The grand Dickey Mansion in Buckhead is one of Atlanta’s most historic private homes and cele-brates its 100th anniversary this year. The imposing white home sits across the street from the Gover-nor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road on a gentle rise. It began its life in January of 1915 and has been described by architectural historian William Mitchell, Jr. as “an Old South/New South monument for a ‘lord of the manor’ of his neighborhood.” [p. 97 of J. Neel Reid, Architect].
Many of Atlanta’s wealthiest citizens had been gravitating to the bucolic delights of rural Buckhead in the early years of the 20th century. Grand estates were carved out of the woodlands both for perma-nent and summer homes. The city’s leading architects were often hired to make sure the new homes were both visually impressive and full of the latest amenities.
James L. Dickey, Jr. had made his fortune in insurance and was a social leader, who lived on the vast estate owned by his father on Paces Ferry Road. When the senior Dickey died in 1910, the estate was sold and subdivided but James, Jr. kept a prime parcel where the current home stands. He had been living there already in a small cottage but hired the young [founded in 1909] but prestigious firm of Hentz [Hal] & Reid [Neel] to design his new home and estate. R. S. Adler would become a partner in the firm shortly after the Dickey home was designed but did draft some of the plans.
The result was the imposing mansion which resembles Mount Vernon with its grand columned fa-çade. It is one of the few wood houses of this size that the famed designer Neel Reid ever created. Many of his stone and/or brick houses for the wealthy adorn Buckhead and other cities in Georgia. The estate was named “Arden.”
According to newspaper articles announcing the design of “Arden” in January 1915, it was a home of “colonial design.” Mrs. Dickey assured reporters and readers that the interior would be decorated entirely in the “colonial type” to match the exterior. The home remains, 100 years after its beginning, a prominent private residence with few exterior changes [the original Mt. Vernon-like balustrade along the roof line of the portico is now missing].