The History of Village at Deaton Creek
EARLY HISTORY OF DEATON CREEK
ALTON and NINA HOSCH
Alton Hosch was born in Gainesville in 1903 and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1923. He received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1928 and became a Law Professor at UGA, rising to Dean in 1935.
In 1941, he was called to active duty with the Judge Advocate General's Corp in the US Army, serving until 1948. He was on the battleship USS Missouri when the Japanese Peace Treaty was signed, and he took part in the Nuremberg War Trials in Germany. After the war, he returned to the UGA Law School as Dean, serving until 1963.
Over the years, Alton had been buying land in Hall County, acquiring almost 1,000 acres, most of which was used to grow pulpwood for the paper industry. His property, bounded by Deaton Creek on the east, Mulberry River on the south, west of present-day Eagle Ranch, and Union Church Road to the north, included a horse farm across Eagle Ranch and Oliver Road to the north. He lived in a small house on that lot, near the road. The large white house on the hill above the horse barn was the original Gainesville house where he was born. He had it dismantled and reassembled on the hill location.
Alton married Nina Rusk in 1972. It was the first marriage for both. Before the wedding, they built a small chapel, placing it to the left of the large white house. Unfortunately, it had room for only twelve, so many wedding guests had to stand outside during the wedding ceremony. Nina graduated from the Emory School of Nursing in 1935. At the start of WWII in 1941, the Army asked the school to form a medical unit. Nina and 1,000 Emory Hospital doctors and nurses eventually served in North Africa and Italy until the war ended in 1945. She retired from the Army Reserves as a Colonel after twenty years. In the early 1950s, Emory University selected Nina to be the first Dean of Women, a post she held for about ten years.
Alton passed away in 1980. After Nina inherited the property, she sold part of the acreage to Cox Radio for the tower. She sold some to Eagle Ranch, which was just getting started, and then sold all the land and buildings across Union Church Road. Nina kept nearly 400 acres by the Creek and River.
Nina designated 40 acres for a Rusk Family Cabin, on which her nephew, Jim Brazell, and his sister Nancy Brooks eventually built. Jim was concerned about security, so Nina added a caretaker's cabin with a four-car garage. Jim and his wife Eleanor had several hobbies, so Nina built a large barn near the Creek. She also gave nephew Dave Rusk 20 acres on Union Church Road between Village at Deaton Creek and Eagle Ranch.
In the late 1980s, several family members spent a week investigating the feasibility of starting a large craft school on the remaining 350 acres. But, unfortunately, it was clear that it would take far more effort and money than was available.
Nina passed away in 1992. She left the entire property to the Emory School of Nursing, with the provision that Jim Brazell and his daughter Elizabeth would have lifetime use of the property. Emory also had to "maintain" the property. Emory did not want the property since they could not sell it until Jim and Elizabeth passed away. However, maintenance was not defined, and with no income designated to pay for it, Emory was willing to negotiate. Since Elizabeth had a life expectancy of another 50 years, Jim convinced Emory they would be better off to accept his offer of $50,000 for the entire property, which they did.
Developers speculated that Chateau Elan's completion several years earlier pointed to strong real estate development potential for this part of Hall County in the future. Many developers approached Jim about selling the property. He would not make counteroffers, telling them that they had to raise their offers. Jim entered into talks with Pulte Del Webb. Pulte then contracted with Vintage Communities, land and home developer to secure all the land necessary to build the Village at Deaton Creek. Linton Swindell, owner of Vintage Communities, contracted with Jim and his daughter Elizabeth to purchase all but thirteen acres to develop the Village at Deaton Creek site.
Jim Brazell and Linton Swindell signed the contract for $8,500,000 on a Monday morning in December 2003, and Jim passed away that night. Linton had already secured the land for VDC south of the river, and in early 2004, serious planning for the project got underway. However, once the project became public knowledge, it faced opposition from three of the five Hall County Commissioners. They proposed instead to make the 350 acres a county park. Some argued that seven 50-acre parks would serve the County much better. Planning Commission hearings were filled with opponents complaining that development would mean double-wide homes and school buses. Two of the five Commissioners would be leaving office on January 1, 2005, and their replacements were not in favor of the park concept.
The County's offer for the entire property was two-thirds of that Pulte had offered, which did not include the cabin and its thirteen acres. A County Commissioner who led the opposition decided the only way to win was to file an Eminent Domain lawsuit against Pulte, Vintage Communities, Jim's widow Eleanor and daughter Elizabeth. Late in December, Eleanor and Elizabeth were warned they would be served with the lawsuit. They responded by going to Alpharetta to hide out in a motel until January 1. The case was later dropped when the two new Commissioners took office in the new year.
With official opposition out of the way, development plans were approved by the Hall County Commission and Vintage Communities. Early in 2005, site preparation, installation of underground utilities and roads began. Pulte started enlisting interested homebuyers, conducting presentations, and a "Dusty Shoe" walk in early June 2006. A "Big Tent Sale" followed when 135 future Creekers signed sale contracts. On November 9, 2006, the first residents closed on their Deaton Creek home.
By: Herb Rusk, Resident of Village at Deaton Creek, (Revised for Clarity 6/2021 CS)