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
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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.
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Talk to anyone who lived in South Decatur in the years between 1950 and 1990 and they’ll find some way to tell you about the old hardware store at 707 East Lake Drive. Now the storefront space at the corner of East Lake Drive and Oakview Road is where Kavarna serves coffee, sandwiches, and evening music. It’s a familiar Oakhurst third place, an informal public space that is neither work nor home: Friends chat there; students study and drink coffee; WiFi loafers surf the Web; and, its tables are where local business people and government officials hold court with constituents, clients, and partners.
Kavarna oozes hipness. Body art competes with posters and changing artwork on the walls; wine is served alongside lattes; and, there always seems to be people there. In pleasant weather, outdoor seating extends Kavarna’s private space onto the sidewalk and smokers can take advantage of chairs and an ashtray strategically located near one of the doors.
Kavarna, November 2012.
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No one will ever confuse Decatur’s Oakhurst neighborhood’s faux Prairies and historically inspired foursquares with nearby Druid Hills and its genuine historic homes and mature cultural landscapes. Nor will anyone compare Oakhurst’s socially engineered and revitalized business district with Atlanta’s Midtown or Buckhead. Decatur is a wannabe city: It wants its own identity as a small city while also pursuing big-city aspirations. Sustainability, bike-friendly, diversity, walkability, pub-shed, and local all are Decatur’s buzzwords du jour connecting the city to Creative Class ideals. Hipness and all of its accoutrements define Decatur’s consumer culture and its creative class (real and imagined), especially in rapidly gentrifying Oakhurst. Continue reading
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After World War II ended, veterans like Atlanta’s Hardy F. Luke returned home and spurred a commercial and residential building bonanza that created new communities for the baby boom. Subdivisions and entire communities, like the Levittowns, sprouted throughout the United States. In the months and years after the war, new homes and suburban landscapes appeared throughout the Atlanta metropolitan region.
With access to roads and a car line into Atlanta, Decatur’s southwestern quadrant gained new houses and new people. Most of the development was on a scale much smaller and less ambitious than the pre-war Edgemoor subdivision that envisioned dozens of new homes in its tract comprising 38 acres in the Third Avenue and East Lake Drive area. Builders like the Campbell Coal Company and individuals constructed small vernacular and ranch homes throughout South Decatur and nearby unincorporated DeKalb County. Some of the builders, including Campbell Coal, provided financing for many of the new owners. Continue reading
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Developers paid better than the corn / But this was not the place where they were born — John Gorka, “Houses in the Fields” (Jacks Crows, 1991)
After the fall of 2011, each time I passed through the intersection of Ansley Street and Greenwood Avenue in Decatur’s Oakhurst neighborhood, Neil Young’s song title immediately popped into my head, along with the lyrics from two tunes on John Gorka’s 1991 album, Jack’s Crows. On the hill overlooking the intersection is Liz and Rob Broadfoot’s 2,800-square-foot home. Its historically inspired projecting bays and exaggerated Craftsman details look out over Oakhurst’s smaller homes conveying an air of conspicuous consumption and privilege.
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More than half a century before Decatur Realtor Stacy Reno’s 2011 meltdown on Twitter and in local blogs over her backyard chickens, goats, and turkeys, another Decatur woman provided neighbors a necessary fowl service. “I think she was the only one in our neighborhood that would actually wring their necks and sometimes they would bring her one and ask her to kill it for them,” recalled Betty Barrett Small of her mother, Annie Elo Barrett’s skill at killing neighborhood chickens.
Turn of the 20th century urban chickens being kept on the grounds of the U.S. Soldiers’ Home in Washington, D.C. Credit: National Archives and Records Administration.
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With corporate roots in the 1920s, Decatur Federal Savings and Loan Association was chartered in 1956. Its highrise headquarters at 250 East Ponce de Leon Avenue in downtown Decatur, Georgia, is a prominent visual landmark that provides the eastern bookend to the city’s business district. Continue reading
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The Decatur City Commission unanimously voted July 2, 2012, to allocate $1.3 million for consultants Rutledge Alcock Architects to prepare construction documents for redevelopment of the former Beacon and Trinity schools. The proposed project ultimately will cost $25 million.
Decatur Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon’s June 28, 2012 staff report on allocating funds for the Beacon redevelopment project.
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The City of Decatur, Georgia, is on a fast-track to redevelop a historic African American school site. Plans include demolition of parts of the former Beacon Elementary School and Trinity High School to make way for new public facilities.
An isolated historical marker outside the former African American school describes Decatur’s Beacon Community. Photo by author, February 2012.
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