the histories of our streets

Georgia State University students map Atlanta's past

Category: Section 6 (south/east)

Allen Temple AME

Illustration of Allen Temple AME Original Building

Originally established in 1866, 3 years after emancipation, the Allen Temple AME was located at the corner of Solomon and Fraser which is now still mostly residential. The other side of the street was turned into a parking lot, but this small block survived. This historic congregation serves as a lasting example to what the Summerhill neighborhood looked like before the construction of the highways. This congregation reflected and served the mostly black neighborhood that it was embedded in. The church expanded extensively while in the Summerhill neighborhood and bought property on Fraser Street. With this newly acquired property the congregation built a building costing $75,000 used as an educational building. The church also faced financial burdens in 1948 with a debt of $35,000 that was quickly paid off under the new leadership. Between 1956 and 1965 the congregation was tasked with the responsibility of relocation. The new parsonage and educational building was constructed first with the main sanctuary following shortly after. In 1969 the Allen Temple apartments valued at $6,000,000 were completed and provided housing for those in the surrounding community. The Allen Temple AME’s history is not without complication, there have been cases of division amongst the congregation over speakers invited. Despite the hardship the church has faced throughout the years, the congregation celebrated its 153 year anniversary this year. Though it relocated to Joseph E. Boone in 1956, the congregation still gives attention to their roots in the Summerhill neighborhood.1 

Sanborn Map of The Area at the Time.

The Allen Temple AME hosted many gatherings such as gospel concerts, conferences, birthday celebrations, and hosted revivals for visiting preachers. They even hosted a celebration in remembrance of president Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 18992. When it comes to the political activism that the church served we see examples of black activists visiting the church to make speeches. One example of this is Reverend W.D. Johnson who delivered a message to Negro Young People’s Christian and Educational Congress in 1902.3 Many political activists found their roots in churches such as Allen Temple AME which allowed for leaders to rally a congregation behind a cause. The church also served as an outreach to help the community and facilitated many charity events including the construction of housing for community members, advancement of education, as well as raising money for various causes.

Many black neighborhoods such as Summerhill were centered around the local church. Churches such as Allen Temple AME was much more than just a church, it served as a safe haven for the black community to escape the hardships of the time. In the height of the Jim Crow south the church allowed for the freedom of cultural and religious expression which is something that was suppressed by centuries of slavery. Allen Temple AME and other African American churches paved the way for avenues of religious expressions that we see today. Though the church was relocated for unknown reasons but the church still stands on the same principles as when it was established.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/Uuvx6TudkECjkbCp9

  1. “About Us,” Allen Temple AMEC, accessed April 8, 2024, https://www.allentempleatlanta.org/about-us.
    ↩︎
  2. “The Birthday Of Lincoln,” The Atlanta Constitution , February 4, 1899. ↩︎
  3. “Johnson Speaks Tomorrow ,” The Atlanta Constitution , August 16, 1902. ↩︎

The Summerhill School

Sketch of the original school house off Martin Street.

Built in 1869, Summerhill School was once the oldest operating school in Atlanta. Though the title would eventually be taken from Summerhill to be shared with three other White schools in 1872 when the Atlanta Public School System purchased the school (for whatever reason the three years it operated before its purchase no longer mattered). It served an almost entirely African-American community in the South Atlanta neighborhood of Summerhill. While parts of Summerhill would be mixed throughout history the school was entirely for the Black children in the communinty.1 Though a segregated, all Black school, it would not be until after 1887 when Black educators and administrators would be able to work at the school and serve their community as well. This was attributed to the continued success of the Black university system the had developed in Atlanta after the Civil War by such people as W.E.B. de Bois and Booker T. Washington and their many contemporaries.2

As the neighborhood grew and the opportunity for the children of Summerhill to receive an education grew with it was becoming obvious that expansion was going to be necessary. In the 1920’s the city commissioned roughly $40,000 to demolish and rebuild a new school on the existing lot due to increased overcrowding. The new school would still be amicably referred to as the Summerhill school even though it would be renamed the E. P. Johnson school after the successful and renowned pastor from the community, Reverend Edwin Posey Johnson.3

Sandborn map from 1899 showing the old Summerhill School to the West.

As seen above this section of the Summerhill neighborhood was still developing and much of the surrounding lots were either undeveloped or de facto parks. But as seen in the image below just more than 30 years later, in 1932, much of the empty spaces surrounding the school. Which at this time had been rebuilt as the E.P. Johnson school.

