The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation held a project kickoff ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 13, to mark the beginning of rehabilitation of two historic properties near the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail.
After construction is completed, the homes will be placed in the Atlanta Land Trust to create permanent affordable housing. Remarks were given by Georgia Trust President Mark C. McDonald, Atlanta Land Trust Chairman Christopher Norman and Chief Housing Officer of the City of Atlanta Terri Lee. After remarks, the house at 1138 Harwell Street in Atlanta’s Washington Park was open for tours. Attendees included representatives from the Atlanta Land Trust, Invest Atlanta and Southface.
In March 2018, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation launched its West Atlanta Preservation Initiative, a program that aims to revitalize neighborhoods affordably and sustainably without displacing longtime residents, by purchasing two historic houses on the Westside with plans to rehabilitate and sell as affordable housing. The Trust is partnering with the Atlanta Land Trust to provide permanent affordability for the future owners of properties that will be rehabilitated through the Initiative. Major funding of the project is being provided by The 1772 Foundation, the Thalia and Michael C. Carlos Foundation, and the Georgia Power Foundation.
Both properties were purchased from the family of Edward Johnson, a longtime resident of the community who served during World War II as a ground school instructor with the Tuskegee Airmen. A longstanding member of Friendship Baptist Church—a historic black church displaced by the Mercedes-Benz Stadium—Johnson became the first black licensed master electrician in the city of Atlanta. In 1947 he started his own business, Johnson and Wood Electric Company, in partnership with Charles Wood, Sr., a fellow Tuskegee graduate. Their company wired homes and businesses, did repairs, and served as a training ground for young black electricians. After retiring, Johnson continued to work weekends at the Clark Atlanta University power plant until he stopped at the age of 80.
The houses will undergo a sustainable rehabilitation following the EarthCraft Sustainable Preservation program, a set of construction standards and guidelines created by the Georgia Trust and Southface to make historic homes more energy efficient.
After construction is completed, the two houses will be sold to low-to-moderate income families and placed in the Atlanta Land Trust to ensure permanent affordability. Preservation easements will be placed on the homes to protect them from demolition or insensitive alterations in perpetuity.
The Washington Park house at 1138 Harwell Street was built in 1953 for Edward Johnson, who raised his family in the home. Located adjacent to the Westside Beltline, the house contains 1,500 square feet with three bedrooms.
The house at 1575 Mozley Place in the Mozley Park neighborhood is a two-bedroom bungalow that was built in the 1920s and contains 1,300 square feet. An addition will be added to the back to create a third bedroom and second bathroom.