Friday, December 11, 2009

The Quest for P&H Homebuilders - Part 1

My next series of posts will be about P&H Homebuilders - the company that developed and built most of the homes in Northcrest. I had heard many stories about the builders - named Paul Edwards (the "P" in P&H) and Howard Hardrath (the "H" in P&H) over the years. From original homeowners I learned that they were a dynamic pair of gentlemen who somehow came from the car business ("they were these car salesman...") and that they started out by building homes over near Chamblee in Drew Valley and Northwoods. Anecdotally I learned that Paul was quite the good looking guy who would often charm the wives (never hurts in sales I guess) of couples buying in the neighborhood. I had also heard that there might have been a third partner in the very beginning but no one I talked to remembered his name. I was given some materials gathered by Chuck Hunt and his wife (Chuck has been the president of the Northcrest Neighborhood Association which most people probably don't know about - it's actually a loose group of homeowners who have gotten together in the past to provide support and action against potential zoning problems, or other neighborhood concerns like the addition of hte speed humps on some of the streets.), like an alternate version of the neighborhood brochure and a few old published newsletters.

My next bit of information came from the son of an original homeowner who grew up in the neighborhood - Chris Bowen, who's family lived on Hartwood Lane (in the front of the neighborhood - he also told me that he has some photos of himself taken by his dad when the street was still gravel so this was pretty much in the very beginning of the development). When he mentioned that there may have been a third partner to his dad, he was told:
After talking with my Dad, he told me that the original corporation developing the subdivision was "THE, Inc."

The partners were:
A man by the last name of Talley
Howard Hardrath
Paul Edwards

According to Daddy, they were equal partners. I'm not sure when they became "P&H".

Another bit of far as the P&H houses that were built...
Local framing contractors were used for the basic framing but...he roof system, the 4x8 beams and the 2x6 "V" groove, tongue and groove decking was all done by a family business out of North Carolina or Tennessee....
Supposedly they had a sawmill operation and they did a turnkey operation and took care of all the houses in the neighborhood.

If our memory serves us right, we gave you a map of the neighborhood from 1964 or 1968. You may recall that I told you that my father drew this to keep records of the memberships at the swim and tennis community since he was a committee member of during those times. The other residents of the neighborhood that we have given this to seem to have gotten a kick out of it, and we're happy to provide it."
That map was a rather interesting diagram of the streets and lots in the front of the neighborhood (before Hidden Acres and lots East were developed). The lots are mostly labeled by the current - 1962 or so - owner's with phone numbers. There are also numbers indicating membership order and larger numbers for funds commitment. The diagram I believe was used to gather money to fund the pool.

Based on the info I had I started to add it to the NorthcrestModern website, indicating that much was word-of-mouth or speculative. The website stated to garner some interest in the local papers and eventually by national periodicals like Dwell - also Mitch and Daniel's house on Lynnray managed to get into Atomic Ranch. Later in 2008 Brian Robboy and Doug Thornburg put together a feature article for Atomic Ranch - that's when I was first contacted by Ray Edwards (Paul Edwards' son) and Dorothy Hardrath (who wrote "Howard Hardrath was a double first cousin of my husband's. We've been friends for many years.") - she also provided Howard's phone number - but I felt a bit awkward calling him up "out of the blue" as it were.

Ray and his wife came to the house and we sipped wine while he reminisced about the neighborhood - Ray grew up during much of the development and actually helped out doing tasks around the neighborhood. He told me that his dad and Howard own matching A-frame houses at Lake Lanier and that his dad still lived there. As an aside, he also told me that many of the homes in Northcrest East (the old name, the entire development is now referred to as Northcrest-Pleasantdale but in the past the homes from Lynnray and to the east were part of Northcrest East) were actually built by Howard's brother, Bud "Buddy" Hardrath. He also volunteered to get into contact with his dad and try to track down some additional records and info if they still exist. I'm still following up with this lead.

In the meanwhile, Cindi was contacted by Sam Troutman who is married to Sue Hardrath, daughter of Bud Hardrath (still living) who invited us to come to Howard's home and speak with him. Dorothy Hardrath told Sam and the family in Atlanta about the Atomic Ranch article and they were all excited to meet us. Included would be Lori Hardrath (who incidentally was the source for Lori Lane!). How exciting! More to come in part 2!

-- John

1 comment:

Lora_B. said...

John: Keep the information coming. It is fascinating to read about the creation of the neighborhood and the folks involved. Your passion for pursuing the hitory of the neighborhood is appreciated.