HOWELL STATION HISTORIC DISTRICT

National Register listed : 1997

Credits

Location: The National Register boundary for the Howell Station Historic District encompasses the contiguous historic resources located within the neighborhood of Howell Station bounded on the north by west Marietta Street, on the east by the Mead Packaging Company and Herndon Street, on the south by the Fulton County Jail and Baylor Street, and on the west by Marietta Boulevard and Rice Street.

Original Builders: Western and Atlantic Railroad employees, After 1880 -Mostly industrial workers

Period of significance : c.1842 to 1947

Contributing/Noncontributing Resources : The 210 contributing buildings were built before 1947 and retain their historic integrity. The one contributing site is Knight Park. The 20 noncontributing resources either were built after 1947 or have undergone extensive alterations causing them to lose integrity.

Architectural Classification: LATE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURY REVIVALS/Neo-Classical Revival LATE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURY REVIVALS/Colonial Revival LATE 19TH AND EARLY 20TH CENTURY AMERICAN MOVEMENTS/ Bungalow/ Craftsman OTHER/Folk Victorian OTHER/Gabled Ell Cottage OTHER/Shotgun OTHER/Georgian Cottage

Materials: foundations - brick, concrete block, stone; walls - brick, wood ;roofs - asphalt, standing seam metal

Credits

 

Developmental history / historic context

The Western and Atlantic Railroad (chartered in 1837) came through to Atlanta in 1842. At that time, the future site of the Howell Station neighborhood was the homestead of pioneer settler Benjamin Thurman. The presence of the Thurman home, as well as a couple of others on the north side of the tracks, may have influenced the decision to put a station at this location. A few scattered dwellings around the station housed the railroad workers.

Samuel Dextor Niles, from Boston, Mass., bought 230 acres of land from Benjamin Thurman, including the plantation house, in the 1850s. Reportedly, Mr. Niles operated a slave market on the property. During the Civil War, the house was occupied by Confederate Gen. Joseph Eggleston Johnston for his headquarters during the Atlanta campaign because of its favorable location along the railroad. The change in command of Confederate forces, from Gen. Johnston to Gen. John B. Hood, took place there. Many of the buildings there were destroyed by the Federal Army as it marched down Marietta Street.

Dextor Niles returned afterwards and bought another 195 acres of land from a V.A. Gaskill. Few of the old residents rebuilt after the Civil War, but there were newcomers to take their place. Wood haulers, whose job it was to supply people in Atlanta with wood for heating, set up camps in the area and stripped the forest. They made their homes in the old Confederate fortifications.

During the later part of the 1800s, there were numerous real estate transactions, and land swapped hands frequently. Niles continued to be a major landholder in this area at the time of his death in 1907. Through these transactions, the area was gradually subdivided. The street plan appeared in place by 1892, but the area was still sparsely populated. Streets were named after some of the larger landholders, and the occasional change in street names is likely a reflection of land changing hands, as the street is called after the name of the new owner.

In the later years of the 19th century, this area began to become industrialized. In addition to the railroads, the Exposition Cotton Mills opened in 1882, followed by the Van Winkle Gin and Machinery Co. in 1888, and many others located on Marietta Street. The street car line extended up to Howell Station by the late 1890s and by 1905 there was an interurban trolley connecting Atlanta and Marietta. With an abundance of jobs available, and easy access via the street car, neighborhood development began in earnest in the opening years of the 20th century.

The neighborhood was named for Evan P. Howell, a captain in the Confederate Infantry, who gained recognition in the Battle of Atlanta. He was very active in city and county affairs, serving as Mayor of Atlanta in 1903-04. Mr. Howell died in 1905, as the neighborhood was developing, and the name Howell Station appears on an auction sale poster from c.1910.

During the early part of the 20th century, development of the neighborhood centered along Longley Avenue and West Marietta Street, spilling over onto Tilden Avenue. The city directory identifies 98 households in the neighborhood in 1910. The oldest church in the neighborhood, Howell Station Christian Church, was reportedly organized on Tilden prior to 1900. The congregation constructed a church building on the corner of Longley Avenue and Church Street and then enlarged and bricked the building c.1925.

