This is the third of four articles about early Atlanta Pioneers Richard and Martha Todd, their family, and remnant traces of their early presence in the Atlanta area. The first article is about the Todd Homestead, and the second article is about the Todd Cemetery, and the fourth is about the Burial Site of Patience Elizabeth (Todd) Armistead.
If you look at a map of the Virginia-Highland area, it is plain to see that it is a planned development with streets laid out mostly in even grids. Near the main intersection of Virginia and Highland Avenues, however, a street called Todd Road cuts at an odd angle for a few blocks across the grid and connects Highland View Ave. to Virginia Ave.
The odd angle of Todd Road is because it’s a remnant of an old wagon trail that used to lead to the Todd home site, making it one of the oldest streets in the Atlanta area. This old Todd Road is shown on Civil War era maps of that region.
Two parts of the old Todd Road exist today, an upper segment and a lower segment. The upper segment is the one mentioned above that intersects with Virginia Ave. It is now a paved city street. Here is a map of its location:
The upper segment of Todd Road has been paved for about 90 years, since the Virginia-Highland area was developed into a residential neighborhood in the early 1900’s. For about 100 years prior to that, Todd Road was an unpaved wagon path, connecting pioneer homesteads, and before that it was almost certainly an Indian trail. Lewis LeVorsey, an Archaeologist at the University of Georgia wrote in a 2003 article:
Before Georgia had roads, it was laced with Indian trails or paths. These trails served the needs of Georgia’s native populations by connecting their villages with one another and allowing them to travel great distances in quest of game, fish, shellfish, and pearls.
Indian trails were used extensively by all travelers when Indians occupied land in Georgia, and it is almost certain that early white pioneers who moved in after the Indians used the same trails.
As the following plan shows, in 1917 the path of the upper segment of Todd Road was changed so it would intersect Highland View Ave. at a right angle, for a better traffic pattern and to create a better layout for the residential lots that bordered it.
Just a trace of the lower segment of Todd Road exists today as a private drive that has been cut-off from public traffic. Here is a map that shows its location to the west of the old Sears building on Ponce De Leon Ave. in about 1911. The dotted lines probably indicate that it was not paved:
Today, a satellite view shows the construction pattern that was defined by the old Todd Road, possibly because it was a defined as a border in old property deeds.
The rest of Todd Road has been scraped away and built over—a fairly easy task since it was just a dirt path. The old Todd Road that connected the Todd and Ivy homesteads, both early Atlanta pioneers, is vaguely discerned when you plot the homesteads and the existing two segments on a map:
In the late 19th Century suburban development began in the Virginia-Highland area with the construction of Green B. Adair’s summer home at what is now 964 Rupley Drive. The road pattern had been established by then and Todd Road had been preserved. The old mansion was then the only dwelling on a 16 acre estate which was later subdivided for housing development. It has survived and is now divided into upscale apartments:
This 1914 map shows the property subdivided into residential lots ready for development with the existing Adair Mansion marked in the middle:
Another early home built along Todd Road was the R. P. Carson home built about 1911. It stands today at 929 Adair Ave. and remains a single family dwelling that has been beautifully maintained and updated:
The following 1917 map shows this area also subdivided for further residential development. The modified intersection of Todd Road and Highland View Ave. is shown as complete (the plan for this is shown above,) and the small park in the upper right-hand corner of the plan is still there today.
@historyatlanta – I really enjoy learning all of these insights into Atlanta
I actually know about Todd Rd behind the Glen Iris lofts but didn’t know whole story. Thanks.
The street is Highland View, NE (no “Avenue”). We love Todd Road!
The Old Todd Road is all that remains of an old Native American trail in Virginia-Highland… Read the story: http://t.co/QDxrWxtEZf
@historyatlanta So cool.