Auburn Avenue landmark, Douglasville Black school among ‘Places in Peril’

Georgia Trust unveils 2023 list of Georgia’s 10 ‘Places in Peril’
Aerial photograph shows 229 Auburn Avenue, which is targeted for razing to make way for affordable housing.  Local preservationists are fighting it, arguing about the buildings historic value. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Aerial photograph shows 229 Auburn Avenue, which is targeted for razing to make way for affordable housing. Local preservationists are fighting it, arguing about the buildings historic value. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

It has been at least four decades since anyone has regularly used the old Beulah Grove Lodge No. 372, Free and Accepted Masons building in Douglas County.

In 1881, the same year that Tuskegee Institute, Morris Brown College and Spelman College were founded, freedman Jack Smith provided land for a church, lodge and school to be built for Douglasville’s Black community. In 1910, Lodge members built the structure to house the Pleasant Grove Colored School on the ground floor and a Masonic lodge space on the second floor.

Beulah Grove Lodge and School stands as an important piece of history in the Jim Crow South. Many rural African American communities utilized these communal buildings for multiple purposes, reflecting their need for independence and self-reliance. Due to its infrequent use, the lodge has deteriorated to a dangerous state and rehabilitation efforts have been complicated by the pandemic. However, Douglas County has selected Beulah Grove for inclusion on the South Georgia Scenic Bypass Route, encouraging those involved to see this important historic site saved.

Credit: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation

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Credit: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation

Today, a raggedy blue tarp dangles on the side of the building, while ripped brick red tar paper exposes rotted and faded wooden walls.

It is no wonder that the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation placed the building, owned by neighboring Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, on its 2023 list of “Places in Peril.”

This is the 18th year that the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, which advocates for the preservation and revitalization of Georgia’s diverse historic resources, has created a list, “designed to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.”

“We hope the list will continue to bring preservation solutions to Georgia’s imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites,” said Mark C. McDonald, CEO of the Trust.

Aside from the Beulah Grove Lodge, the list, published Wednesday, also includes:

  • 229 Auburn Ave. in Atlanta: Built in 1908, the building was the long-time base of Atlanta Life Insurance, but over the years it served as the home of several Black-owned businesses like a restaurant, funeral home, beauty college, an accounting school, a tailor and the Atlanta Dance Theatre. The building was largely destroyed in 2008 when a series of tornadoes ripped through Auburn Avenue. Developers, who want to build a multimillion-dollar affordable housing complex on the site, are fighting with local preservationists who want to keep it standing.
In this undated photograph, the staff of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company poses in front of the building located at 229 Auburn Ave.

Credit: The Herndon Home

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Credit: The Herndon Home

  • Chickamauga Masonic Lodge No. 221 in Walker County.
  • Dasher High School in Valdosta.
  • Dudley Motel, Cafe and Service Station in Dublin.
  • Lee’s Mill Ruins on the Flint River in Forest Park.
  • McConnell-Chadwick House in Milton.
  • Old Campbell County Courthouse in Fairburn.
  • Wilkes County Training School in Washington.
  • Yates House in Ringgold.

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