Original plans circa 1854, photo courtesy APC
Atlanta continued to grow and expand in the days after Reconstruction. The railroads brought a constant stream of goods and people to the hub of transportation. Lemuel P Grant has been called the “Father of Atlanta,” Originally from Maine, Grant came south to build out the railroad in the 1840’s. In 1843 he purchased 600 acres of land and in 1856 built an Italiante style mansion in the center. As the civil war broke out, he joined the confederacy and became a Colonel in charge of engineering and fortification of the city. He sold several acres under value to what is now the site of Grady Hospital. He sold or traded the land which became Oakland Cemetery. After the war, he donated 100 acres southeast of his home for a city park, which was aptly named after him, Grant Park. Many upper-middle class homes were built around the new park from 1890 -1905, comprising much of the Victorian style architecture still in existence in Atlanta today.
Home 1858, photo courtesy Georgia Globe Design News
The LP Grant mansion was also the birthplace of legendary golfer Bobby Jones in 1902. During the Great Depression the home went into decline. Author Margaret Mitchell was the first to try the save the home by investing $3,000 in 1941 with Boyd Taylor in hopes of turning the home into a museum. Taylor did nothing. Mitchell lost her money and a lawsuit against him. Then fires and neglect destroyed the upper floors and all four porches. The Atlanta Preservation Center purchased what was left of the LP Grant mansion in 2001. Returning the home to it’s former grandeur is an on going project. The first floor is now complete and the home to the APC offices.
Current view of LP Grant Mansion, photo courtesy APC
At the turn of the 20th century, Atlanta began to flourish. Asa Candler, after buying Dr Pemberton’s tonic formula, turned Coca-Cola into an international sensation. Candler passed the company on to his children and turned his focus to real estate. He watched as George Adair took his horse-drawn streetcars into new territory south and west (Historic West End) and then developed neighborhoods around them in the late 1800’s. Candler followed suite and began purchasing land between Atlanta and the town of Decatur to the east.
In our next installment, we will look at how the major developers intertwined to shape many of the neighborhoods still popular today.