Atlanta restores William Bagley’s Name to Buckhead Park

Credit: Buckhead Heritage Society

Credit: Buckhead Heritage Society

The city of Atlanta is restoring the historical name of Bagley Park on Pharr Road.

The Buckhead Heritage Society nonprofit announced Wednesday that Mayor Andre Dickens recently signed legislation to reinstate the park’s original name. The City Council passed the measure last week after it was introduced by Councilman Howard Shook, who represents the area where the park is located.

According to the Buckhead nonprofit, formerly enslaved people in the 1870s founded a community where the park is now. In 1929, William Bagley purchased six lots there after being forced from his 84-acre Forsyth County farm in 1912.

When developer Frank C. Owens laid out a formal neighborhood he called Macedonia Park in 1921, the area became known informally as Bagley Park out of respect for the community leader.

Bagley Park was once home to approximately 400 families, Black-owned businesses, and churches, including Mt. Olive Methodist Episcopal Church and an associated cemetery, the nonprofit said. Bagley and his wife, Ida, were interred in Mt. Olive cemetery.

In the 1940s, however, Fulton County used eminent domain, eviction and forced negotiation to push out residents following complaints from white residents nearby. By 1952, a park replaced the displaced Black community.

Fulton later honored Bagley and his family by naming it after him. But in 1980, Buckhead Baseball and the city renamed the park in honor of Frankie Allen, a Buckhead Baseball umpire who died that year.

“My mother grew up in Bagley Park and had strong and wonderful memories of the neighborhood,” Elon Osby, Bagley’s granddaughter, said in a statement. “We didn’t know the city had renamed it until we drove by one day. It was very upsetting for our family. We are grateful Buckhead Heritage has taken up the mantle.”

According to Buckhead Heritage, the nonprofit recommended the name Historic Bagley Park after reviewing the neighborhood’s history and speaking with Bagley family members. The nearby athletic fields will be named in honor of Allen.

Today Mt. Olive Cemetery is the only remnant of that Black community. Buckhead Baseball helps to financially support the cemetery’s conservation, the nonprofit said.

Buckhead Heritage is currently raising funds to update the signage in the park. Donations can be sent to the nonprofit’s website.