Glen Emerald Rock Garden and Glen Emerald Lake History

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History of the Emerald Lake Rock Garden, a mysterious garden hidden off of Bouldercrest Road. 

By Marissa Howard, Programs and Membership Coordinator 

These parks have been described as DeKalb County’s hidden gems. It’s not hard to see why. Glen Emerald Park, and Glen Emerald Rock Garden, hidden off of Bouldercrest Road, contain 27 acres of woodland, lake, parkland, and an unusual rock garden. Visitors to this rock garden have called it Ferngully, with its moss-covered boulders, stone bridges, and millstone table tops.

DHC Blog: Emerald Park and Rock Garden

Photo looking toward terraces. April 2024.

This park was built in 1935 by William Edward Carroll. The Carroll Family owned a 200-acre property off of Bouldercrest since the 1870s. Several extended Carroll family members continued to live on this property. William Carroll (b.1895) opened Dutch Oven Bakers, which became hugely successful. By 1936, 40 stores sold Dutch Oven baked goods and 13 trucks delivered the goods. The main bakery was built on Stewart Avenue (today Metropolitan and the site of present-day Country Home Bakery). In 1935, William Edward Carroll quietly began developing this land “destined to provide Atlanta with one of the most elaborate recreation developments in the southeast.” It would become a 42 acre private development with three lakes, a swimming pool, clubhouse, botanical gardens, Alpine garden, barbeque pits, picnic shelters, horse stables, and riding paths. 

The Atlanta Journal, July 14, 1935  from

DHC Blog: Emerald Park and Rock Garden

View of Emerald Glen Lake with decorative rock feature. The damn has been recently reconstructed. April 2024.

A crew of 25 worked to build the first of three major dams (built on a tributary to Intrenchment Creek), which were 360 feet long, 140 feet wide, and 40 feet high. It was estimated the entire project would take three years, and provide 50 men with construction jobs; an important selling point during the Great Depression. The entire project cost $300,000 and was financed through Carroll Gardens, Inc., a company owned by the Carroll Family. $300,000 in 1935 would be 6.5 million today. I am a little curious about the financing. It was emphasized the project was privately funded, and despite Carroll operating a successful bakery business, he lived modestly in a bungalow in the Westview neighborhood. His parents also lived modestly: his father, George Edward Carroll, was a groundskeeper at East Lake Country Club. 

The botanical garden would begin at Bouldercrest Road, with a broad terrace overlooking the swimming pool, similarly designed to the Candler estate. The terrace would drop 40 feet to a second terrace, on which a spacious lawn and road winding around the lake to the clubhouse. Facing the terraces on a hill would be the Alpine garden. The garden would feature flagstone walks, tables, and benches. The flagstone came from a quarry in North Georgia. 

Three artesian wells would provide water for the project and drinking fountains at picnic sites. Ponds would be stocked with bream and bullfrogs from the hatchery. Bullfrog farming was described as “just one of the many sidelines” of Carroll. Finding that bullfrogs were a necessity to his hatchery, he discovered that “their fried legs are delicious… [and would] supply frog legs to the dining room of the clubhouse.” 


View of pool at the bottom of the terraces. April 2024. 

Trees included hundreds of dogwoods, mimosas, and weeping willows. Additionally, the property had mountain laurels, azaleas, and flowers from all over the world. The landscape designer for this project was William Monroe, Sr., of Monroe Gardens and Landscape. Monroe  was a prominent landscape architect in Atlanta. He was well known for his use of stonework, rock gardens, natural settings, and terraces. He helped develop Chastain Park and Adams Park, both in Atlanta. Monroe Drive was named in his honor.

DHC Blog: Emerald Park and Rock Garden

April 2024. 

Many members of the Carroll family lived on the property, the last documented resident died in 1961. It does not appear William Carroll and his wife Bertha ever permanently lived on the property. He sold his shares in his bakery business and retired to Florida in 1962, passing away at the age of 98 in 1993. By 1981, the park and rock garden were dedicated as Glen Emerald Park and operated by DeKalb County. 

You can visit the parks here:

Glen Emerald Park is located at 1479 Bouldercrest Rd, Atlanta, GA 30316. 

Glen Emerald Rock Garden is 1457 Foxhall Ln SE, Atlanta, Georgia.

The parks are adjacent to each other, however official entrance to the Rock Garden is located off of Foxhall Ln.

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Contact DeKalb History Center