When Albert Martin bought his Pine Hills home in the late 1960s, he didn’t realize that he already had a connection to the neighborhood.
While combing through old maps and records and deeds, Martin learned that the land where Pine Hills was built was owned by his great-great-uncle. He also found that some of his relatives are buried in a small family cemetery in the woods nearby.
“We knew the cemetery was there, but didn’t realize it was kinfolk there,” Martin said. “My family has a long association with the whole neighborhood. It just sort of solidified the area we lived in, and made it more interesting for me to get into the history of Pine Hills.”
Martin is the historian of the Pine Hills neighborhood, and has spent many years researching the history of his family, the Goodwins, who have lived since the 1800s in the area that now is Brookhaven.
The Pine Hills subdivision sits on the line separating Fulton and DeKalb counties, with some of the homes in the Buckhead community of the city of Atlanta and some in Brookhaven.
“That’s one of the things that makes Pine Hills unique,” Martin said. “Our community has to be active in four jurisdictions, with the creation of Brookhaven.”
His wife, Virve Martin, said that activism has kept their neighborhood the quiet, shaded community that it is. Neighbors have worked hard to fend off developers who have eyed their property, with its easy highway access and proximity to Lenox Mall.
“There have been so many zoning meetings our community has attended over the past 30 years. That’s why we’re still residential,” Virve Martin said.
The vibrancy of the neighborhood can be seen in the mix of old and new homes, said Melissa Chevalier, who moved to Pine Hills after she got married seven years ago.
“It’s a transitional community,” Chevalier said. “There’s some ranch [houses] and McMansions. There’s a little bit of everything.”
But it’s the mix of people in different stages of their lives that makes Pine Hills such a nice community, she said.
Chevalier is president of the neighborhood’s garden club, which has held monthly meetings for the past 50 years.
“It represents the people of Pine Hills – that means young and old. The older women are the most fascinating people,” she said.
The club meets once a month from September to May in members’ homes. It hosts speakers on a variety of topics, such as cooking or decorating.
“We jokingly say we’re the garden club that doesn’t garden,” Chevalier said.
However, the money the club raises goes toward beautifying the neighborhood, Chevalier said. One of the club’s most popular projects was installing stations with plastic bags around the neighborhood so people could use them to pick up after their dogs.
Chevalier said one of her favorite things about Pine Hills is the sense of community. After her daughter was born, the women in the garden club bought her a basket filled with their favorite children’s books and cooked her dinner.
“We’re your old-fashioned kind of community,” Chevalier said. “It still has an old-fashioned touch to it.”