Okay, here goes…. This will be an ongoing saga.
A year or so ago Buddy and I decided we might be ready for a change. We wanted to get a bit closer to our family and hopefully shorten Buddy’s time spent in the car for these last few years before retirement. My dream is to be able to say to the kids and grandkids, “I’m cooking a pot roast for Sunday after church. Ya’ll come over.” and actually be close enough for them to come.
The Process Begins
And so we began exploring the possibilities. We wanted a home that would be all one level (after all this is where we plan to spend those “golden” years.) After much searching we came to the conclusion that the small historic town of Norcross would be perfect. Norcross sits about 15 miles northeast of the center of Atlanta, has easy access to highways, and is as close as we could get to being in the center of our two sons and their families, and Sara.
Okay, We Decided — Now What?
I thought deciding where to go would be the hard part, but I was wrong! With the recently improving economy I was apparently not the only one with the idea to move to Norcross. It had become quite popular. On top of that, being a small, urban area, building lots were few and far between and small, and many of them were heavily sloped. The idea of a one story home with no basement was starting to seem like it would stay the dream it started out to be.
And then one Saturday morning last November it happened. When I said my prayers that morning I asked for guidance. If this was not where God would have us go I asked that he show me and I would give up. About an hour later I received an email responding to one of the many inquiries I had made about property in Norcross. “Yes, I will sell” he said!!!! And so, we closed last December on the perfect piece of property in the historic district in Norcross. It is big enough to accommodate a one-level house for us AND meet the architectural requirements of the city. We began the work of planning our new home with an architect, Alexandra Gotsch of Gotsch Studio, a surveyor, Bill Gresham of Gresham Planning and contractor, Louis Tapia oftCenturion Living.
An Overview of our New Hometown
I thought the best way to start journaling about this adventure is to share an overview of our soon-to-be new hometown, Norcross.
I’ve been doing a lot of walking, taking pictures, meeting people and just taking it all in. I made a visit to the Welcome Center and the ladies there, Cate Kitchen and Laura Smith, were so welcoming and eager to help me learn about the city.
I was pleased to find out that there is a nicely put together brochure featuring two walking tours of the historic homes of Norcross. I’m looking forwarding to completing both tours myself very soon. The museum is divided into two areas — one tells an overview of the history of the town and the other is dedicated to Norcross’ rich baseball history.
In 1869 this was the first stop on a railroad being built from Atlanta into northeast Georgia. John J Thrasher bought the 250 acres surrounding the stop in 1870 and a town was born. He named it after his friend, Jonathon Norcross, who was a former mayor of Atlanta. The expansion of the railroad had been his idea.
The Depot building was built in 1909. It was originally used for passengers and freight. A commuter train known as the “Air-Line Belle” ran between Atlanta and Norcross from 1909-1932. The Depot building is now a popular restaurant, Crossing. I took this next shot of another great restaurant across the street, Mojitos. Buddy and I were enjoying a glass of wine on the porch of Crossing and watching the activity.
Behind the row of shops, restaurants and offices which includes Mojitos is Skin Alley. Several of the restaurants have patios along the alley, and I understand there are occasional jazz concerts in the Alley.
A full overview of the restaurants can be seen here.
Norcross’ Historic District is 112 acres. There are many beautiful homes, some very grand, some more modest, some are historic themselves and some are newly built, but keeping the characteristics that make them fit in beautifully.
Some of the older homes have been lovingly restored and are now being used as businesses or for civic groups.
This one is home to the Norcross Garden Club. This is another popular restaurant, Bleu House Cafe’.
The city has quite a few parks for its small size. Thrasher Park is just across the railroad tracks from downtown and has lots of great amenities, including a playground, picnic pavilion, bandstand, relaxing frog… I’m looking forward to attending the summer concerts here. I understand that they bring quite the crowd.
This beautiful little park is on the grounds of City Hall and is named for a long time city employee.
This park was formerly known as “The Ballground” and for many years was the center of the baseball activities so important to the city. There is a sign to the right of the entrance about that history.
The park has now been renamed for one of Norcross’ most loved citizens, Mrs. Lillian Webb. The sign to the left of the entrance states that she has been a pioneer for women in Norcross and Gwinnett County politics. In 1970 she was the first female elected to the city council and in 1974 was voted in as the city’s first female mayor, and was re-elected for four consecutive terms. She was also the first woman to chair the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners. In the mid 1990’s she returned to her first love — her hometown of Norcross and its citizens enthusiastically welcomed her back, electing her as mayor for ten more years before she retired in 2007. This park is named in her honor so all who come here will be reminded of her many contributions — a dynamic, talented and gracious public servant and a friendly neighbor who has always kept Norcross first in her heart.
Lillian Webb Park is now host to a variety of events and activities. The most recent addition to the calendar is Wednesday Wind Down featuring Food Trucks with a rotating cuisine, music, volleyball, etc. I can’t wait to check it out, and Buddy and I will be honored to count Mrs. Webb as our neighbor very soon.
Following are a few more shots from around town. I invite you to do as I did. Come to Norcross, park your car and walk if you’re able, soaking in a wonderful little city full of old churches, homes, restaurants, taverns, parks and best of all, friendly people.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about our soon-to-be-new hometown. We are about to start construction on the house and I plan to chronicle the project here. Stay tuned!
Construction Begins Soon
(To read about the first phase of construction of the house click here.)
To read about the restaurants of historic Norcross click here.
To see the Interior Home Tour after we finish the house and get settled start here.