Apr 27, 2022 - News

Preservationists work to save Atlanta's historic English Avenue church

A group of people stand in the middle of a historic stone structure with no windows or a roof

Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Preservation Center

One of English Avenue’s most interesting buildings — a four-walled stone structure missing windows and its roof but filled with potential for the historically Black community — could soon be protected from demolition.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission will decide whether to award historic protections to the Old St. Mark AME Church on James P. Brawley Drive.

Why it matters: Neighborhoods experiencing rapid gentrification like English Avenue and Vine City are particularly at risk of losing the homes, churches and other buildings that played special roles in communities’ histories.

Catch up quick: Designed by architect Charles Hopson and built in 1920 with Stone Mountain granite “fitted together by hand like a puzzle with beaded mortar joints,” the building played an important role in English Avenue residents’ religious, civic and social lives over the decades.

  • St. Mark AME moved into the building — originally the home of the Western Heights Baptist Church — in 1948. The stone structure hosted graduation ceremonies for high schoolers and entertainment like womanless weddings and Tom Thumb weddings.

The church moved to Campbellton Road in the late 1970s, and in the mid-1990s Winston Taylor, a pastor and architect, bought the site. Taylor partnered with the Atlanta Preservation Center to seek historic designation status to protect the building from demolition.

What's next: Taylor is working with Georgia Tech students to design a glass roof for the structure, he told the Saporta Report, and he hopes the historic designation will help raise funding.

Editor's note: We corrected the name of the street where the historic building is located to James P. Brawley Drive.


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