Dec 6, 2022 - News

Atlanta renames park for former Black community in Buckhead

William Bagley

William Bagley. Credit: Buckhead Heritage Society

An Atlanta park has been renamed to honor a former Black community along present-day Pharr Road in Buckhead.

Driving the news: Mayor Andre Dickens recently signed legislation introduced by Council member Howard Shook to rename Frankie Allen Park to Bagley Park.

  • The athletic fields at the park will retain the Frankie Allen name.

Why it matters: The renaming reinstates the name of the community where formerly enslaved Black people settled in the 1870s and at its peak was home to around 400 families, the Buckhead Heritage Society said in a press release.

Flashback: In 1929, William Bagley purchased six lots at what is now the park after he was driven from his Forsyth County farm during the infamous removal of Black people in 1912, according to the society.

  • While a developer wanted to formally name the area Macedonia Park, it became known as Bagley Park to locals, the society said.
  • It was home to a grocery store, restaurant, a blacksmith and several churches, including Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church and its cemetery.
  • Many people who lived in the community were employed as gardeners at local golf clubs, caddies, truck drivers, shoe shiners, nurses and cotton mill workers, the society said.

What happened to this community? After receiving complaints from nearby white residents, Fulton County in the 1940s condemned the area and used eminent domain to remove Black residents from their homes.

  • The county in 1952 opened a park and named it after Bagley.
  • However, in 1980, the city of Atlanta renamed it for Frankie Allen, a Buckhead Baseball umpire and volunteer.

Yes, and: Buckhead Heritage Society in 2010 filed a lawsuit to prevent a developer from removing the Mt. Olive Cemetery, which is the only clue in the area that the community existed.

  • It is now responsible for the cemetery's maintenance.

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