Category Archive: Our Neighborhood

Be Our Neighbor!

There is a beautiful bungalow down the street from us that just hit the market. It was a full house rehab. Jump over to Ontario Park Bungalow Blog to see the work. And check out the listing. Won’t you be our neighbor?

Ontario Park Bungalow

Ontario Park Bungalow is for sale!

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Writing Westview’s History

When we’re not renovating the house or working in the garden we really enjoy pretending we’re historians. Since moving to Westview in early 2007 we’ve spent countless hours digging through old files at the Atlanta History Center, searching newspaper databases and microfiche, emailing with old residents of the neighborhood and examining deeds and plat maps at the Fulton County Courthouse. It’s like piecing together a really exciting puzzle!

At this point it is difficult to even say where our search began. I honestly can’t remember. It is quite possible it began with this blog. In the early days we had a regular reader (Marsha, hopefully you’re still reading!) contact us about her time spent in the neighborhood as a child. Steffi and Marsha exchanged emails for a while before losing touch. Or perhaps it started when we made our first visit to the Atlanta History Center’s Kenan Research Center and found a map dating back to the 1890s that showed our street. No matter, it has been an interesting journey that has taken us down some dark paths – including murder – and some very bright paths – including a rock n’ roll star that lived on our street during the 1950s. It saddens me to also say we’ve lost some people along the way. People that were very generous sharing their memories and photographs with perfect strangers.

I’ll give you a brief overview of the history and some of the highlights that stand out to me. We’ve written a great deal about it on the Westview website, so you can hop over there after you finish reading the blog if you’d like to know more.

In 1884 land was set aside for the Westview Cemetery. This was the second cemetery built in Atlanta after Oakland, and even today Westview Cemetery remains the largest cemetery in the Southeastern United States. The cemetery is important to the neighborhood because a street car was built to transport people from downtown to the cemetery. The original street car was pulled by a mule and of course later went on to use electricity. The gate to the Westview Cemetery is an awesome stone structure that was featured on postcards. We have a framed postcard on our wall that one of our neighbors (a real life historian) gave to us. Needless to say the entrance still stands, so if you’re in the area you should go check it out. Lots of famous Atlantans are also buried there.

Westview Cemetery Postcard - It is postmarked 1909.

Westview Cemetery Postcard – It is postmarked July 1909.

The early growth patterns of Atlanta were really dependent on the street cars, so along came a company from Minnesota, called the Ontario Land Company, that bought the land adjacent to the cemetery. They called the subdivision Westwood Park and laid out the original plan for the streets. The streets today still reflect these original names – East and West Ontario Ave are named for none other than the Ontario Land Company and Westwood Ave is named for Westwood Park. Well, things didn’t go so well for the Ontario Land Company and despite their best efforts the land remained undeveloped. You have to remember it was still rather rural at this point, so perhaps people weren’t quite ready to live so far away from the city. (Today by car we’re only 5-10 minutes from downtown.)

The Westwood Park plat map that shows the original planned streets.

The Westwood Park plat map that shows the original planned streets.

Here’s where one of the dark twists comes in to play. The Westwood Park property sat vacant for a number of years before it was re-subdivided. During this time a highly publicized murder took place. A man from Roswell named Forrest Crowley was lured to the site on the promise of buying some mules. When he arrived he was murdered and robbed. The murder took place by the lake, which can be seen in the plat map above. There is no lake in the neighborhood today.

Murders aside, in 1910 a man named William J. Davis purchased the land for $100,000 and announced it would be called “West End Park.” The land was subdivided and lots were sold by Forrest and George Adair at auction over the next few years. Our lot was sold at the very first auction in June, 1910 for $750.

"High Class West End Residence Lots" from 1910

“High Class West End Residence Lots” from 1910

Our house wasn’t built until the end of 1916. The original owners were two women that owned their own multigraphing (copy) shop. Their mother also lived with them. Neither of the women had children as far as we know, so we’ve had difficulty locating any of their living relatives. If anybody reading this is related to Cora and Lucy Thomas please contact us! Their mother was named Frances Thomas. We’d love to hear from you!