Sandborn map from 1932 shows the increased development of the Summerhill neighborhood.

Above shows the neighborhood as it is now. The school would eventually move into disuse and would eventually be demolished by in the 1980’s. Where, as stated above, the neighborhood would build over the old lot beginning in the late 1980’s but mostly during the 1990’s with the boom associated with the Olympics.

  1. KGuestH, “Eternally Forgotten Atlanta Public Schools – Pt. 3 – The First schools for African-American students”,Atlanta’s Past Revisited, https://atlantaspastrevisited.com/2017/05/18/eternally-forgotten-atlanta-public-schools-pt-3-the-first-schools-for-african-american-students/ ↩︎
  2. “COLORED TEACHERS TO HAVE: A CHANCE TO APPLY FOR TEACHERS POSITIONS IN THE SUMMER HILL SCHOOL.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jun 18, 1887. https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/colored-teachers-have/docview/495095259/se-2. ↩︎
  3. KGuestH, “Eternally Forgotten Atlanta Public Schools – Pt. 3 – The First schools for African-American students”,Atlanta’s Past Revisited, https://atlantaspastrevisited.com/2017/05/18/eternally-forgotten-atlanta-public-schools-pt-3-the-first-schools-for-african-american-students/ ↩︎

Southeast Section (6): Streets, Stadiums, and Segregation turn a community to a parking lot

The area that is now the “orange lot” directly North of Publix Summerhill has been a face of change throughout the city’s development. In 1898 and 1899 the surrounding streets were Capitol Ave. (S), Fulton St. (N), Frazer St. (W), and Richardson St. (E), and the area was primarily residential. The street names have largely remained the same with Frazer becoming Fraser by 1925 and Capitol Ave. being renamed Hank Aaron in the 1990’s. 1914 and 1898 directories indicate that the area was a mixed-race residential area with several names marked (c) indicative of the Jim Crow Era and had several vacancies.

The MacGregor Institute considered a “south side” school at the time of its opening in 1897, was located at 223 Capitol Avenue in the stretch between Fulton St. and Richardson St. It was founded by established educators Clementine and Margaret MacGregor, the grand opening in the Black residential area was of high anticipation and success. Macgregor was a private all-girls institute that originally offered primary courses in science, literature, and art. By 1899 the school was under expansion and soon reopening with boarding and “primary, preparatory, academic, and collegiate departments”. The institute was seemingly successful into the early 1900’s yet little information exists on it after this point, there was perhaps another institute that began offering such educational services or rezoning that would have made Macgregor unnecessary.

The block was originally on streetcar lines which provided access to the city for residents early on yet came with grim indications – Atlanta’s patterns of new development run on old lines fostering new forms of transport-based discrimination. By the1960’s this community was mostly displaced by the downtown connector. In the 1970’s the incoming Stadium next door meant all residents of this block were displaced as it was fully demolished and became a parking lot. As a parking lot the area has been used as parking for Atlanta-Fulton-County Stadium, the 1996 Olympics, the Braves, Turner Field, and now is owned by Georgia State for what has been rebranded Center-Park Stadium. Residents of still-residential areas continued to protest against further infrastructure through the Olympic Games and Braves Residence in Summerhill to no avail. Today the parking lot serves as a buffer with an expansive parking lot, stadium, and stores to the west and south, an interstate to the north, and a highly gentrified residential area directly to the east.

Besides MacGregor traceable change with the block happened through Sanborn maps from 1899 -1911 with multiple units, presumably houses, being built and the addition of a short-lived lumber yard. In the 1930s the area remained residential, to the southwest it was neighbored by Piedmont Hospital, by the 1950s the institution was relocated and plans for interstates and stadiums were underway. Into the late 20th century the area, as a part of Summerhill, faced ongoing issues of segregation, racial tensions, and financial immobility. Issues of redlining and exclusionary infrastructure continued as property values dropped and vacancies increased. Nearby white churches refused integration, and crime and poverty for residents lingered. 

