Talk of the Town - Archie's bunker December 16 2004

For Susan Archie, home is where the art is

On an unassuming dead-end street in Candler Park, Susan Archie has found paradise in a '60s-style California bungalow. Since 1994, Archie and partner Janet Smith have remade their once dilapidated "shack" into a modern and stylish live-work space in which Archie operates her own graphic design firm, World of anArchie, out of what used to be the laundry room. Her design and art direction have encompassed everything from Captain Beefheart's Grow Fins to Charley Patton's Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues box sets, the latter of which earned her a Grammy in 2002. Her work on the Goodbye Babylon box set for the Atlanta-based label Dust-to-Digital has earned her a nomination for a second Grammy in the category of "Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package."

While Archie once fit right in with the hippie-centric Candler Park, the neighborhood has become a haven for wealthy and conservative young professionals.

Creative Loafing: What brought you to this house?

Archie: Janet saw an ad for it and drove over to peek in the windows. She liked it so she called the guy to tell him she wanted it. He had an appointment to show it the next day, but she said, "Nope, I want it!" She paid him $1,000 in cash for the first and last month's rent. The people who were coming to look at it never had a chance.

Were they mad?

Yeah, but they didn't know what they were missing. When we moved in, no one had ever taken care of it. Janet kept asking the landlord if she could buy it. He finally sold it to us in '94 for $85,000.

What was the neighborhood like back then?

It was full of working-class hippies. In the '70s, this was a terrible neighborhood, but then hippies moved in because it was cheap and they cleaned it up.

Has it changed much since you moved in?

It used to be mostly left-leaning people, but you have to make a lot of money to live here now. There's a house behind us that's selling for $750,000 and the house across the street went for $550,000.

Holy cow!

The neighborhood association exerts a lot of control. It's a small group that has money and influence and they wield their power to do whatever they want to do regardless of what anybody else wants. I heard a story that some rich woman moved into a house by the MARTA station and tried to get the bus route changed because when the bus goes by, it shakes her house. The bus has been running there since before she was born.

You're not going to let them push you out, are you?

No way! When I move out of here, it will be to live on the beach in Florida.