Front of Tompkins House
National Register photograph by Yen Tang
The Henry B. Tompkins House and its landscaped gardens are an outstanding
example of the work of Neel Reid, one of the most respected early
20th-century Atlanta architects. Totally unaltered in design and
plan since its construction in 1922, the house is one of the most
complete remaining examples of a Reid villa. Reid studied at the
acclaimed Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and returned to Atlanta
to open the noted Atlanta architectural firm of Heintz, Reid, and
Adler. His work can be seen throughout the residential neighborhoods
of suburban Atlanta. In the Tompkins House, Reid's mastery of scale
and ability to create controlled dimensions and open space with
a small volume are evident. The house reflects both the freedom
with which he used elements to maintain a consistently formal tone
throughout and the skill with which he provided for the practical
needs of the relatively affluent lifestyles of his clients.
The design of the house was adopted from a Georgian house in Chichester,
England. Its exterior is built of natural limestone and its composition
is basically a hipped roof capping a center block with flanking
wings. The facade of the two-story building contains little ornamentation,
but is accentuated with a stone stringcourse delineating the first
floor from the second, stone strip pilasters that frame the corners
of the house, and a pedimented central pavilion framing the entrance.
This main entrance is over scaled to make it the focal point of
the house. Framed with rusticated pilasters and crowned with a broken
segmental pediment and ornate cartouche, the doorway is Italianate
in style. The interior is composed of a round entrance hall, rectangular
stairwell and octagonal library. This central axis forms a varied
geometric plan. The entrance hall, with its domed ceiling and four
rounded niches alternating with its four doors, repeats the geometric
pattern. The formal garden completes the villa style of the house.
It is cut into the hill, walled with granite from nearby Stone
Mountain, and paved in part with brick. The three granite walled
sides of the garden when coupled with the house creates an intimate
and private atmosphere.
The Henry B. Tompkins House is located at 125 W. Wesley Rd,
in NW Atlanta. It is a private residence and not open to the public.