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Access Points 18: History Center’s Leila Ross Wilburn exhibit

Were you able to identify the image in this week’s Access Points photo game?

What if it looked a bit more like this?

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This home on Fairview Road in Druid Hills was designed by architect Leila Ross Wilburn. Models based on Wilburn's homes are featured in the Atlanta History Center. AJC file photo

The image on Thursday is a model of a home designed by architect Leila Ross Wilburn. It’s inside the Atlanta History Center’s “Metropolitan Frontiers” section, with a small biography of the architect.

Homes built with Wilburn’s designs still stand in older sections of Atlanta and Decatur, but History Center’s model houses are small, white, made to fit inside the exhibit, provide a hands-on model for kids or a useful aid for people with visual impairments.

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Leila Ross Wilburn

In that section of the museum, visitors are moving out of 19th century Atlanta and into streetcar suburbs, like Inman Park, and Craftsman Bungalows. Wilburn was born in 1885, and studied at Agnes Scott College in Decatur as lifestyles here were changing and those homes were coming into fashion. Very few women were allowed to attend architecture school at the time, but she apprenticed with architect Benjamin R. Padgett .

By 1908 she had opened her own  firm and designed homes that still stand in Inman Park, Ansley Park, Midtown and Druid Hills, and later, more ranch-style homes. When Georgia required architects to register for the first time in 1920, she was one of two women, and her business remained open until her death in 1967.

In all that time, though, she was most famous for her pattern books, like “Southern Homes and Bungalows,” said Don Rooney, the History Center’s curator of urban and regional history. Her books were filled with home designs that fit the style of the day, but provided a list of materials and plans — no additional architect needed.

As Rooney pointed out, “She was very clever.”

Wilburn’s homes were featured in the 2007 Decatur Candelight Tour of Homes, and although the AJC wrote a fun story about it then, it’s no longer online. (But hey, Decatur Metro has a blog post about it!) Meanwhile, Wilburn-designed home pictured above, I noticed, was recently for sale for $949,000.

Want to go? Atlanta History Center, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5:30 p.m. Sundays.$15, $12 for people ages 65 and older, students ages 13 and older, $10 for ages 4-12, free for members and children younger than 4. 130 W. Paces Ferry Road N.W., Atlanta. 404-814-4000, www.atlantahistorycenter.com.

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