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Whittier Mill Village

A little piece of country inside the Perimeter


It is not easy to find the Whittier Mill Village neighborhood, but those who do hope the rest of Atlanta never discovers their urban nirvana. "We are blessed with isolation," says longtime resident Don Rooney. "People drive by us for years and never know we are here." However, keeping the charms of the neighborhood a secret is becoming more and more difficult. Tucked between the Chattahoochee River and the Norfolk Southern Railroad line, this northwest Atlanta neighborhood is seeing a boom in popularity. "You have all the perks of a close-in neighborhood, without the price," says resident Tevi Tallifero, who happened upon her turn-of-the-century home three years ago. Residents of Whittier Mill often comment that because of its perceived remoteness, it is like living in the country. Just minutes from downtown, Whittier Mill's yards overflow with vegetable gardens and flowers, explains Don Rooney. The occasional unpaved road or two add to the rural feel.

The country sensibility of the residents has also fostered a strong sense of community in the neighborhood. "We are very close to our neighbors here," says Tevi Tallifero. "We take real pride in our community; we watch out for each other, bake cookies and stand in the street and chat."

Whittier Mill came to life in 1895 as a village for workers at the Whittier Textile Mill. The mill rented the modest frame houses to its workers for about $1 a week, and the village became the center of social life for the workers. When the mill closed in 1972, many of the retired mill workers stayed but most expected the neighborhood to die. That didn't happen. Instead a new generation moved in, fixed up the old houses and is carrying on the neighborhood traditions.

History remains important in Whittier Mill. The neighborhood is designated by the City of Atlanta as a Historic District, meaning that the Atlanta Urban Design Commission must approve major changes or alterations to the exterior of buildings as well as the designs for new buildings in the area. Tallifero and Rooney both agree that the design guidelines have allowed the neighborhood to grow and change, but still retain unique character. Recently, several new houses were built on the old neighborhood baseball field. Because of the design guidelines, these houses blend beautifully with their historic neighbors, but have all the amenities found in a typical modern house.

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