In 1914, J.W. Goldsmith donated some land fronting on Marietta between Rice and Carr Streets to the City of Atlanta for a public school to be named the John Meador Goldsmith School, after his son. This school was built for white children; the black children who lived in the neighborhood walked to English Avenue School. From the very beginning, this neighborhood has been a blue-collar area, with most of the residents working for nearby industries. Both blacks and whites lived in the neighborhood, though it could hardly be said to have been integrated in its early years. The black residents lived along Herndon Street, Reynolds Street, and on the south end of Rice Street; white residents lived in the northern section of the neighborhood.

By the mid-1920s, the neighborhood had expanded considerably. In the original section around Longley and Tilden, 18 new homes had been built. New homes also extended further south on Longley, Herndon and Rice, and westward along Niles Avenue. Mr. F.S. Hall, owner of some land west of Rice Street, put through another street called Hall Place, and built some shotgun houses after he quit growing wheat and rye for the stock yards located on Marietta Street. Niles Avenue was extended west to meet Hall Place. Around 1927, Niles was extended again to form a semi-circle, bringing it around to meet Warfield Street. There were approximately 200 households in the neighborhood in the mid-1920s. Growth continued at a rapid pace throughout the rest of the decade, but came to a virtual halt in the 1930's as a result of the Great Depression.

As the community grew, so did the need for more churches. The Howell station Christian Church built its present brick structure in 1925 to accommodate a larger congregation. The Northwest Baptist Church met in a tent set up in a vacant lot next to 1020 Tilden, before its Stone Mountain granite structure was erected at the corner of Niles and Tilden in 1927. A black Church, Howell Station Baptist Church, was built in 1932.

There was very little new development following the Depression until after World War II. The new ranch-style houses of the period were built mostly in the southern section of the community along Baylor, Warfield, and Foster streets. A few small apartment buildings have also been built.

Mr. William T. Knight, a resident of the neighborhood from the mid1920s to the early 1950s and a city alderman from 1929 to 1971, donated a four-acre tract of land to the City of Atlanta in December 1940, to be made into a park for the enjoyment of the residents. A community center was built near the center of the park.

In 1966, Mead Packaging Corporation moved next to the neighborhood, destroying two blocks east of Herndon to build an industrial plant. The commercial strip along W. Marietta Street began to decline in the 1970s. In 1970, there were eleven businesses and houses along this stretch, but by 1980 there were only three. The Goldsmith School closed in 1972, the building being taken over by the Southern Rural Action Project. The old school was vacated around 1982, and the building was demolished by the Mount Ephriam Church to make way for its new church building when it moved into the neighborhood in the mid-1980s.

Despite industrial encroachment and a certain amount of decline along the periphery, the Howell Station neighborhood still retains a strong sense of community identity, and continues its stubborn existence as an isolated residential neighborhood, in stark contrast to the surrounding area.

Narrative statement of significance (areas of significance)

The Howell Station Historic District is located northwest of downtown Atlanta, Fulton County. The neighborhood is laid out in a grid pattern and consists of historic residential buildings, commercial buildings, community landmark buildings, a recreational park, and informally landscaped yards. The Howell Station Historic District is characterized as a blue-collar neighborhood which developed as a result of the extension of the Western and Atlantic Railroad (now Southern Railway) in 1843(chartered in 1937). The district has statewide significance in the areas of architecture, community planning and development, and landscape architecture.

The Howell Station Historic District is significant in architecture for its excellent intact collection of historic residential, commercial, and community landmark buildings. The historic residential buildings were built from the 1890s into the early 1940s. Most of the residential buildings, as identified in the Georgia's Living Places: Historic House, in Their Landscaped Settings context, reflect the types of significant buildings constructed in Georgia's urban neighborhoods from the late 19th century into the early 20th century. The types of residential buildings located within the neighborhood include Shotgun, Georgian cottage, Bungalow, Gabled-Ell cottage, Queen Anne cottage, New South cottage, and Hall-Parlor. These types are interspersed throughout the neighborhood such as on Tilden Street and Longley Street , or located side-by-side, such as the Georgian cottages located in the African-American section of the neighborhood on Herndon Street . The styles identified within the district include Folk Victorian and Craftsman. According to the Georgia's Living laces context, the Folk Victorian style, popular from the 1870s to the 1910s, and the Craftsman style, popular from the 1910s to the 1930s, were common in the urban setting. The houses reflecting these styles are generally located in the area associated with the white residents, the central and western sections of the neighborhood, along Tilden Streetand Niles Avenue .

