Antioch’s eyes (Updated)

Antioch. They call it Hibernia now but it was on Atlanta Avenue. I watched my neighbors sell ice cream, fish sandwiches, having teas and dinners, sacrificing to buy the windows and to buy the bricks. I mean they were doing labors of love, you know, and trying to pass it on to the next generation. And when I pass by the building now, it almost breaks my heart because they were working the sweat of their brows, trying to establish a place for this generation. — Sarah Kirk, March 2012.

Former Antioch church facade, Jan. 2014.

Former Antioch church facade, Jan. 2014.

Sarah Kirk¹ recently drove by an abandoned brick church north of Hibernia Ave. in Decatur, Ga. The 75-year-old Decatur native had heard that the property had been sold. Built for the congregation in which her family had worshipped since the last decades of the nineteenth century, she was struck by the gutted edifice. The building’s last congregation, Decatur United Church of Christ, had acquired the property from Antioch AME Church, one of Decatur’s oldest African American religious institutions.

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The fellmonger’s office

Wool pulling. Credit: Rudolf A. Clemen, By-Products in the Packing Industry (1927).

Wool pulling. Credit: Rudolf A. Clemen, By-Products in the Packing Industry (1927).

Fellmongers disappeared from the American industrial landscape in the last century. They were specialized meat and leather industry byproducts dealers who also prepared skins and leather from lamb pelts removed in slaughterhouses. In 2000, the last American fellmongers processed a batch of wool inside the Pittsburgh Wool Company. The exercise was captured in a documentary film produced for the Pittsburgh History Center and was documented in reports I prepared for the History Center and for the National Park Service (now in the Library of Congress: HAER No. PA-572).

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James Callery’s Duquesne tannery (right) shortly after it was built. It later became the Pittsburgh Wool Company. The site on the Allegheny River north shore had tanneries and wool pulleries there continuously from the 1830s through 2000.

Pittsburgh Wool Company facade, 1996. Photo by author.

Pittsburgh Wool Company facade, 1996. Photo by author.

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Redlining Atlanta: the 1935 map

Atlanta redlining map legend.

Atlanta redlining map legend.

The Federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) was established in 1933 to stabilize the housing market by providing relief to distressed homeowners. The new entity was charged with examining residential stability. Urban area maps were produced that divided neighborhoods by mortgage lending risk. The best — safest — neighborhoods were color-coded and given letter grades. Those ranked lowest were color-coded red: “redlining.”

The National Archives has digitized a small sample of the surviving redline maps. These include Birmingham, Alabama; Miami, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Providence, Rhode Island; Richmond, Virginia; Salt Lake City, Utah; Syracuse, New York; and Waterbury, Connecticut. Other repositories, e.g., in Ohio and Pennsylvania, also have digitized maps in their states.

The Archives also digitized the Atlanta map. It was delineated on a basemap drawn in 1931 and it includes Decatur and Avondale Estates. The Atlanta map’s HOLC annotation reads:

This map, prepared by Alec C. Morgan, Field Agent, represents the composite opinions of Adams-Gates Company, Draper-Owens Company, both Atlanta realtors, and H.O.L.C. State Appraiser, John L. Conyers. The individual areas were checked by H.O.L.C. appraisers who were familiar with same.

Click on the embedded image below for a larger version. The NARA site has a zoomable version as well as a PDF.

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Redline Map for Greater Atlanta, Georgia, ca. 1935. National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 195: Records of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, 1933 – 1989.

Be sure the check out the historical summaries at the NARA site as well as the Ohio and Pennsylvania ones.

 © 2014 D.S. Rotenstein.

 

Tabby Thomas, 1929-2014

NPR this morning reported that Ernest Joseph Thomas — Tabby Thomas — died yesterday. He was 84 years old. Tabby Thomas was a quintessential Louisiana blueser and one hell of an interesting guy.

There’s no need to rehash the obits popping up across the Interwebs to celebrate Tabby’s life. Instead, I’d like to revisit the night of June 25, 1991. My interview with Tabby was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer July 20, 1991. It was my first Inquirer byline.

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