Tag Archives: lost city

Buttermilk Bottom

Once you’ve heard of a place called “Buttermilk Bottom” how can you resist spreading the word??! H actually stumbled upon it on the Atlanta Time Machine website, in the form of a song, and shared it with me. This song memorializes a poor black neighborhood on the edge of downtown, the floodplains, the lowlands, the bottom of Atlanta. The name may come from the smell that permeated the area caused by the backed up water in the downward sloping sewers. In the mid-20th century this neighborhood still had no telephones or electric lights. The African-American neighborhood was considered a slum and the city did not feel the need to invest improve conditions there until they found a new, more economically productive use for it.

In the early 1960s, under the banner of “Urban Renewal,” The “crime-ridden neighborhood” was torn down to make way for the Atlanta Civic Center which was built in 1967, and other “improvements” to the city of Atlanta. All that’s left of those chatty front porches, churches, corner stores and juke joints is a plaque at Ralph McGill and Piedmont, and a song that’ll get you shaking your hips.

The exact boundaries of the old Buttermilk Bottom today are unclear, the Civic Center now stands on part of the larger area which was the western end of the Old 4th Ward, in the floodplain between Ralph McGill and Peachtree. The photo above shows Mayor Hartsfield scoping out the slum near Piedmont in 1959.

Sparta, Ga.

sometimes the job requires a little hands on work. This house in Sparta was sold just this summer out of the Georgia Trust’s Revolving Fund (hence we needed to take down the for sale sign, so i borrowed a screwdriver from my new friend up the street). It’ll be the 4th building in the tiny town of Sparta with a Historic Preservation easement on it which just goes to show what a collection of historic properties Sparta has—so many of these little towns have. After all I guess, this area used to be the heart of Georgia with the port of Augusta on the Savannah River, and the capital of Louisville and later Milledgeville in the same region. Of course the story of these towns is nothing new, they exist everywhere, I guess we just all like the big cities better now.

not so chic

Augusta’s shabbiness unfolded.

This journey began with a magical journey out of Athens on 78 east. The towns, historic preservation and ruins alike were so picturesque, but mostly in the trees did I feel at home. They arched high up over the road, close enough to create a tunnel sometimes and the light filtered through the forests or patches of woods making everything glow with a lushness I always associate with the Limberlost (who else read that book?). It was lucky there was rarely anyone behind me because i was hardly going the speed limit the whole time. All the same, I did not see the mama and baby deer until I could tell she was about to run. Why oh why do they do that??

report: I lost a headlight but stayed on the road, and both deer made it into the woods after an 18-wheeler passed the opposite way, I only hope that doe is ok. This was the first tradgedy.

I got into Augusta, remembering and yet in awe at what a sad city it is. Such opulence in neglect and decay. wierd.

My b&b was in the historic district, that residential end of town, where Victorian houses–Italianate, Queen Anne–try to outdo themselves avenue after avenue. It reminds me of New Orleans in a way, but i’ve really never seen anything like it. The Queen Anne Inn itself could’ve used an inspection report, but I refrained and settled into my ultra shabby back room with grimey carpet, cheap (but decent) sheets, and linoleum under the out-of-place jacuzzi. The window unit had to be kept full blast all night cause it was hot in that stuffy little space. I got a peek at the rooms in the rest of the house however and think they’d be well worth staying in. At any rate, I expected nothing better or worse and the price was right. I was perfectly content there.

First of course, i had to meet my neighbor, B. He didn’t seem to be rolling his eyes up and down me but his recommendations of places to eat “well, there’s the Riverside Pub, you can get anything you want to drink there, but nothing to eat. …or the _ pub, they’ve got all you care to drink, but no food. or the…” when his recommendations turned complaints about his life (and how he’d once been—wrongly—assumed to be a child molester) and revealed a more inquiring mind regarding ME, i politely excused myself to meet my landlord and resolved not to make an appearance at the Riverside Pub or any such place. Instead, i took my landlord’s recommendation of the Fox’s Lair, a respectable hole in a basement, just through the next block (literally out the back door) that measured about 12 x 15 and where everyone knew one another and had their own roles to play in this revolving door. I was the girl who wrote a lot, “I haven’t written that much since i was in jail” was one comment. I didn’t mind, but after my long introductory chat with P I still stayed for only one drink, and i think Red Stripe was the wrong kind. oh well, with that variety of people I was surely just another character.