The remaining historic commercial stores are good and intact examples of the types of masonry commerce-related buildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The one-story buildings are constructed of brick and located on West Marietta Street. Historically, the neighborhood had several commercial buildings located on West Marietta Street. The few remaining commercial buildings still convey the historic association between the stores and the neighborhood. The only remaining historic store still active is the grocery store located on the corner of Longley Avenue and West Marietta Street.

The district is also significant for its community landmark buildings which are represented by the Knight Park Community Center and four historic churches: the Howell Station Christian Church, Northwest Baptist Church, Greater I Am Baptist Church, and the Howell Station Baptist Church. The land for Knight Park was donated by William T. Knight c.1940 and a community center was constructed c.1945 near the center of the park . The community center was closed to the public in mid-1980s and is now used for storage. Howell Station Christian Church is a Colonial Revival-style building constructed c.1925 . The Northwest Baptist Church is a Colonial Revival-style building constructed of Stone Mountain granite c.1927. Both churches are historically associated with the white residents of the neighborhood. The Greater I Am Baptist Church, which is a shotgun house built c.1920, and the Howell Station Baptist Church, a concrete block building construct c.1932, lack any high-style detailing and are historically associated with the African-American residents of the neighborhood.

The district is significant in community planning and development as a rare and good example of a historically blue-collar neighborhood located in Atlanta. The district is significant for its remaining grid pattern of streets and subdivision of the land lots for residential development. The neighborhood developed as a blue-collar neighborhood as a result of the extension of the Western and Atlantic Railroad (now Southern Railway) in 1843 (chartered in 1937). The earliest residents were workers for the various railroad companies in Atlanta. The second wave of residents that moved into the neighborhood were associated with light industry and rail-related vocations. The development of the Howell Station neighborhood of Atlanta is distinctive because unlike the upscale development of the National Register-listed Inman Park (c.1889) or the mill village development of the National Register listed Cabbagetown Historic District (c.1895), the Howell Station neighborhood developed specifically as a place for blue-collar workers, employed by the railroad and other nearby light industry located along Marietta Street, to live and work.

The district is significant in landscape architecture for its excellent intact examples of informally landscaped front yards, tree lined streets, open green space of Knight Park, and granite retaining walls. The neighborhood is a residential island surrounded by light industry. The neighborhood has maintained a large number of its mature trees causing a canopy effect along the streets, land lots, and sidewalks that visually shelters the neighborhood from the surrounding industry. The overall landscape setting is significant because it creates a park-like environment within a neighborhood surrounded by industry. National Register Criteria.

The Howell Station Historic District is eligible under Criteria A and C for its significance in the commercial and developmental history of Howell Station and for its variety of architectural styles and types from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Description of present and historic physical appearance:

The Howell Station Historic District is located northwest of downtown Atlanta, Fulton County. The neighborhood is located in an area of Atlanta dominated by light industry associated with the development of Marietta Street, which originates at the intersection of Peachtree Street with Marietta Street in the National Register listed Farlie Poplar Historic District and extends through the Howell Station Historic District. The Howell Station Historic District consists of intact residential buildings, a recreational park, and four historic churches in a historically blue-collar neighborhood of northwest Atlanta.

When the Western and Atlantic Railroad (now Southern Railway) was extended to reach the Howell Station area in 1843, the area was considered the country, where plantation houses and farms dominated the landscape, located outside the city limits of Atlanta. However, almost all the built environment constructed before the Civil War (1861-1865) was destroyed during General Sherman's March to the Sea (1864). Today, there are no historic resources remaining in Howell Station to convey its antebellum history.

