The humble beginnings of the Buckhead Business Association

ATLANTA — By all accounts, Buckhead was a relatively sleepy community in the years after World War II. Perched just north of the city of Atlanta, the Buckhead community had about 50,000 residents by the latter half of the 1940s.

Sleepy as the area was, it was home to a few businesses, including a hardware store. But, this is years before the Buckhead of today, perhaps best defined by its mass quantities of shopping, including Lenox Mall, Phipps Plaza and Buckhead Atlanta.

“Soft-drink millionaires and many other wealthy tycoons live in the area,” The Associated Press reported in August 1947. That same month, voters in both Buckhead and Cascades voted by a 4,244-2,499 margin against annexation into the city of Atlanta.

After the 1947 vote, leaders pushed a “home rule” concept. In that scheme, a majority of voters in the city and the areas to be annexed would need to approve annexation for it to be successful. In 1949, two years later, a majority of voters approved the plan. The Georgia Supreme Court later declared the “home rule” concept unconstitutional.

The reason for annexation was either to reduce the cost of services to Fulton County or to lessen the clout of minority voters.

Noted Hartsfield: “When the limits of a city remain static for too long a time, there is tremendous migration of new and youthful, active, and child-raising citizens into the suburbs. These constitute the ‘cream of the crop.’ Unless some way is found to reach out and include these people in the active, voting management of the city, it will have a disastrous effect on the future management of the town.”

Buckhead ultimately joined the city of Atlanta on Jan. 1, 1952.

At first glance, there appear to be few media mentions of the organization at its start. The North Side News, a former newspaper in the city, noted in its Thursday, Sept. 25, 1952, edition:

The Buckhead Merchants Association was a year old this week and its first birthday was marked at a dinner meeting Tuesday evening at the Walter Wells dining room.

No festive feature marked the first milestone or the organization that promises to give this community leadership in the brilliant era of spectacular growth that appears predestined as a result of the inevitable forces of decentralization.

Instead of festivities, the dinner was marked by short and in-the-point observations; by unity of thought in matters of fundamental importance, and nu unanimous agreement upon a new slate of officers who, in the opinion of every member, are best qualified to continue the association’s work.

The Buckhead Merchants Association, as a name, apparently remained in effect until 1955. The North Side News noted in its Wednesday, Aug. 17, 1955, edition:

At a dinner meeting Monday evening at the Dixie House, members of the Buckhead Merchant’s Association voted to change the name of the group to the Buckhead Business Association. The change, which has been contemplated for a number of months and was adopted unanimously, was made to broaden the scope of the organization and increase both its membership and effectiveness, according to President Floyd J. Pike of Regenstein’s.

The new Business Association, which has been functioning about four years under its previous name, now has 80 paid members, but Mr. Pike said it has a potential of 180 and it is hoped that some 50 new members can be added in the near future. Membership is limited to one representative from each company or organization, usually its head.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Today, the BBA has been representing the Buckhead community for more than 65 years.

About the author

Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits The Travel Trolley and Railfanning.org.