven U.S. senators, 13 U.S. representatives, three governors, three ambassadors, one Supreme Court justice, several university presidents, five Pulitzer Prize winners, an astronaut….and one of my daughters and my son-in-law both of whom received Masters Degrees there before going on to medical school.
Seal of Emory University
Map of Emory University Campus – Lullwater Park surrounds Candler Lake.
The main campus covers more than 600 acres. It includes Lullwater Park which is a 185 acre park owned by Emory and also home to its president's residence. The public is invited to enjoy the lawns and wooded paths surrounding the mansion, so a couple of weeks ago we went for a visit. The park is closed to all gas powered vehicular traffic making it entirely green – and especially quiet during week days as there are very few visitors.
Entrance to Lullwater Park and the president’s residence (Click on picture to enlarge it.)The land originally belonged to the Creek and Cherokee Nations. The Native Americans who occupied and hunted in this area were forced away by the white settlers in the 1820s and the land divided into lots. Paths where the Cherokee Indians had walked with their moccasins were then used by settlers on horses. Log cabins were built on the lots; one had a church which was destroyed by General Sherman during the Civil War.
We walked through the stone gate posts - it was drizzling and gray. Going down the paved trail over Peavine Creek - which is a branch of the historic Peachtree Creek – our only fellow stroller was a lady walking her dogs.
Peavine CreekThe sun had appeared but the air was cool and crisp. Some of my pictures were taken in the mist, some under sunlight. Walking down a gently rolling hill we came upon a shimmering lake.
Don't forget to click on pictures to enlarge them
Walking around the lake we could hear a roaring noise. We quickly found that this was coming from falls near a decaying mill – the dam on South Fork Peachtree Creek. In the early 1920s the dam and power house furnished electricity to the Lullwater house.
A little further we saw the 210 foot long suspension bridge which was completed in 2008 by the company Sahale – if you wish more information on the bridge click here. We walked across the bridge which was swaying a bit under us as in an Indiana-Jones movie. (It was built to connect the Veteran’s Medical Center to the Emory Campus.) This is a low-environmental impact bridge which fits well between the trees.
We walked back to the mill so I could take closer pictures. I entered the roofless tower. Here we were close to the center of vibrant Atlanta but so far away from its hectic pace. My husband snapped me while I was photographing the creek.
This is what I was seeing
As we were returning to the paved trail Lullwater House came into view – and what an outstanding house in the middle of all this secluded scenery. It is built of stones and not at all in the Southern style with Doric columns but is a sprawling English Tudor mansion. Here is its history: Asa Candler (1851-1929) was a Georgia man who owned a drugstore in Atlanta and manufactured medicines. He bought the Coca-Cola formula from its inventor in 1887 and marketed it successfully into the Coca-Cola Company. This made him a millionaire. In 1907 he established the Lullwater estate where his fourth child, Walter, built the Lullwater House in 1925. Walter Candler sold the estate (including the house, the landscaped grounds and the artificial lake) to Emory University in 1958 and it has been home to Emory’s presidents since 1963.
The house was built from stone quarried on the site then the hole was filled to make a swimming pool. The house is 11,425 square-feet and is imposing. Walter Candler raised racing horses and had a race track on the grounds. He also owned Hereford cattle, hogs and chickens. There was a pasture round the lake and even boat races on the lake. Here is a postcard that shows part of its interior.
It is hard to believe that we are less than ½ hour from downtown Atlanta with all its activity and noise. This is a refuge for the few students who jog or hike the grounds and the rare strollers like us. In 1963 26 acres were sold to the U.S. government for the Veterans Administration Hospital – the site where Walter Candler used to have a lake clubhouse and serve barbecue. More construction was planned in Lullwater park but students and residents in the area petitioned to conserve the park . A task force was organized with a comprehensive management plan. The university president vowed that he would protect the land from further land development.
The late British broadcaster Alistair Cooke said in one of his “Letters from America” that Emory was the "most beautiful campus in America" with "plunging hills and gardens and little lakes, all set off with towering trees"… "Visiting Emory was like walking into the Garden of Eden.” In 2009 Emory was named one of the nation's top ten greenest colleges. Let’s hope it will stay this way. We all need to stay vigilant and keep beautiful natural habitat intact for future generations.
I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend? – Robert Redford, American actor, director, environmentalist born in 1936.