The area was laid out in a grid pattern and subdivided into land lots in the early part of the 1890s by real estate developers, S.D. Niles and W.B. Goldsmith. The residential housing stock in the neighborhood reflects the types of houses constructed in urban blue-collar neighborhoods from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. The types of residential buildings located within the neighborhood include Shotgun, Georgian cottage, Bungalow, Gabled-Ell cottage, Queen Anne cottage, New South cottage, and Hall-Parlor. The appearance of these types are interspersed throughout the neighborhood, such as on Tilden Street and Longley Street , and similar types are located side-by-side, such as the Georgian cottages located in the African-American section of the neighborhood on Herndon Street .

The neighborhood developed historically as a blue-collar neighborhood with both white and African-American residents living in segregated areas of the neighborhood. The African-American section of the neighborhood was located south of Baylor Street and east of Herndon Street. Much of the African-American section of the neighborhood has been lost due to the expansion of the Mead Packaging Corporation, east of the district, and the construction of the Fulton County Jail, south of the district. The remaining historic African-American section of the neighborhood is located on Herndon Street near Niles and Reynolds streets. This section is characterized by narrow land lots and houses lacking any stylist elements (see photo 1 and 3). The rest of the neighborhood is characterized by larger land lots with the houses situated close to the street and uniformly set back. The houses reflect Craftsman and Folk Victorian styles. These types and styles are identified as significant in Georgia's Living Places: Historic Houses in Their Landscaped Settings context.

The commercial buildings within the district are located along the south side of West Marietta Street. Historically, a row of commercial buildings fronted West Marietta Street; however, few remain intact or retain integrity today. The commercial area consisted of two groceries, one meat market, a barber, and the Florence Hotel. Carver's Grocery, a one-story brick building constructed c.1900 with Folk Victorian elements located on the corner of West Marietta Street and Longley Street, is the only remaining grocery store active in the neighborhood and one of the few remaining buildings along West Marietta Street that still conveys the commercial history of the Howell Station neighborhood .

Historically, the neighborhood had one school, Goldsmith School, for white students and the African-American students left the neighborhood to attend English Avenue School or Booker T. Washington High School. Today, the modern Mt. Ephraim Church is located on the site of the Goldsmith School.

The four historic churches located within the district are the Howell Station Christian church, built c.1925, the Northwest Baptist Church, built c.1927, the Howell Station Baptist Church, built c.1932, and the Greater I Am Baptist Church, built c.1920. The Howell Station Christian Church is located on the corner of Church Street and Longley Avenue. The gable-end church is constructed of brick and reflects the Colonial Revival style . The Northwest Baptist Church is located on a large lot in the center of the neighborhood at the intersection of Niles Avenue with Tilden Street. The gable-end church is constructed of Stone Mountain granite and reflects the Colonial Revival style. The Howell Station Baptist Church is located in the remaining African-American section of the neighborhood on Reynolds Street. It is a gable-front building constructed of concrete block and brick. The Greater I Am Church is located on Herndon Street in the remaining African-American section of the neighborhood. The church building is a wood-framed shotgun type house with a shed porch and steeple .

The setting of the neighborhood consists of Knight Park, tree-lined streets, granite retaining walls, sidewalks, and informally landscaped lawns. The land for Knight Park, located in the northwest section of the neighborhood, was donated to the Howell Station neighborhood from Mr. William T. Knight c.1940. The park is an open space with sloping hills and mature trees. A community building, built c.1945, is located in the park and is used for storage (see photo 14). Concrete sidewalks and granite retaining walls still remain along many of the streets within the neighborhood. The neighborhood has retained much of its vegetation and several of the streets are canopied by mature trees. Although there are no formally designed domestic landscapes, several of the houses have informally landscaped front lawns.

The setting outside the neighborhood is dominated by light industry, which was located on Marietta Street to be close to the Southern Railway. The remaining commercial stores, both historic and nonhistoric, along West Marietta Street serve as buffers between the neighborhood and the industry. Approximately half of the original neighborhood has been lost to the encroachment of the Mead Packaging company and the construction of the Fulton County Jail. Also, many of the commercial buildings along Marietta Street have been razed.

local map | main map | index of Artery.org contents | index of web links | suggestions & comments | Fulton Co.National Register | de facto