Buckhead Heritage May 2020 Newsletter
Update on Buckhead Heritage Programs
by John Beach, President
Many Buckhead supporters interact with Buckhead Heritage through our educational programs, volunteer opportunities and fun social events. Over 1000 people attended Buckhead Heritage events in 2019, and almost 300 joined us through March 14, 2020 before we cancelled live events. Our next two events will be live online, and we hope you will join us remotely until it’s safe to congregate again. Unfortunately, we had to cancel our Spring History Tour scheduled for April 26. This popular annual fundraiser does not lend itself to a virtual format, and takes several months of planning; we will reschedule this fall if possible. We launched a No Tour For Sure campaign to try and partially offset the loss of one of our 2 annual fundraisers. If you are able to donate please consider helping Buckhead Heritage by clicking the logo to right..
There is a full slate of continuing preservation activities that our Executive Director and volunteers are working on, and we have lots of volunteer opportunities. Many members are surprised by the rich and varied local history they find on the Buckhead Heritage website, which includes over 200 pages, with information on over 700 places in Buckhead. No wonder we average over 3500 unique website visitors each month.
Speaker Series: Spalding Nix, History of Georgia Painters
May 5th – 7 pm Live Zoom Event with Spalding Nix
Free registration below
Spalding Nix will discuss the History of Georgia Painters, from colonial times onward, concentrating on 18th and 19th century artists and their subjects. Besides being an entertaining speaker, Spalding is a gallery owner, accredited art appraiser and advisor, attorney, and former Buckhead Heritage board member. Spalding will present his program online with slides, then answer questions from online attendees. You may join this meeting on a cell phone, tablet or computer.
May Book Club Meeting
May 13, 2020 7 pm – Live Zoom Event led by Richard Waterhouse
Free registration below
The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865 will be discussed. LeRoy Wiley Gresham was born in 1847 to an affluent slave-holding family in Macon, Georgia. After a horrific leg injury left him an invalid, the educated, inquisitive, perceptive, and exceptionally witty 12-year-old began keeping a diary in 1860–just as secession and the Civil War began tearing the country and his world apart. He continued to write even as his health deteriorated until both the war and his life ended in 1865. His unique manuscript of the demise of the Old South has been lauded by the Library of Congress as one of its premier holdings.
If you haven’t attended one of our bookclub mtgs before, this is a perfect opportunity to drop in online remotely. Bring your own wine and snacks.
New Hope Program Review
by Tamara Bazzle, Board Member and Cemetery Committee Chair
On March 4th over eighty people gathered on a rainy evening at New Hope AME Church on Arden Road to experience an important presentation by Matt Matternes, Ph.D. The first cases of COVID-19 had appeared in Fulton County just two days earlier, but on March 4, members of New Hope and Buckhead Heritage, as well as residents of the surrounding neighborhoods were focused on Dr. Matternes, Senior Mortuary Archaeologist and Physical Anthropologist with New South Associates in Stone Mountain.
Beginning in early December, 2019, Matt and his team studied New Hope Cemetery’s history, while inventorying and mapping its grave sites. It is widely known that New Hope AME Church sits on property bequeathed in 1872 by the Will of James H. “Whispering” Smith, who is buried nearby in Harmony Grove Cemetery, but that was not the case with the cemetery property, which was owned by Clark Howell until 1861.
Matt hopes that future research will illuminate the complete title history of that parcel. Public records disclosed that while the cemetery grounds were purchased by New Hope trustees in 1898, marked graves pre-date this purchase. There is evidence to suggest that burials were going on there as far back as the 1860’s, which might support the oral tradition that slaves are buried there. Further investigation is needed.
Matt identified over 330 burial sites, but experience tells him that the number could be significantly higher. 164 of the graves have formal markers; 54 have informal markers, and 115 are partially or unmarked potential gravesites. The names of 128 individuals were recorded. The last marked grave was that of Lizzie May White, who was interred in 2011 next to her husband, Arthur White, who had passed away almost 40 years earlier in 1973. Each grave was assigned an inventory number and, when available, the name, date of birth, date of death, marker style and material, and epitaph. Both head and foot markers were noted.
During his captivating presentation, Matt shared examples of the different styles of formal markers found in the cemetery: tablet, flush, obelisk, beveled, block and statue. Informal markers, which are often seen in folk cemeteries like this one, are primarily fieldstone, but other forms include furniture fop markers, metal pole markers (because of their association with running water), and funeral home spikes. Matt also showed photographs of existing plants that are often associated with cemeteries. Fascinating to many of the attendees was Matt’s introduction of the concrete artist Eldrin Bailey, an African American professional gravedigger, whose markers date from the 1930’s through the 1960’s. Often his markers were offered by funeral homes as part of a package that included the coffin, a service and the marker. New Hope contains over 60 of his markers!
Buckhead Heritage and New Hope AME Church are grateful for an article by Evelyn Andrews in the “Buckhead Reporter,” which garnered the attention of Dr. Joe Massey. Subsequently, the Massey Charitable Trust awarded a grant to Buckhead Heritage for Dr. Matternes’ work. The New Hope AME Cemetery now has certain protections awarded to official Georgia Archaeological Sites. Buckhead Heritage hopes to assist New Hope in raising additional funds for a ground penetrating radar study, as well as unobtrusive grave marking, a conservation plan, interpretive signage, directed historical studies and the capture of oral histories. Stay tuned!
City of Atlanta Resolution 20-R-3533
Passed Unanimously March 17, 2020
In March the Atlanta City Council officially recognized Buckhead Heritage as the caretaker of Mt Olive Cemetery on Pharr Road. The council had previously taken this action on Harmony Grove Cemetery on West Paces Ferry Rd. This resolution was the result of the efforts of board members Tamara Bazzle and Elon Osby, with help from Councilman Howard Shook and Sally Silver. Buckhead Heritage has been helping legally protect this cemetery and maintain it with help from Atlanta International School, Arbormedics and the community for a number of years.
WHEREAS, the Mt. Olive Cemetery is located at 431 Pharr Road, and has a total of at least 45 marked and unmarked burial sites: and
WHEREAS, the cemetery was established next to the Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the church was formed by newly freed slaves and existed as early as 1870; and
WHEREAS, in 1921, developer John Owens laid out a formal subdivision called Macedonia Park for the African American residents who established neighborhood businesses, worked on the nearby farms or performed domestic service for Buckhead’s affluent white residents; and
WHEREAS, Macedonia Park eventually became a thriving community with over 400 residents, three churches, two grocery stores, barber shops and restaurants; and
WHEREAS, between 1945 and 1953, Fulton County acquired all the homes in Macedonia Park through coercive negotiation or eminent domain to make way for a public park, which was originally called Bagley Park and is now called Frankie Allen Park; and
WHEREAS, the Mt. Olive Cemetery, which contains the graves of residents of Macedonia Park and worshipers at Mt. Olive AME Church, is the only remaining physical evidence of the community of Macedonia Park; and
WHEREAS, in 2005, TRC Garrow Associates, Inc., delineated the boundaries of the cemetery and conducted an archaeological investigation utilizing ground-penetrating radar identifying 45 features that represent graves; and
WHEREAS, on October 29, 2010 Fulton County Superior Court found no disputed question of material fact that the cemetery, which served the surrounding African American communities, was dedicated for public use; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 36-72-3, the City of Atlanta has the authority to designate an organization to care for a cemetery that is not being maintained by the person(s) legally responsible for its upkeep; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA that the City acknowledges that the Buckhead Heritage Society has been and intends to continue to maintain, clean and cut the grass, and prune the shrubs and trees located in the historically significant Mt. Olive Cemetery on a volunteer basis, and intends to continue providing landscaping and other such services.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City’s acknowledgement and participation with respect to this effort shall be at no cost to the City.
Popular Peachtree Heights East Walking Tour
Event will be Repeated June 6, Covid-19 Allowing
by Richard Waterhouse, Executive Director
Buckhead Heritage led about 70 people for a Peachtree Heights East Walking History Tour on March 14th, our last physical event before Coronavirus. See the end of this article for more information about repeat scheduling.
The tour began at the historical marker located at the corner of Potomac Street and Lakeview Avenue by the Duck Pond. Organized and led by Buckhead Heritage Executive Director Richard Waterhouse and Caleb Brown, who were joined by historical Buckhead character Eretus Rivers, aka Ed Daniels.
