Life has an interesting way of coming full circle, and few things are more rewarding than actually putting your education to use. I have a deep connection with the not-so-well known architecture firm of Frazier and Bodin that was active in Atlanta between 1926 and 1939. Most Atlantans are generally familiar with Neel Reid and Phillip Shutze, and possibly Lewis “Buck” Crook and James Means, but there are several other architects that deserve recognition, among them Frazier and Bodin. The firm has largely remained unnoticed but deserves appreciation as one of the city’s most important architectural firms, and its work should become part of the general cultural history of Atlanta.
Growing up in nearby Griffin, I discovered the firm in my teens when my family was searching for a new house. There were always several houses that my family admired, and as my parents began to inquire about them, we realized that all of the homes had been built by the same architects, Charles Frazier and Dan Bodin. Unbeknownst to us, Griffin’s primary residential streets showcased a variety of Frazier and Bodin designs. Between 1927 and 1939, the firm designed sixteen homes and seven commercial or civic buildings in Griffin. After Frazier’s death, Bodin designed two residences and three commercial buildings between 1940 and 1946. Not only had we always enjoyed seeing and visiting these homes, but also my father was born in a hospital that the firm designed in 1929.
My parents purchased a Bodin home that was built in 1940 and 1941, and we have yet to stop working on it. After struggling to make me work on weekend projects with him, my father is amazed that I chose renovation as my career. Upon entering college I intended to become a lawyer or investment banker, but my interests shifted from finance and tax law to architecture and architectural history. After taking all of the architectural history classes that Washington and Lee University offered, I undertook an independent study of the Colonial Revival style in Georgia, including the work of Frazier and Bodin. Not knowing how much I would find on the firm, my thesis focused on the eclectic styles of the early twentieth century and did not focus solely on Frazier and Bodin. During my research I learned a great deal about the firm and discovered the Lamberson Collection at the Atlanta History Center which includes most of the firm’s drawings. During my senior year, I interviewed Bodin’s daughter, T. D. Ray, and granddaughter, Christine Ray Connolley, who lives in the house that Bodin built for himself in 1923 on Springdale Road in Druid Hills. Fourteen years later, I would move across the street from that house, and Connolley’s daughter would babysit our first son. With Revival Construction I have had the pleasure of renovating three Frazier and Bodin houses in Buckhead and continue to advise friends in Griffin on their homes.
Charles Frazier was born in Griffin in 1883, and it is not known if another Griffinite preceded him as an architect. Frazier attended the Georgia School of Technology, now Georgia Tech, before there was an architectural program. After completing two years of study, Frazier apprenticed with two local architecture firms before hanging his own shingle in 1908. Frazier is best known for his designs of Asa G. Candler, Jr.’s mansion, known as Briarcliff, and the Pallas and Blackstone Court Apartments on Peachtree Road which have since been demolished.
Daniel Herman Bodin was born in 1895 in Svana, Sweden, and his family immigrated to Youngstown, Ohio when he was five years old. Bodin attended Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburg where he studied architecture under renowned architect Henry Hornbostel and graduated in 1920. After graduation, Hornbostel hired Bodin as a draftsman and sent him to work on Callanwolde, the Tudor mansion built by Charles Howard Candler on Briarcliff Road. Callanwolde was one of Hornbostel’s few residential commissions in Atlanta, in addition to his master planning and design of Emory University. After the completion of Callanwolde in 1921, Bodin remained in Atlanta and began working for Charles Frazier. Bodin quickly became the firm’s principle designer and was made a partner in 1926.
The firm of Frazier and Bodin flourished during the thirteen years before Frazier’s death in 1939. Frazier and Bodin focused on residential commissions and worked primarily in the Tudor, Georgian, and Colonial Revival styles but proved to be adept in all of the popular eclectic styles of the period. Frazier and Bodin is best known for its work with Charles H. Black, Sr. and the development of the Tuxedo Park area of Buckhead. The firm designed the majority of the houses that were built in the neighborhood prior to World War II and set the tone for the entire development. The houses designed for Hugh P. Nunnally, Charles B. Nunnally, Charles King, and Robert “Bobby” Jones are perhaps the firm’s best known.
In addition to the very impressive residences built in Tuxedo Park and throughout Buckhead, the firm also designed numerous mountain retreats at Tate Mountain and set the standard for residential architecture in neighboring Griffin. Regardless of the scale or cost of the building, Frazier and Bodin’s designs were charming and well conceived.
Frazier died in 1939, and Bodin continued as Daniel H. Bodin Architect until World War II brought an end to most building. After the war Bodin formed a partnership with Willard Lamberson that continued until Bodin’s death in 1963. After 1945 Bodin and Lamberson’s work largely shifted from traditional residential commissions to modern commercial work. Unfortunately, one of the firm’s most successful commercial commissions, the Life of Georgia Building, built in 1930, has been slated for demolition by Crawford Long Hospital.
According to his former partner, Willard Lamberson, “Dan was a great Architect. He could get a job done, do a creditable job of the design, get it built and wind up with a lifelong friend of his client.” The work of Frazier and Bodin has stood the test of the time and compares favorably with the homes of more well known Atlanta architects. Hopefully, in the coming years, Frazier and Bodin’s work will gain its well deserved acclaim.