ATLANTA, GA – The National Park Service (NPS) has announced the award of $16,247,500 in African American Civil Rights grants – including $1 million in funding to Preserve Black Atlanta (PBA), a 501(c)3 dedicated to identifying and advocating for the preservation of buildings and landmarks that document the historical narrative of Black Atlantans. The grant will assist in the restoration of the historic homes of George Alexander Towns and Grace Towns Hamilton located in the Vine City neighborhood and currently owned by Invest Atlanta.
“Atlanta has a proud legacy of leadership in civil and human rights, and we are truly fortunate to live in a city where we are surrounded by tangible history of movements and their leaders. Thank you to the National Park Service, Preserve Black Atlanta and Invest Atlanta for helping us preserve that legacy for future generations,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.
The homes have been vacant and subject to vandalism and vagrancy for several years. Recognizing the value that the properties hold in telling the story of Civil Rights and preserving community assets, Invest Atlanta and Preserve Black Atlanta partnered to apply for the grants with the goal of preserving the historic integrity of the homes with the future intent of activating the properties as a community resource and educational space. Invest Atlanta will work with Preserve Black Atlanta, who will serve as the project’s Principal Investigator, to oversee the responsibilities associated with managing the grant.
Invest Atlanta works to foster public-private partnerships that accelerate job creation, economic development, neighborhood revitalization, and innovation. Restoring these properties serves both organizations’ goals which include historic preservation as well as community revitalization.
“Historic preservation is proven to be a catalyst for economic development,” said Dr. Eloisa Klementich, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta. “Not only does the historic preservation of buildings help to give people a sense of place and connection to the past, but it also drives significant growth in that it helps enhance real estate values and attracts investment and tourism to a community.”
This project is supported through an African American Civil Rights grant, provided by the Historic Preservation Fund, as administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior.
George Towns built his own home in 1910. As a co-founder of the Niagara Movement and the Atlanta branch of the NAACP, James W. Johnson, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Walter White were frequent guests. Grace Town Hamilton completed her home in 1956. She was the executive director of the Atlanta Urban League. In 1966, she was the first African American woman elected to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives.
“Located across from The Herndon Home museum, both Towns properties allow the nation to learn about the long organizational history of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Karcheik Sims-Alvarado CEO, Preserve Black America Atlanta, Inc. “Both sites remind us of the important contributions of early Civil Rights leaders.”
This years’ NPS awards will benefit 44 projects in 15 states and support the continued preservation of sites and history related to the African American struggle for equality.
“The African American Civil Rights grants are critical to helping preserve and interpret a more comprehensive narrative of the people, places, and events associated with African American Civil Rights movement,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams.
The African American Civil Rights grants fund a variety of projects from rehabilitation to oral history documentation, in coordination with state, Tribal, local government, and nonprofit partners.