Our Piedmont Recreation Department’s Walking on Wednesdays group had a great weather day last Wednesday for a long walk to see some streets on the southeast side of the city. There was a strong turnout of 40 walkers and one K-9 best friend at the Exedra for it.
As you know, we try to walk every safe-to-walk Piedmont street during the year. One we hadn’t gotten to was the uniquely named Wyngaard Avenue. We could get to Wyngaard by going out St. James Drive and up Cambrian Avenue and Sandringham Road. It would require some climbing, but anyone who didn’t want to do the climb could continue to the end of St. James and enjoy that
level street. However, there was an incentive to make it up to Wyngaard. We would learn what/who “Wyngaard” is.
We headed out going up Highland Avenue to Wildwood Avenue, and got another look at its long line of trees with their now fading fall leaf colors. We went through the Hall Fenway to Crocker Avenue and checked on the progress of a new, three story garage being built. It was shared that the owner will give us a tour when it is completed. On we went to Hampton Road and down St. James Drive to two, white columns at La Salle Avenue. These columns marked one of the entrances to the 1920’s St. James Wood Tract development, which started at La Salle and Hampton Road and went all the way to Park Boulevard. We continued on to the foot of Cambrian,
and since some walkers were going to walk St. James a group photo was taken there. For the rest of us, it was up Cambrian and Sandringham to Wyngaard. Across from the foot of Wyngaard was a beautiful home built in 1934. It has a steep slate roof with witches hat caps, and expansive Bay views. Architect Jim Kellogg commented on it, and we thought it is wonderful.
It was now time to answer the question, what/who is Wyngaard? A Google search found no one named Wyngaard for whom the street might be named, but the walkers learned that this surname was found in the US in 1880 with seven Wyngaards living in Wisconsin. That was all of them living in the US. The name is primarily found in Africa and 86 percent of Wyngaards are found in Southern Africa, so maybe there is a Dutch influence? Wyngaard is also the
3,684,242nd most prevalent first name throughout the world. It is borne by only 10 people. There are also Wyngaard Kaas Affiné cheeses that are aged for four months. They have a soft and creamy taste that supposedly combine perfectly with the flavors of black peppercorns. However, a resident of the street once told a walker that Wyngaard means vineyard. The Dutch word for
vineyard is “wijngaard,” so we thought that was it.
We walked up Wyngaard to Estates Drive and two smaller St. James Woods entrance columns were there too, but they are mostly hidden by wisteria vines. Then it was down Estates to Sandringham again. On Sandringham we found a 206 foot set of stairs that took us back down to St. James.
Drawing on research done by Piedmont Historical Society, it was shared that in Piedmont’s early years real estate development and transportation were closed linked. The availability of
convenient transportation increased real estate values, and residents provided riders for streetcars. Homes in the hills were desirable, but developers realized that people needed direct ways to get to the streetcars, so they included paths and stairs into their tracts. In 1926 developer James L’Hommedieu designed three paths into the St. James Wood Tract. Residents could take them from St. James to Cambrian, Sandringham, and Trestle Glen Road. These paths provided shortcuts to Park Boulevard and Key System streetcars. A fourth path provided a shortcut from St. James Place to Trestle Glen.
Near the bottom of these Sandringham steps were the shorter, 104 foot steps back to Cambrian. This was a shortcut and we took them back to the city center. The morning’s exploration had totaled a little over four miles. This was longer than a usual Wednesday walk, but a fun one that included beautiful streets, and explained Wyngaard Avenue.