Citations:

MACGREGOR INSTITUTE.: New School on the South Side. The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945); Aug 28, 1897; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Atlanta Constitution pg. 5 https://www.proquest.com/hnpatlantaconstitution2/docview/495420311/70BD8DBE1B29444APQ/3?accountid=11226&sourcetype=Historical%20Newspapers

MACGREGOR INSTITUTE: Adds Boarding Department–Has Enlarged Plans. The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945); Jun 18, 1899; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Atlanta Constitution pg. 5 https://www.proquest.com/hnpatlantaconstitution2/docview/495509374/70BD8DBE1B29444APQ/2?accountid=11226&sourcetype=Historical%20Newspapers

1895-1962 SanBorn Maps. https://digitalsanbornmaps-proquest-com.eu1.proxy.openathens.net/about?accountid=11226

Atlanta SanBorn Maps. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1YltjCdEEE5CgPDvVDiRMeN7oFhEAu_Q&ll=33.761769057084855%2C-84.37966668364004&z=12

1898/1914 Atlanta City Directory Co.’s Greater Atlanta Directory, , Emory University https://archive.org/details/atlantacitydirec1898vvbu/page/148/mode/2up

Highway Interchange Southeast Section

Southeast the heart of Georgia, stands an abandoned building that was once a grand hotel, now iron fencing surrounds it indicating the restricted area. A ‘For Sale’ sign sits in front waiting for a buyer that may never come, evoking a sense of loss and history that led to its current state. Observations on the Google Maps Street View photos reveals the hotel at one point was a Holiday Inn, but now remains as an empty shell in the bustling cityscape of Atlanta. It also appears that hotel is not the only infrastructure on this lot, but attached to it is a storage facility or a covered parking lot of some sort.

Atlanta, 1895. AFPL_M0039a, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Digital Collection, Georgia State University. https://digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu/digital/collection/afpl/id/25/rec/4

From what I could find, in 1895 to 1911, and probably longer, the lot which the hotel lies on was Southwest of the Gulch, the elevated viaduct area which served as Atlanta’s original commercial hub.1 North of the Gulch was where the city’s original residential growth took place.2 Today, it is directly located Southeast of the highway interchange. During this time, the lot housed less then 20 dwellings, a church, and a wood yard. In 1895, north of this lot lied Clarke Street, south lied Fulton Street, west lied Windsor Street, and east lied Cooper Street. Just in 16 years, 1911, the streets to the west and east changed, respectively to Capitol Avenue and Fraser Street. Now, north of the lot lies the entrance to I-20 E, south lies Fulton Street SE, west lies Capitol Avenue SE, and east lies Fraser Street SE. The streets and avenue surrounding the lot are bustling with cars every day, while the quieter, less heavy, street on east provides parking for local visitors and residents of the area.

Yellow & D= Dwelling, Pink= Brick building with brick or metal cornice.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. Sanborn Map Company,; Vol.4, 1911. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn01378_009/.

During the 1950s, the time of urban renewal, this lot was at the cusp of the Rawson Street. By 1960, the third renewal area to start its project and was granted $709,300 which was based on the progress in land acquisition within the Rawson-Washington Street project area.3 Something interesting to note during the period of urban renewal, was the differences in perspectives which I found to be the similar case to the issues and opinions of today. Rather than seeing the issues of urban renewal projects in the past, we are experiencing the adverse effects of gentrification. An article from 1965, discussed the perspectives on whether urban renewal is good or bad. The article stated the positive of clearing bad slums, but also addressed the negatives, one was that the Atlanta Housing Authority was responsible for relocating people displaces by urban renewal but figures showed that 4,166 families and individuals were displaced, while 3,111 were relocated to “some form of standard housing.”4 One opinion found the Rawson-Washington renewal to function as “cleaning out acres of land and letting them lie there,” another similar idea was that most slum areas in Atlanta were essentially waiting to be cleared of housing but lacked the solution to displacement.5 In the end the main perspective is that there are not far enough decent affordable places “to raise a child or live a life.”6

  1. https://www.wabe.org/gulch-past/ ↩︎
  2. https://www.wabe.org/gulch-past/ ↩︎
  3. $709,300 Granted To Rawson Project, The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984); Nov 23, 1960; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Atlanta Constitution pg. 10. ↩︎
  4. Is Renewal Good or Bad? The Argument Goes On. Simmons, Ted;REMER TYSON The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984); Jul 29, 1965; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Atlanta Constitution pg. 1 ↩︎
  5. Is Renewal Good or Bad? The Argument Goes On. Simmons, Ted;REMER TYSON The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984); Jul 29, 1965; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Atlanta Constitution pg. 1 ↩︎
  6. Is Renewal Good or Bad? The Argument Goes On. Simmons, Ted;REMER TYSON The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984); Jul 29, 1965; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Atlanta Constitution pg. 1 ↩︎
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