History of the Home Park Neighborhood
The area of Home Park was originally known as Chastaintown, in honor of Avery Chastain, a large estate owner whose house was at the intersection of Hemphill Avenue and Emmet (now Tenth) Street. Chastaintown was a center for horse trading and until the end of the nineteenth century was a largely undeveloped area of woods and fields with few conveniences associated with city living. In 1901, a group of business associates founded the Atlanta Steel Hoop Company in order to provide a local source of ties and hoops or cotton bales. Atlanta Steel Hoop Company became Atlantic Steel Company in 1907 and went on to become one of Atlanta's largest manufacturing establishments.
The residential development of Home Park was fostered by the growth of Atlantic Steel as well as the Exposition Cotton Mill on Marietta Street and the Miller Union Stockyards off Howell Mill Road. In 1909, the neighborhood was incorporated into the City of Atlanta when a state ordinance expanded the City's boundaries north beyond Fifth Street. Two years later, the Home Park Elementary School opened on the northwest corner of State and Eleventh Streets, occupying property that had been donated for the purpose.
Churches were very much at the heart of Home Park's religious and social life. Residents were predominantly involved with one of the four Methodist churches or the one Baptist church. In 1951 the Methodist churches merged and founded the Tenth Street United Methodist Church at Tenth Street between Tumlin and Hirsch Streets.
The commercial area located at Tenth Street and Hemphill Avenue served as the shopping and social center of the neighborhood. A large brick building at the northwest intersection built by Avery Chastain contained a grocery store, drug store and barbershop among other retail spaces. Accessibility was a major advantage to living in Home Park. The three high schools that serviced Home Park as well as downtown Atlanta were easily accessible by public streetcar. The streetcar line was constructed to service Georgia Tech and Atlantic Steel long before Home Park was incorporated into the City of Atlanta.
A prime location, good schools, grocery stores and other retail, as well as access to public transportation made Home Park a desirable place to live.
In the 1960s many elderly homeowners in Home Park passed away at the same time younger residents moved to the suburbs. This trend made a significant number of residential properties available for sale. By 1970 Georgia Tech began expanding its campus north to Tenth Street and west to Northside Drive by purchasing and converting blocks of Home Park residential property for institutional use. During the 1970s and 1980s the rapidly expanding student population exceeded campus dormitory capacity. As a result many houses in Home Park were purchased by investors whose sole purpose was renting them out to students. The result was a dominant transient student population, subdivided houses, generally dilapidated housing conditions, and increased crime. By 1991 the owner-occupancy rate in Home Park was down to just 35% and the neighborhood languished compared to other thriving in-town Atlanta neighborhoods such as Midtown and Virginia-Highland.
In 2002 a skilled team of Home Park residents, architects, city planners, conservators, engineers, and business leaders invested significant human capital to create the Home Park Master Plan . The list of participants included representatives from the City of Atlanta, Atlantic Station, Georgia Tech, the Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Department of Transportation, and Turner Properties. Since that time those wanting to own a home and live in a convenient in-town neighborhood at relatively low cost have settled in Home Park. The more recent and profound trend of young people wanting to avoid long commutes and live in walkable in-town Atlanta neighborhoods has also sparked renewed interest in our neighborhood. The Home Park Community Improvement Association, through its leadership and stewardship of the neighborhood, has won the respect of City of Atlanta officials, the business community, and civic leaders.