The tour included many fascinating stories about the oldest planned neighborhood in Buckhead. On June 19, 1909, initial lots were auctioned for the first planned neighborhood in what is now known as Peachtree Heights East. Designed by the New York firm of Carrere and Hastings, the neighborhood was nestled between Peachtree Street on the west, Brookwood Drive on the east, and between Mayson Avenue (now Lindbergh Drive) after aviator Charles Lindbergh on the south and East Wesley on the north. In 1920, the eastern boundary was extended to Acorn Avenue.
Over 2,000 people attended the auction and Eretus Rivers and Frank C. Owens sold 82 lots for a total of $171,000. Special cars were run to the park for the purpose of accommodating those who wished to bid and watch others bid. In order that no one might have to return to the city for lunch, Eretus had generously provided it.
With approximately 330 homes within this unique neighborhood, Peachtree Heights East house styles range from early 20th century American two story four-square, Craftsman Bungalow, Cape Cod, Tudor Revival, Mission Revival, and Ranch to 21st century home styles. We will see examples of several of those. Several early homes were built from Sears and Roebuck “kits” (we will point one out on the tour) and many original homebuilders were family members who built two homes with a shared driveway.
At 2525 Potomac Street, which is no longer there, Flannery O’Connor lived for over year. Her father, Ed O’Connor lived in the house from 1938 to 1940, when he took a job at the Federal Housing Authority. Flannery attended North Fulton High School, her first public school experience. Her aunts and uncles were very involved early on with Christ the King Catholic Church in 1936. However, she and her mother did not like city life so they moved back to Milledgeville in 1939. Flannery’s father, meanwhile, was diagnosed with lupus and died in 1941.
The home of Hamilton Douglas, Jr. and later the home of Bill Bell who wrote the History of Peachtree Heights East that we are using for our research of this tour was located at 120 Lakeview Avenue, built in 1924. Mr. Douglas, Jr. wrote the bylaws for the organization that has evolved into the Peachtree Heights East Neighborhood Association. His distinguished career included being selected as one of the “five attorneys of unquestioned ability and integrity” to investigate corruption in the administration of Governor Marvin Griffin.
His sister, Ellen Douglas Mankin, live next door. She was the first woman from this state ever elected to the House of Representatives. Mankin defeated 17 other candidates, all male. Although she won the popular vote for re-election in 1948, she lost the election based on county unit votes. This result helped convince the leaders of Atlanta to launch an all-out attack on the county unit system. The resulting 15-year legal battle, in which her brother, Hamilton Douglas, Jr., coordinated, led to the eventual overthrow of the system.
The original home of Harriet P. Laing (1845-1925), house no longer there, was located at 179 Lakeview Avenue. Original house was completed by 1910 and was a Mediterranean revival style art bungalow with a mission style tower. She bought lot 25 in Block 4 of Peachtree Heights East for $880, she took out a mortgage with the developer Frank C. Owens. The terms were $220 down with the remainder payable in installments of $110 every six months at an interest rate of six per cent.
She lived here for six years. She was no stranger to Atlanta. She owned a boarding house at 86 South Pryor Street in 1896 and two years later she operated another boarding house at 15 Houston Street, now John Wesley Dobbs Avenue. By 1898 she had become manager of the Saint Bonaventure Hotel, where she remained until 1901.
The home of Joseph and Nell Winship was located at 2626 Brookwood Drive. It is a two-story Tudor Revival-style residence built in 1925 and designed by Atlanta architectural firm of Burge and Steven, which had been founded in 1919 by recent graduates of Georgia Tech – Flippen Burge and Preston Stevens. The Winship House was one of the earliest commissions. The property’s grounds were originally designed by William C. Pauley, one of Atlanta’s first trained landscape architects. Little of his work remains intact. Property was originally 18 acres but now only one acre.
171 Peachtree Way was the Home of Emily Irby Winship (1884-1968) and George Winship, Jr. (1884-1956). George Winship, Jr. was a prominent Atlanta business man. He was active in civic and educational affairs. He was Vice President of the Fulton Supply Company and Director of The Atlanta Gas Light Company and Director of the Fulton National Bank of Atlanta. For over seven decades the Winship Homes graced the large two-acre lots surrounded by Brookwood Drive, Winslow Way, and Peachtree Way. In 1989 and 1990, the lots were divided and new homes now surround those of the Winships. The original Winship structures escaped destruction through the efforts of the neighborhood association and the developers in reaching a compromise for the land use.
