ATLVault: Atlanta Constitution building, Buckhead cemetery named in peril

Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation releases 2024 list of Places in Peril.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 2:53 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The old offices where legendary Atlanta newspapermen like Ralph McGill toiled, and a long-forgotten African-American burial ground in the heart of Buckhead have been listed as places in peril by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

Each year, the trust releases a list of 10 places in peril throughout the state, a list the organization hopes will raise awareness about Georgia’s historic, archaeological and cultural resources that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or poor public policy.

“This is the Trust’s nineteenth annual Places in Peril list,” said W. Wright Mitchell, president and CEO of the trust. “We hope the list will continue to bring preservation solutions to Georgia’s imperiled historic resources by highlighting 10 representative sites.”

Known as “The Heart of Atlanta” because of its proximity to downtown Atlanta’s historic railroad junction, the Atlanta Constitution building has been home to two iconic Georgia institutions. Constructed in 1947, the building was home to the Atlanta Constitution newspaper during Ralph McGill’s term as editor. When the Atlanta Journal and Constitution consolidated and moved out of the building in 1955, Georgia Power occupied the building until 1972. It has been vacant ever since.

The building has withstood previous proposals for demolition, while recent efforts toward redevelopment have yet to materialize.

Piney Grove Cemetery is an historic African-American burial ground in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. The cemetery’s founding dates to the 1800s and has over 300 burials, some of which are believed to be burials for enslaved individuals.

The cemetery has unique characteristics including irregular burial patterns, a variety of hewn and native gravestones and terraced landscaping. It also contains numerous unmarked burials, and is one of the last vestiges of the several African American communities that once thrived in the area including Piney Grove, Lynwood Park, Bagley Park, Johnsontown and Armour.

In the early 2000s, the trust said a residential developer acquired the property and sought to remove the cemetery to develop the land. After opposition by the descendants, the land was sold to a commercial developer with conditions for access and maintenance as part of city of Atlanta zoning conditions. Ultimately, a condominium complex was built adjacent to the cemetery.

The other eight places listed on the trust’s 2024 list of places in peril are the Broad Avenue Elementary in Albany (Dougherty County); Cedar Grove in Martinez (Columbia County); Church of the Good Shepherd in Thomasville (Thomas County); Grace Baptist Church in Darien (McIntosh County); Hogg Hummock on Sapelo Island (McIntosh County); Old First Baptist Church in Augusta (Richmond County); Pine Log Mountain (Bartow County); and Sugar Valley Consolidated School in Sugar Valley (Gordon County).

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