Oakcliff’s Hidden Gem: The Oaks

Earlier this year, when Merle was telling me her story about living in Doraville’s Oakcliff neighborhood for the last 50s years, she showed me a document which I found interesting. It was about the establishment of a Pool and Tennis club in the neighborhood, and was one of the selling points in helping her family decide to settle in the fledgling development.

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The document is very simple: a hand-typed sales pitch for the new community’s pool – laying out what kinds of activities it would have and how they would be organized.

The pool was actually a big selling point for Oakcliff in general.  Merle told me that the homes in the subdivision were a little cheaper than the ones in nearby Northcrest – and the pool was actually bigger.  Since the two neighborhoods are so close to each other, every advantage mattered when it came to attracting the new home buyers who were flocking to the area.

What really surprised me was when Merle said the pool was still operating today.  The way it was set up when it started, the pool and tennis club was a gift to the neighborhood from Tom Cousins, its builder.  He turned it over to the homeowners, and they were responsible for keeping it going with membership dues and whatever other money they could bring in from renting it out for special events and the like.

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I started asking around to see if I could find someone to give me a tour of the facility.  Valorie Sweigart, the current Treasurer for The Oaks gave me a call and offered to show me around.  I jumped at the chance!  I met her at the pool on a weekday afternoon – shortly after I got off work.  One thing that is really surprising is how hidden the location is.  It is deep in the neighborhood, at the end of a cul-de-sac.  If you didn’t know it was there, you’d miss it!

The first structure you see through the trees is a mid-century structure painted blue, sitting just beyond some trees.  I knew I had found The Oaks.

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The first thing you see when you walk in is a huge bulletin board with information and memories posted all over it.  One of the things I hadn’t realized was that there’s a tennis team at the Oaks which has done fairly well in Atlanta-wide competitions.

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I guess it’s no surprise when you see the professional-quality tennis courts that are hidden behind the Oaks’ walls!

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Even more impressive is the thing that made me start searching for The Oaks in the first place – its huge pool!

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The pool has played a big part in the everyday lives of the kids who grew up in Oakcliff over the years. Dara Leatherwood remembers:

Every July 4th we would have a huge pot luck with a firework show and the older kids got to spend the night! Great times growing up there with swim team, swim lessons, dive lessons, diving lessons, tennis, and occasional club house birthday parties. My kids don’t have anything close to that. We used to walk to the pool or bring our bike and chain it up on the bike rack.

Some kids joined for more mercenary reasons as Tim Sullivan recalls:

We joined for the 1973 Summer season, a friend of mine said if we didn’t join I wasn’t going to meet any Chicks at all.

It may not be the pick-up spot that it was in 1973, but The Oaks still has a passionate community of members who enjoy what it has to offer. They still spend the Summers by the pool and have big gatherings for the 4th of July.

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If you’re interested in joining the Oaks, you can give them a call at (770) 449-9552 or check out their Facebook Page and get more information there.  The cost to join is:

Family (parents & related children in home) $275.00
Small Family (2 people in home) $225.00
Single (1 adult over 21) $200.00
Membership Fee (first year only) $25.00