Battle of Atlanta
Although not yet founded, Inman Park was the site of intense combat during the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. Much of the fighting took place near the Troup Hurt House, an unfinished plantation home used as makeshift headquarters by Union forces. Both sides suffered heavy casualties as Confederate troops moved eastward to protect the Decatur-to-Atlanta railroad line. The Troup Hurt House is prominently featured in the Cyclorama, a forty-two-foot-tall panoramic mural depicting the Battle of Atlanta.
Atlanta's First Suburb
In the late 1880s Joel Hurt, an influential Atlanta real-estate developer and a trained civil engineer,
Hurt formed the Atlanta and Edgewood Street Railway Company to meet the transportation needs of the new community. In September 1888 the company opened Edgewood Avenue, a tree-lined and largely privately funded thoroughfare connecting Inman Park to downtown Atlanta. The company's crowning achievement came in August 1889, when it began offering trolley service from Inman Park to downtown for a five-cent fare. It was Atlanta's first electric streetcar line.
The East Atlanta Land Company acquired more acreage and held a series of public land sales between 1889 and 1896. Houses designed in the Queen Anne style, featuring "all of the architectural details that the Victorian architect's imagination had to offer," were popular among early residents; the
Springvale Park, a ten-acre sanctuary featuring a small lake and exotic plants, was the centerpiece. Hurt commissioned Olmsted's firm in 1903 to improve the park aesthetically. The Atlanta Constitution gushed, "An idyll of peace and happiness breathes in tender whispers from the cool surface of the lake, flecked with the broad leaves of white lillies and pink lotus buds."
Inman Park lot sales stagnated by the turn of the century due to economic factors, including the development of other neighborhoods farther from the city, such as Druid Hills and Ansley Park. Large lots and green spaces were divided into smaller, more affordable plats of land. Meanwhile, zoning restrictions lapsed in 1910. The first commercial developments and the first apartment building were constructed the same year. As automobile ownership rose through the years, Atlantans began migrating to even more distant suburbs, and Inman Park continued to decay gradually.
A citywide rezoning ordinance in 1954 allowed absentee landlords to partition large stately homes into low-rent boardinghouses. A few houses were torn down and replaced with apartment complexes. Inman Park became beset by crime, poverty, and apathy. As Robert Griggs, the acknowledged father of Inman Park's restoration movement stated, "The fabric of the community had disintegrated."
Urban Pioneers and Community Activism
The pioneers also showed vigor for community activism. In 1970 Inman Park Restoration Incorporated (IPR) was established. Within two years IPR managed to change the area's zoning designation to low-density residential, while dozens of houses were reportedly in the process of being restored. In 1973 Inman Park was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bounded to the east by Little Five Points, Atlanta's eclectic shopping and entertainment district, Inman Park celebrates its past every April with its Inman Park Festival and Tour of Homes. The festival is highlighted by an arts-and-craft show as well as a parade featuring "Kelly's Seed and Feed Marching Abominable Band."
Rick Beard, "Hurt's Deserted Village: Atlanta's Inman Park, 1885-1911," in Olmsted South: Old South Critic, New South Planner, ed. Dana F. White and Victor A. Kramer (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979), 195-221.
Milo Ippolito, "Mead Project Won't Look New, Developer Promises," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 5, 2003.
Robert M. Press, "The Butterfly of Atlanta," Christian Science Monitor, January 6, 1981.
Eileen Segrest, "Inman Park: A Case Study in Neighborhood Revitalization," Georgia Historical Quarterly 63 (spring 1979): 109-17.
Andrew Sparks, "Turmoil among the Turrets," Atlanta Journal and Constitution Magazine, March 7, 1971.
Ted Bazemore, Clayton County Library System
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