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  • Writer's pictureHistoric Columbus

Six Weeks of Wynnton (Overlook)

Week 3: Wynn's Hill - Overlook - Oak Circle

The Wynn’s Hill-Overlook-Oak Circle Historic District represents an early to mid-20th century neighborhood that was developed from several antebellum estates. In 1834, Colonel William L. Wynn purchased 100 acres of land located on a rise east of downtown Columbus, outside of the city limits. Colonel Wynn would soon begin selling off parcels that would become neighbors for his soon to be homesite, the Wynn House. Those new neighbors would build Gordonido and The Elms.

Colonel Wynn built this Greek Revival home between 1838-39. In 1852, Henry Hurt bought the house, enlarged it, and added marble fireplaces. He sold it in 1855 to Hines Holt. John T. Cooper bought the house in 1905 and moved it closer to Wynnton Road so the land behind the house could be subdivided. The Cooper family developed Oak Circle.

In 1837, Colonel Wynn sold John Dawson the site for his home. It later became the property of the Gordon family, hence the name “Gordonido” (Spanish for Gordon’s nest or residence.) The classic lines of the Greek Revival house remain even though embellishments were made in 1918 by Firth Lockwood and in 1949 by James J. W. Biggers, Sr.

The Elms was built in 1844 by Lambert Spencer. The house and 12 acres were bought in 1862 by Lloyd G. Bowers, Sr. Mr. Bowers added the two, large hexagonal wings in 1868 and commissioned a painter to fresco the ceilings. It was Mrs. Bowers, with the help of an English gardener, who laid out a beautiful formal garden in the shape of a butterfly and planted elm trees along the front sidewalk.

During the 1920s, a majority of the land behind these three homes was purchased and developed by Lloyd G. Bowers, Jr. Mr. Bowers hired South Carolina landscape architect Earle S. Draper to design Overlook as a picturesque neighborhood with curvilinear streets and a park-like setting. Draper designed mill villages and neighborhoods throughout the South. In Columbus, he worked on the extension of Bibb City, Peacock Woods, and St. Elmo Park.

The earliest known residence in Overlook is 933 Peachtree Drive - built in 1923. The home was designed by F. Roy Duncan and built by West Point Iron Works for Walter J. Holden, a superintendent at Meritas Mills.

With the incorporation of the larger Wynnton area into the city limits in the mid-1920s, residential construction boomed. Also, during this time, public services were being built in Wynnton, such as a new fire station on nearby Brown Avenue, the new 1925 13th Street viaduct, and the new Columbus High School.

The district is significant for its Colonial Revival, Mediterranean Revival and Tudor Revival architecture, as well as its architect-designed residences – James J.W. Biggers, Sr., Jack Cady, F. Roy Duncan, Charles F Hickman, Thomas Firth Lockwood, and John C. Martin.

The original parameters of Overlook were from the Wynn House on Cooper Avenue east towards Brookwood Avenue. Draper completed the roads and landscaping in 1926 and nine houses were built. In 1927, Bowers started advertising lots for $3,000 each. It was developed and promoted as a refuge from city taxes, but included several restrictions placed on the lots for development that would have been typical at the time. According to the National Register nomination for Overlook, these restrictions would deny apartment houses from being constructed and African Americans from living in the neighborhood. They defined the thresholds of home values and created design restrictions for the new homes.

In 1949, the Columbus city limits were extended again. The expansion gave Overlook the opportunity to expand its acreage. The city paved and installed water and sewer services to the area of Overlook near Buena Vista Road and Overlook Drive. The second construction period began during this time and is evident in the number of Ranch houses located on this side of the neighborhood.

The houses on the north side of Wynnton Road were built between 1908 and 1925. In 1925, William Clark Bradley purchased Sunset Terrace (the Miller-Bradley House). The original owner of the house, Brick Stonewall Miller, hired W.B. Marquis, landscape architect with the Olmsted Brothers firm to design landscape plans for the house. The plans were later used by Bradley, who also remodeled the streetcar stop from the 1888 trolley line into his pool house.

Six houses were built between the Bradley home and the intersection of Wynnton and Buena Vista roads - two have been demolished. The fountain and park at the intersection were given to the city in 1929 as a memorial to Lenora Sarling, a leading woman in civic, social, and religious circles. The sculpture

is called "Mrs. Columbus."

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