In 1957, Susan Hayward married Eaton Chalkley. He was a Georgia rancher and businessman who had worked as a federal agent. Although he was an unusual husband for a Hollywood movie star, the marriage was a happy one. She lived with him on a farm near Carrollton, Georgia and also had this house at 152 Peachtree Way. Her son attended Christ the King Catholic School. A long-time resident of Peachtree Heights East remembers seeing her arrive and leave in a very large black Cadillac with tinted windows so nobody could see the movie star. Chalkley died on January 9, 1966. Hayward went into mourning and did little acting for several years. She took up residence in Florida, because she preferred not to live in her Georgia homes without her husband. She died in 1975 and is buried in Carrolton.
While the Duck Pond did not exist when Mr. Rivers initially sold lots, the minutes of the Peachtree Heights Community Club in 1922 gives credit to two residents for building the “lake” and beautifying the area. They were “Henry G. and Nettie Jacobs lived at what was then 1 Potomac Avenue and Nat and Charlotte Sage lived at what is now 115 Lakewood Avenue.”
While Una Rivers provided the neighborhood with a treasured asset, her gift did not include an endowment to maintain the duck pond park. The Peachtree Heights East Neighborhood Association (originally the Peachtree Heights Civic Club) has supported and maintained the park for over 110 years through annual dues, fundraising and volunteer work days. Also, the Ladies of Lake Garden Club are very active with the duck pond and do fundraising as well.
At 2612 Parkside Drive, this house was designed by the famous architect Neel Reid (October 23, 1885 – February 14, 1926). It was built in 1912 for the S.C. Porter family. Mrs Porter was part of the firm Porter & Porter, interior decorators. Reid was born in Jacksonville, Alabama, in 1885. He moved to Macon, Georgia with his family in 1890. After an apprenticeship with architect Curran Ellis, Reid moved to Atlanta to continue his career at the suggestion of his mentor. Reid specialized in fine residential structures but also designed the 1908 Southern Railway passenger station (now Amtrak) and the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Oakhurst.
The great thing about research is that you are always discovering new things and bringing folks back to life again. It reminds us that in the Mexican culture, they believe that each of us die three deaths: when our bodies stop functioning, when our mortal remains are laid to rest, and final death occurs the last time someone speaks our name. By sharing stories about the distinguished residents of Peachtree Heights East we continue their lives.
This event was originally developed by Buckhead Heritage for the Atlanta Preservation Center’s annual Phoenix Flies Series. Richard Waterhouse will lead this tour monthly starting June 6, 2020 in partnership with Buckhead Heritage and .Atlanta Preservation Center.
Buckhead Reporter Interview on Pandemics
The Reporter Newspapers interviewed Dr. Ann Beach and Buckhead Heritage president John Beach in mid March about coronavirus just as it was about to impact us. They discussed history lessons from the last Buckhead Pandemic in 1918 and some of our challenges today.
Welcome Rick Woodward III to Buckhead Heritage Board
Rick is an Atlanta native who grew up in Buckhead and lives in the Historic Brookhaven area. Rick attended Garden Hills and Tuxedo Elementary Schools, and Dykes High School. He then majored in history at Washington and Lee University, and worked in the insurance industry in New York and Washington before returning to Atlanta. Rick recently retired from Regions Insurance, where he was Director of Risk Management Services. Rick has been on the Board of Trustees of Canterbury Court for 9 years, and leads an usher team at All Saints Episcopal Church. Rick has a lifelong interest in history, and the early history of the Atlanta area. Welcome!
Buckhead Heritage is a volunteer run group and can always utilize a variety of skills, including folks to help at events, cemetery cleanups, and on several preservation projects that could use research, committee and leadership help. If you’ve like to have some fun, learn something while helping the community, and meet some neighbors then we’d love to talk to you. Please contact Richard at the office.
2020 Board & Staff
John Beach – President
Fay Pearce, Jr. – Vice President
Michael D. Armstrong – Treasurer
Howard C. Benson – Secretary
Board of Directors
Ivan Allen IV
Elizabeth Morgan Spiegel
Rick Woodward III
Tamara A. Bazzle
Robert F. Helget
Edward L. Daugherty, FASLA
Frances H. Westbrook
Buckhead Heritage Society
3180 Mathieson Drive, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30305