Tucked between the Chattahoochee River and Bolton Road south of Vinings, Whittier Mill Village was built to house workers for the nearby textile mill during the cotton boom of the 1890s. It’s one of Atlanta’s oldest neighborhoods—and, comprising 30 acres and roughly 110 homes, it’s also one of the smallest. Judy Pratt, who works in interiors and has lived in the neighborhood since 1983, shares her favorite things about the village, where three generations of her family live.
Every New Year’s Eve, neighbors open their homes for an around-the-world-style bash. Come autumn, locals square off in a chili cook-off, and the biggest event of the year, Parktoberfest, features local beer, food, and music. Funds raised go to upkeep of the park.
After the mill closed in 1971, the area declined and part of the neighborhood was almost made a landfill. But in 1994 residents won its National Register Historic District status.
A link to the past
The area retains much of its late-19th-century charm, and new homes are built to look architecturally similar to the original cottages and bungalows, complete with hipped roofs and front porches. Twenty-two-acre Whittier Mill Park houses the original mill tower and other ruins.
In his memoir, The Chattahoochee Boys, J. Slater Baker writes about his scrappy childhood in the village in the 1940s and 1950s, which included baseball games and swimming in Proctor Creek. The friendships of “the boys” continue to this day.
The village’s bygone-era quality draws creatives like nationally recognized interior designer Barbara Westbrook, whose clients include Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester and his wife, Farrah. Pratt, who has sewn for Westbrook, touts nearby Eat.Sleep.Knit., a yarn shop and nod to the neighborhood’s textile roots.
This tight-knit northwest Atlanta community is located by the river right off I-285, providing a straight shot to the airport, and it’s just a 15-minute jaunt to Buckhead shops and restaurants.