English Avenue School Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Atlanta, GA

The English Avenue School was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on March 23, 2020. The property is located in the English Avenue neighborhood at 627 English Avenue, NW, northwest of downtown Atlanta (Fulton County). The Atlanta Preservation Center sponsored the nomination and prepared the nomination materials.   

English Avenue School was constructed in multiple phases between 1911 and 1930 to accommodate growing enrollment and changing educational needs in Atlanta and more specifically, its surrounding neighborhood.  The building is situated on a 3.2-acre property comprising the majority of a city block bounded by four streets and a concrete sidewalk. The school property includes the extant school building, the sidewalk, an asphalt-paved parking lot, an asphalt-paved play area, and green space. The original brick building was completed in 1911, and an addition extended the footprint in 1923.

The exterior façade on both the original building and its 1923 wings is red brick laid in an unusual pattern of five courses of running bond between single courses of alternating headers and stretchers. Exterior character-defining features include crenelated, as well as raked parapets, window hood moulding with label stops, projecting pavilions with recessed entryways, limestone segmental arches and quoin surrounds, and decorative elements such as an owl figure, shields, shields-and-scrolls, and diamond bosses. Interior features include the 1911 plastered brick arch supports in the central corridors; the 1923 four-section central corridor dividers with doors, side panels, and transom windows; 1923 custom-built shelving in many classrooms; two-panel, single-light, and double-light wood doors; intact historic stairwells with rounded plastered corners; a 1923 brick fireplace; a 1923 stage in the auditorium/gymnasium; and metal windows of various configurations throughout the building.

English Avenue School is significant in the area of education as a representative example of an urban public school, a significant school type in Georgia, as defined in the statewide context Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Georgia, 1868-1971. It retains character-defining features of the type, including its original urban location, masonry construction, spacious corridors, and classrooms with separate cloakrooms. The 1911 building was designed by the Atlanta firm of Edwards & Walter, which designed public school buildings across the state, and public buildings regionally. The building’s 1923 additions were designed by the Atlanta firm of Daniell and Beutell. The English Avenue School is also significant in the area of education as one of the largest public elementary facilities constructed by the Atlanta Public School system to serve students during an important period of transition in the development of educational facilities. By 1920, Atlanta’s population growth resulted in an explosion in the student population. The number of schools grew from three to 73, and the number of students increased from 2,090 to 41,337.

Additionally, English Avenue School is significant under Criterion A in the area of social history for its association with demographic changes as well as cultural changes that occurred in the neighborhood, the city of Atlanta, and across the south during the 20th century. After serving as a school for children of what was originally a white working-class neighborhood, the Atlanta Board of Education voted in 1950 to convert the school for the exclusive use by black children. On December 12, 1960, the day after the school auditorium was 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 English Avenue School is a rare extant location of a specific incident that illustrates the high racial tensions in Atlanta at the time.

The National Register of Historic Places is our country's official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts worthy of preservation. The National Register provides formal recognition of a property's architectural, historical, or archaeological significance. It also identifies historic properties for planning purposes, and insures that these properties will be considered in the planning of state or federally assisted projects. National Register listing encourages preservation of historic properties through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants. Listing in the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property. 

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The State Historic Preservation Office of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources serves as Georgia’s state historic preservation office. Its mission is to promote the preservation and use of historic places for a better Georgia.  Our programs include archaeology protection and education, environmental review, grants, historic resource surveys, tax incentives, the National Register of Historic Places, community planning and technical assistance. 

The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices.   

For press inquiries contact Outreach Program Manager Allison Asbrock at 770-389-7868 or allison.asbrock@dnr.ga.gov.