In 1893, an acclaimed Atlanta poet built a fashionable wood home in the Atlanta Suburban Land Company’s East End subdivision. The two-story vernacular Victorian gable-front home with turned porch posts and spindlework stands out among its one-story cottage neighbors in Decatur, Ga.’s, Oakhurst neighborhood.
Tom King and several other preservation colleagues drafted a letter to Sally Jewell, the new Secretary of the Interior. The letter asks Secretary Jewell to revamp the federal historic preservation process:
We urge you to conduct a full review of the national historic preservation program with the aim of bringing it back to the intent of its founders, as that intent relates to the imperatives of the twenty-first century. We would be pleased to do whatever we can to assist in such an enterprise.
Tom asked me to sign the letter along with other practicing heritage preservation professionals and a batch of students poised to begin their careers in a regulatory system that has gone astray from its founding principles. The letter is embedded below. Continue reading
Probably not. But this is the best one I’ve read in a while.
Wills and other probate instruments are pretty ordinary, almost formulaic, documents. Most of the time. I recently came across a will filed in 1942 in Decatur, Georgia, that deviated from the routine. The author made the usual requests that his affairs be settled and his wife administer his estate. And then he got to the part where he directed his heirs to deal with his remains:
THIRD - I direct my remains to be clothed in plain apparel at a minimum cost and conveyed in as inexpensive coffin, casket, or receptacle as possible and cremated in Macon, Georgia, and my ashes returned, in a durable container, to my wife ….
FOURTH - I nominate my friends …. to elect one from their number to accompany my remains to the place of incineration and return with my ashes.
FIFTH - I direct my wife to pay the expenses for the disposal of my remains according to the foregoing prescribed manner, including the fare and transportation of one that attends my remains and returns with my ashes, but nothing for funeral services.
SIXTH - I request that my remains be disposed of without embalment if it can be done satisfactorily to all concerned.
SEVENTH - I shall die as I have lived, believing in the God of nature only, discarding the fairy tales of the Bible as nonsense, which have added many burdens of mental anguish to millions of people departing this life, who were never permitted to think rationally for themselves; hence I earnestly request that no preacher, priest or clergyman officiate at my funeral. I shall go the way of all life without fear of eternal punishment.
© 2013 D.S. Rotenstein
Since 1970, the State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices have received up to $46.9 million in annual matching grants through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) to assist in expanding and accelerating their historic preservation activities.
Funding is used to pay part of the costs of staff salaries, surveys, comprehensive preservation studies, National Register nominations, educational materials, as well as architectural plans, historic structure reports, and engineering studies necessary to preserve historic properties.
The All HPF-assisted activities must meet standards set by the Secretary of the Interior, and at least 10 percent of the allocations to the States are subgranted to assist Certified Local Governments for locally based activities. – National Park Service
In 2010 Decatur, Ga., received a $10,000 Historic Preservation Fund grant for historic preservation-related planning studies at the city’s former equalization schools, Beacon Elementary and Trinity High. The previous year, the City’s historic preservation consultants completed a citywide comprehensive historic resources survey and failed to mention the African American historic site (the survey did, however, include an inventory form for a building at 109 Waters Street with this note: “Number on building is 420 W Trinity, the police station”). Continue reading
There’s more to rural Frederick County, Maryland, than Camp David. Nearby, there were other twentieth century resorts that housed people of lesser means than U.S. presidents.
The Blue Mountain House (F-6-095) is a 1½-story frame house located south of Blue Mountain Road in rural Frederick County, Maryland. The house is a side-gabled rectangular building constructed on a concrete block foundation. There is a front entry porch in the north façade. The porch roof is supported by four battered wood posts on brick piers. The north façade has three bays with symmetrical fenestration (central door). There is a rear one-story shed roof addition (enclosed porch) and an external gable end (west) concrete block chimney. The building has 1/1 double-hung sash windows and is clad by vinyl siding; the roof is clad by composition shingles. Continue reading
What would a long tourist weekend in Manhattan be without a few museums and walking tours? It’s hard to not mix work and play and after the first day spent in the New York Public Library’s manuscripts room, day two began with a trip to the Yeshiva University Museum to see the “It’s a Thin Line” eruv exhibit.
In February 2013 I got an email from the Jacquie Bokow, editor of the Northwood News. “Hey, Dave! Do you know anything about the property at 503 Dennis Avenue?,” Jacquie wrote. The property is in our old Maryland neighborhood and late last year signs were posted that the property was under subdivision review and that the early 20th century home there may be demolished.
The research I did on the 1939 World’s Fair Home and the neighborhood’s 1950′s cooperative subdivision included documentation on the pre-suburban properties prior to subdivision in the early 20th century. I wrote a brief article and sent it to Jacquie. It was published in the Northwood News in April 2013 and it is reprinted below along with additional illustrations not included in the printed version.
In February I was invited to write a guest post for the Tikkun Daily blog on the impacts of gentrification in Decatur, Ga. It bridges the posts I wrote last year for the National Council on Public History blog and the article I am completing for one of the American Sociological Association’s journals. The Tikkun post attracted comment writers who live in Decatur and whose comments underscored the points made in the post about the class/ethnic disconnect between older residents — “stayers” or “community anchors” — and later-stage gentrifiers who map their values of wealth and homeownership onto people who have different value systems and who measure wealth and attachment differently.
In the years bracketing the turn of the 20th century, Atlanta, Georgia’s periphery was filling in with residential subdivisions. The city’s development pattern was comparable to other regional cities, like Charlotte, North Carolina, and to cities farther north like Baltimore and Philadelphia. By 1900, many residential subdivisions had taken root along Atlanta’s spreading streetcar infrastructure. Some, like the Atlanta Suburban Land Company’s Kirkwood (in 1899), became incorporated towns.
Other subdivisions, like the land company’s East End and Poplar Springs subdivisions in what is now the heart of Decatur’s Oakhurst neighborhood, remained unincorporated DeKalb County until annexation by Decatur in 1915 and 1916. Continue reading
Earlier this week the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia blues musician Precious Bryant had died January 12 at age 71. I interviewed Bryant in 1990 for the defunct Atlanta alt-weekly Footnotes and I shot a roll of Plus-X of her performing at the 1990 North Georgia Folk Festival with one-armed harmonica player Neal Pattman (1926-2005).
Bryant, a Talbot County, Ga., native told me about how she learned to play guitar as a small child. “I learned the guitar when it was bigger than I was,” she said. “I was dragging it around; I couldn’t tote it.”
A versatile folk musician, Bryant was a regular at Georgia festivals. She also played festivals throughout the U.S. and in Europe. Blues was her first choice in music.
“I play the blues, but every now and then I throw a little rock ‘n’ roll in,” Bryant said in 1990. “I like the blues because it tells the truth. If there’s something you ain’t done, you are just going to end up doing it and so the songs just tell you the truth.”
Here are some of the photos I shot on sunny Saturday in Sandy Creek Park in October 1990.