Sunnybrook Farm

When Jim Perkins and I first met in August of 2006, he suggested two possible subjects for my first Past Tense column. Jim was looking for someone to take over the column due to health issues. The subjects were Camp Gordon or the history behind street name Sunnybrook Farm Road. 

Since that time, I have written about Camp Gordon many times. Sunnybrook Farm Road has remained a mystery until now.    

Sunnybrook Farm Road runs off Roberts Drive, north of Spalding Drive in Sandy Springs. The first thing that came to my mind several years ago is perhaps the developer was inspired by the book “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,” written by Kate Douglas Wiggin in 1903. 

My next guess was that Sunnybrook Farm was a summer home, like others in this area from the 1920s through 1940s. The summer homes had names such as Lazy River Farm, Ellaslea Farm, and Sirron Farm. They were often the location of elaborate picnics and parties written up in the society section of the newspaper, but Sunnybrook Farm was a different type of farm. It was the farm of Benno and Anny Stein, where Benno bred and trained dogs.    

Benno Stein was born in Amsterdam in 1901 and came to the United States in 1923. Anny was born in 1903 and came to the U. S. from Magdeburg, Germany. The couple married in 1925.

One of Anny Stein’s witnesses on her naturalization papers from 1936 is German sculptor Fritz Paul Zimmer, who lived and worked in Atlanta. 

The address for their farm changes through the years. In the 1930s, the address is Roswell-Dunwoody Road, in the1940s it is Route 1 Dunwoody, and later Roberts Drive. When homes were developed around the older Sunnybrook Farm home, the address became 1621 Sunnybrook Farm Road.

Benno Stein and his dogs provided entertainment at events around Atlanta. They performed many times at an annual carnival held at the Cathedral of St. Phillips. Benno Stein trained dogs to smoke pipes, climb walls and ladders, and jump through burning hoops. He first learned about dog training in Germany. (The Atlanta Constitution, “Kennel Barks and Yelps,” by Ralph McGill, August 21, 1932)

The 1930 Census shows that Sunnybrook Farm was next door to Laughridge Kennels, operated by A.S. and Louise Laughridge. Newspapers describe a large sign with a German Shepherd illustration marking the spot to turn off Roswell Road to get to both Laughridge and Sunnybrook Farms. 

In the 1990s, Lynne Byrd documented and photographed all the older homes she could find in Dunwoody and parts of Sandy Springs. It was her photograph marked Sunnybrook Farm that reminded me to revisit this subject. If you remember Sunnybrook Farm or Laughridge Kennels, please write me. 

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