Susan Bridges owns and operates contemporary art space Whitespace Gallery out of the 1893 carriage house located on her property. Over four decades, she's watched the neighborhood transform from a desolate community to one of Atlanta's most sought-after residential areas.
I moved here in 1971. It was pretty grim. Absentee landlords, slumlords, that sort of thing. This house had been cut up into six apartments and there were 35 people living here. There were nine apartments in the house next door. It was a total flophouse. The landlord collected weekly rent in cash and if the tenant couldn't pay — I actually saw this — he would drag them outside and mace them. That had been going on for years.
I grew up in Druid Hills, but there was this renaissance, this era of urban pioneers. My husband and I, we had read about this interior designer who had bought a house down the street for $10,000. That was a big attraction: low price, big house.
Your friends who want to dream with you and talk about how great it's going to be to renovate a big old house, well, they'll dream with you until you ask them to haul a bathtub down the back steps. Then you're left on your own to dream.
We were very idealistic. We always thought that the neighborhood would come together. It finally did, maybe three years ago.
After all these years, though, the greatest thing that's happened to Atlanta and Inman Park is the Beltline. The idea that I could step out of my house and walk to Piedmont Park, that's bigger than any of us.