Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 16, 2013
City of Atlanta Designates Renowned Collier Heights as a Local Historic District
Mayor Reed Signs Legislation Designating Renowned Collier Heights as a Local Historic District
ATLANTA, GA – Mayor Kasim Reed signed legislation that preserves the architectural character and history of Collier Heights, one of the most significant African-American communities in the City of Atlanta. The action is the final step in designating the residential community in northwest Atlanta as a local Historic District. The Atlanta City Council approved the ordinance on May 6, 2013.
During the late 1950’s, Collier Heights thrived with new residential development and has long been considered a quintessential example of modern home design for upper- and middle-class African-Americans who flocked to the then suburban area for new housing options unavailable to them during segregation.
“Collier Heights represents an extraordinarily intact post- World War II suburban development where many of Atlanta’s notable civic and business leaders made their home during the era of segregation and the Civil Rights Movement,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “It is a privilege for my administration to play a part in preserving a unique architectural community that many legendary African-American business and civic leaders made their home.”
As the newest City of Atlanta historic district, Collier Heights is protected from new construction and design alternations to a property’s exterior. All proposals for new construction, additions, exterior renovations, demolitions and changes on the property are now required to undergo a design review by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission (UDC). The Department of Planning and Community Development and UDC staff have been working with residents since last year on a plan to add Collier Height to the city’s impressive list of historic places. The City of Atlanta has 18 historic districts.
“This unique neighborhood is significant in the area of architecture and is one of the lasting examples of mid-twentieth century residential development in Atlanta,” said James Shelby, Commissioner, Department of Planning and Community Development. “Collier Heights is comprised primarily of ranch and split-level houses, American small houses and a few bungalows all of which have been preserved and maintained by residents despite changes in development trends and styles surrounding the community.”
While the main community of Collier Heights was initially constructed for African-Americans, there was housing development in the area prior to 1951 that consisted of early bungalows, American small houses and modest ranch houses originally built for white residents. A bungalow is usually a low house, with a broad front porch, having no upper floor or upper rooms set in the roof, often with dormer windows.
This early development of the area was quickly vacated by whites once African-Americans began building and moving into the area. Collier Heights is a neighborhood located in the western edge of Atlanta. It was annexed within city limits in1952.
“Collier Heights is considered to be one of the first neighborhoods in the U.S. after World War II built for and by African Americans,” said DPCD’s Assistant Director of Planning, Doug Young. “African-Americans began purchasing lots in Collier Heights during the mid-1950s,” he said. The neighborhood has been touted in the Atlanta Daily World as the most prominent African-American residential area in the City of Atlanta.
By the 1960s, the neighborhood was celebrated in nationally-known publications, including the New York Times and Time Magazine as the premier residential enclave of influential African-Americans in the Southeast. Some of Atlanta’s most prominent African American figures, including Ralph D. Abernathy, Herman Russell, Martin Luther King, Sr. and Asa Yancey, Sr., had made Collier Heights their home, and not only remained as residents, but also worked hard to protect the area from commercial development pressure and increasing crime as residential development slowed during the late-1970s.
Collier Heights was one of the few areas in Atlanta that catered to this type of middle and upper-middle class development within the African American community and is one of the only African American neighborhoods in Atlanta that still retains the essential characteristics that propelled its development.
Nationally recognized with the distinction of being a community largely developed as the result of housing construction specifically designed to serve a majority African American population, Collier Heights was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
About the Department of Planning and Community Development:
The mission of the Department of Planning and Community Development is to plan and implement the future by guiding the physical and economic development of the City while enhancing the quality of life for all through a comprehensive range of planning, design review, construction plan approval, and housing preservation and assistance services and programs.
For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @City_of_Atlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed