One of Atlanta’s oldest schools added to National Register of Historic Places

The English Avenue Elementary School is now officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places

As of last week, one of the oldest public schools in Atlanta has officially joined the National Register of Historic Places.

The English Avenue Elementary School, 627 English Ave. NW, was built on the city’s west side in 1910.

According to the Atlanta Preservation Center — which sponsored the historic places nomination  — the building, once known as Western Heights, was an all-white school until 1950.

When the demographics of the neighborhood began to shift, “the Atlanta Board of Education voted in 1950 to convert the school from a school for white children to a school for black children,” according to the preservation center. It was then that it changed its name to English Avenue Elementary School.

It operated until 1995, with notable alumni such as Gladys Knight, Mable Thomas and Herman Cain, according to the preservation center.

Credit: Atlanta Preservation Center

Credit: Atlanta Preservation Center

In 2010, the Greater Vince City Opportunities Program purchased the former school and began a capital campaign to renovate the property into a community center.

In nominating the building for the register of historic places, the preservation center notes that despite being vacant since 1995, the building “retains interior details including a fireplace, radiators, and original auditorium elements including a stage and proscenium arch.”

The Atlanta Preservation Center prepared the nomination, for consideration by the National Park Service, in June 2018, with the help of State Rep. "Able" Mable Thomas, preservation consultant Laura Drummond, and Atlanta Preservation Center Board Member Chrissie Wayt.

In making its case for the building's significance, the center wrote that the "English Avenue School is significant in the area of social history for its association with demographic changes as well as shifting dynamics in public education in the city of Atlanta and across the south during the mid-20th century."

"On December 12, 1960, the day after the use of the school auditorium as the site of a prayer meeting prior to a segregation protest march, the school was the location of what has been called one of the worst racially-motivated bombings in the city of Atlanta," the nominating materials read. "The English Avenue School is a rare extant location of a specific incident that illustrates the high racial tensions in Atlanta at the time."

Last week, the preservation center announced their efforts had been successful.

"The 1911 English Avenue Elementary School in Historic English Avenue neighborhood is officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places," the post reads.

As of 2019, more than 95,000 places nationwide were on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the National Park Service, which notes that "listing in the National Register is the first step towards eligibility for National Park Service-administered federal preservation tax credits."