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Jan 12

The Suburbs

Posted on January 12, 2021 at 4:08 PM by Allison Duncan

“Ranch houses dominate Georgia’s twentieth-century domestic architecture.  First occurring in the state in the 1930’s, they became the house of choice for Georgians with as many as 175,000 built between 1940 and 1960 (Clouse 2008). Closely aligned with the nation’s population growth after World War II, the Ranch House was based upon a distinctive and historical western house type that became a modern house type with national appeal.”

In 2010, the Georgia Transmission Corporation developed The Ranch House in Georgia: Guidelines for Evaluation. As Ranch houses aged into eligibility for consideration of historic status, these guidelines offer a comprehensive view of the importance of Ranch House neighborhoods to community development.
Ranch House Guidelines

“Primarily financed through FHA and VA loans and planned and developed by builders or developers, the subdivision served as the predominant system of residential development in the United States between 1945 and 1970” (The Ranch House in Georgia, page 77). The map below captures a picture of subdivision development in the Lithia Springs area. It includes dates of construction for homes in these neighborhoods between 1950 and today.
Subdivision Map

“Residential zoning laws often produce subdivisions that are auto-oriented in focus with large, landscaped lots and deep, uniform setbacks and side yards among the house that provide an open, park-like environment” (The Ranch House in Georgia, page 78). Street layout may be wide and curving or rectilinear in plan. Lithia Springs has both of these types of neighborhoods. Ranch houses were built as both planned communities and along roadway corridors on individual lots, where they were typically oriented toward the right-of-way.

This old zoning map is from the brief period that Lithia Springs was reincorporated in the late 1990s.  It shows that much of the area is captured in a residential zoning classification.  The prominence of R2 and R3 zoned areas reflects the first-generation suburban development of the area. Douglas County first introduced zoning laws in the 1960s, subsequent to State enabling legislation of the 1950s. This aligns with this period of post-war growth in the US.
Lithia Springs Zoning Map 2000

One of the oldest of these neighborhoods is Lithia Heights. Homes in the Lithia Heights neighborhood date to the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
Lithia Heights GIS map
Lithia Heights Subdivision phase 1
Lithia Heights Subdivision phase 2

Roughly concurrent to Lithia Springs, the Raven neighborhood comes online in the 1950s. This concept plan drawn in 1956 shows the rectilinear street grid and uniform location of houses on the lots.
Raven Subdivision GIS map
Raven Subdivision

The cul-de-sac was also a common feature in some Ranch neighborhoods.  Wide, curving street layouts were typical of many communities, including Boulder Park Estates. Platted and built in the 1970s, this neighborhood captures many of the characteristic elements of these neighborhoods at their peak: low, horizontal building mass, uniform design, large lots, and park-like landscaping.
Boulder Park Estates GIS map
Boulder Park Estates

Special thanks to Douglas County GIS and the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office for information in this post. 


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