This is not our house, but it is a house from one street over.

This is not our house, but it is a house from one street over. We found this photo at the Atlanta History Center.

From there the neighborhood chugged along as a popular residential district. Lots were sold, the neighborhood was expanded, streets were paved, a school was built. In 1927 a real estate/home building company focused heavily on building and selling homes along Stokes Ave. The company, F.P. and George J. Morris, even opened a real estate office near the corner of South Gordon St and Cascade Ave. The storefront is still there today (but of course it serves a different use).

The Great Depression seems to have temporarily halted the overall development of the neighborhood, and we’ve had people verbally tell us some homes were split up into duplexes during this time. However we found a single newspaper article from 1931 that shows that houses continued to be built and sold – though the pace must have been dramatically reduced.

The WWII housing shortage saw a number of smaller homes built in the community. This rapid construction was intended to be 2/3rds rentals and was controversial with the existing homeowners. Mayor Hartsfield even got involved to try and diffuse the situation.

The 1950s saw the rise of rock n’ roll and our neighborhood was no exception. Tommy Roe, who was getting lots of practice playing gigs around town and at Brown High School, lived just down the street from our house. During a tour in England with Chris Montez a new group called The Beatles was billed as one of the opening acts. And when The Beatles played their first gig in the U.S. one of their opening acts was Tommy! How cool is that?! In case you’re unsure of who Tommy Roe is here is a couple of his videos. I’m sure you’ll immediately recognize these songs.

Fast forward a few years to the 1970s when Mayor Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first African-American mayor, lived in the neighborhood. The family that currently owns his former home still occasionally receives junk mail addressed to him. We have also been told his bodyguards lived across the street in order to offer 24-hour protection.

And I’m starting to realize my brief overview about the history of the neighborhood has become quite long, so I’ll wrap it up there. The research into the history is an ongoing project and new artifacts from the past continue to come to light. It’s really been quite an exciting journey for the small group of homes in southwest Atlanta. As people always say… if only these walls talk!

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Westview Open House

Are you interested in living in Westview? Great news – Westview is participating in an “Open House” this Saturday, May 7th! The event will be in conjunction with West Fest and Committed to Communities.

What: Committed to Communities Southwest Atlanta Open House Event

When: May 7, 2011
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Walking tours begin at 1052 Allene Avenue for open houses in Adair Park and Westview

Where: Adair Park and Westview

Why: To encourage and showcase the possibilities of home ownership in our communities

Houses in Westview:
409 Inman Street
415 Altoona Place
1679 Rogers Avenue
486 East Ontario Avenue
472 West Ontario Avenue
1517 South Gordon Street

More information

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Westview Centennial Celebration

Patrick and I are really excited about the upcoming “Westview Centennial Celebration” event! If you’re in the Atlanta area we’d love to have you stop by this Saturday!

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Westview is excited to be celebrating our centennial on Saturday, June 26th! 100 years ago William J. Davis purchased the Westwood Park property from the Ontario Land Company for $100,000. He renamed the property “West End Park”, and hired Solon Zachery Ruff, the civil engineer and landscape expert responsible for Ansley Park, to lay out the plans for his new residence park neighborhood.

Today Westview is a vibrant (and affordable) intown Atlanta neighborhood! Come spend a day with us and get to know one of Atlanta’s last hidden gems.

Information about the days events:

Location
Join the Westview Community Organization at KIPP STRIVE Academy for music, art, and food as part of Westview’s Centennial Celebration! KIPP STRIVE is located in the historic J.C. Harris school building at 1444 Lucile Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30310.

Please note: The BeltLine 5K run starts at Rose Circle Park and ends at KIPP STRIVE Academy.

Time
9:30 – 11:00: BeltLine 5K
10:30 – 11:00: Ribbon-cutting
11:00 – 11:30: Ceremonies
11:30 – 4:00: Grill-Off, Artist Market, Music, and More…

BeltLine 5K and Trail Grand Opening
Celebrate the opening of the new BeltLine trail in Southwest Atlanta as we run, jog and walk through Historic West End and Westview. This is a free race sponsored by the BeltLine! There is no cost to register!

