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Preserving Black Atlanta

Two historic homes in Vine City, owned by notable Black Atlantans, will soon be restored and preserved with help from a $1 million grant from the National Park Service (NPS) to Preserve Black Atlanta (PBA).

PBA is a nonprofit that identifies and advocates for the preservation of buildings and landmarks that document the historical narrative of Black Atlantans. The grant will assist in the restoration of historic homes once owned by George Alexander Towns and Grace Towns Hamilton–both of whom are tied to the long organizational history of the Civil Rights Movement. 

George Towns built his own home in 1910. As a co-founder of the Niagara Movement and the Atlanta branch of the NAACP, he often held meetings at his home with James W. Johnson, W.E.B. Du Bois and Walter White. 

Grace Towns Hamilton completed her home in 1956. She was the executive director of the Atlanta Urban League, and in 1966, became the first African-American woman elected to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives.

The homes, which are now owned by Invest Atlanta, have been vacant and subject to vandalism and vagrancy for several years. Invest Atlanta and PBA applied for the grant with the goal of restoring their historic integrity and leveraging them as a community resource and educational space in the future.

“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,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens. “Thank you to the National Park Service, Preserve Black Atlanta and Invest Atlanta for helping us preserve that legacy for future generations.”

According to Dr. Eloisa Klementich, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, historic preservation is a proven catalyst for economic development. “Not only does the historic preservation of buildings help to give people a sense of place and connection to the past,” she said, “it also drives significant growth in that it helps enhance real estate values and attracts investment and tourism to a community.”

The PBA grant is part of $16,247,500 in African American Civil Rights grants awarded by the Historic Preservation Fund, as administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior.

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