Complete your free registration online by visiting www.active.com (search for “BeltLine” to find the race) and selecting the “No T-Shirt” option.

OPTIONAL DONATION: Those who wish to make the optional $20 donation as part of their registration will receive an event t-shirt on race day!

You can also download the 5K registration form and mail it to:

The BeltLine Partnership
50 Hurt Plaza, Suite 910
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

The race starts at Rose Circle Park (765 Peeples Street, 30310) and finishes at KIPP STRIVE Academy (1444 Lucile Ave, 30310). Registration begins at 8:30am. The race ends about a mile from start. There are periodic shuttles for transportation back to the race start.

Music
In The Pocket will perform old school RnB immediately following the BeltLine ceremony. Then come boogie down to the best in deep house and soul on the lawn at KIPP STRIVE with DJs Ramon Rawsoul (House in the Park – www.ramonrawsoul.com), Ryze (Imported Underground), and Drew (Drew’s House)!

Art/Vendors
Attendees: Between eating and dancing browse our artist/vendor market! There will be face painting by Stephanie Anderson, and Atlanta Printmakers Studio will demonstrate various printmaking techniques. In addition you can shop for original artwork, candles, prints, organic soap, and more.

Vendors: If you are interested in participating in our artist/vendor market please download our vendor form and email us at info@westviewatlanta.com. This is our first year hosting the market so the application fee is only $10! We’ll supply you with a 10×10 space. You bring the tent, table, and other displays. Space is limited, so don’t wait!

Grill-Off
Attendees: Are you ready to sample a taste of Westview? Get your “passport” and taste what our grill masters have created! The “passport” will allow you to sample the different foods. Once you have tasted all the different categories submit your vote for “the best of…”.

The suggested donation to participate in the Grill-Off taste is $5, although you are always welcome to donate more! You can go ahead and reserve your “passport” via PayPal on www.westviewatlanta.com/centennial and pick it up at will-call on the day of the event. (This is an ideal solution for BeltLine 5k runners/walkers who don’t want to carry cash!)

Grill Masters: Are you the master of the grill? Come out and prove it in the Westview Grill-Off! Entries in the Grill-Off are free! Individuals, organizations, and restaurants are all allowed to participate. Please download our Grill-Off form and email us at info@westviewatlanta.com.

Fun
There will be fun games (with prizes) for the kids!

As part of Art on the BeltLine Akbar Imhotep, The Story Messenger, will be performing.

Sponsors/Partners
The Westview Centennial Celebration could not happen without the generous donations from:

– Westview Community Organization
– Atlanta BeltLine
– KIPP STRIVE Academy
– Rashad Taylor (State Representative, House District 55)
– House In The Park
– Kroger
– Cleta Winslow (Atlanta City Council, District 4)
– C.T. Martin (Atlanta City Council, District 10)

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2010 Updates

We know, we know… we have been horrible about updating our blog. Things have been busy, and for a while we had a little side project going on that took up most of our time. However, 2010 has been a really good year for us and Westview!

Our best friend in the whole wide world moved in down the street in a beautifully renovated bungalow. (She grew up in Atlanta, but moved away 11 years ago. It is great to have her back!)

Our best friend!

Our best friend!

Our garden/plants have really started to grow in. Check out the backyard!

Our Backyard

Our Backyard

And the landscape strip by the street…

Landscape Strip

Landscape Strip

The grape vine we planted three years ago finally has grapes. (And a LOT of them!)

Georgia Grapes

Georgia Grapes

We’re also getting closer to finishing the front door our friends Josh and Carl gave me for my birthday last year. Finding the hardware has proven to be a challenge, but we are getting very close.

Bungalow Door

Refinishing the Craftsman Door

Westview completed the first step in our master planning process, and the BeltLine is in the process of also creating a master plan for the southwest area – which includes Westview.

Westview Master Plan

Westview Master Plan

The neighborhood also turned 100 years old this year, so on June 26th we’re having a big celebration for the centennial! If you are interested in moving to the neighborhood or just want to visit please feel free to join us. The full info is on the Westview website.

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