A Look Back: This Month in Atlanta’s History
By Ann Taylor Boutwell
June 1, 1925: Virginia-Highland’s Fire Station #19 officially opened on the northeast corner of North Highland and Los Angeles Avenue. In 1924, the station began as a joint effort between the City of Atlanta and Fulton County. Atlanta’s chief of construction William Hansell and city engineer C.E. Kauffman approved specifications and broke ground on the building. The city appropriated $21,000 and the county $7,000. The understanding was that city fireman stationed at #19 would give protection to the adjacent property outside the city. The station stands today as the city’s oldest operating station building.
June 3, 1955: Loew’s Inc., North America’s oldest theater chain, filed suit in Federal Court against Atlanta’s Board of Review for censoring the movie version of the bestselling novel, Blackboard Jungle. The film, starring Glen Ford and Anne Francis, depicted a young teacher’s experiences in an inner city vocational high school. Christine Smith Gilliam, the city’s censor chair, and her board of review contended that the movie was “immoral, obscene, and licentious.” Later in 1955, District Court Judge Boyd Sloan ruled that Blackboard Jungle could be shown despite the ban.
June 8, 1994: Unveiled on the grounds of the Georgia State Capital was the bronze statue memorializing the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter. The seven-ton, 11-foot-high slab of Georgia granite is a slightly larger than real life depiction of Carter with rolled up shirtsleeves and khakis. The Plains native entered politics by serving two terms as a Georgia State Senator – from 1963 to 1967 – and one term as the 76th governor of Georgia – from 1971 to 1975. The sculpture was created by Frederick Hart, who also created the three bronze soldiers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
June 9, 1942: Golf legend Bobby Jones received a commission as a captain in the Army Air Force. Although a medical disability and his age of 40 did not compel him to go to war, he insisted on serving his country.
June 11, 1938: The Atlanta Housing Authority appointed Charles Forest Palmer, a real estate developer, as its first chairman. Palmer, a pioneer of slum clearance, had organized Techwood Homes, one of the first public housing developments in the United States. In 1955, Atlanta’s Tupper and Love Publishing Company published his book, Adventures of a Slum Fighter. Ironically, Techwood Homes would eventually become one of the city’s worst slums and was demolished in 1996.
June 12, 1965: Ronald Lamar Yancey, the 21-year-old-son of an Atlanta postman, became the first African American to graduate from Georgia Tech. He earned his degree in electrical engineers.
June 22, 1955: Morris Brown graduate Charles Lincoln Harper died at his residence in the Old Fourth Ward. Born to former slaves, the Sparta native believed that America’s survival depended on a thorough education without regard to race, color or creed. He was former principal of Morris Brown College’s high school, the Yonge Street Evening School and Booker T. Washington, Atlanta’s first black high school. Although he stood 5 feet 4 inches tall and walked with a limp, Harper was fearless concerning human rights during the 1930s and 1940s. He served as secretary of the Black Georgia Teachers Education Association, vice president of Georgia’s branch of the NAACP, as well as president of the Atlanta chapter. Today’s Harper/Archer Middle School at 3399 Collier Drive honors his name.
June 28, 1988: Virginia-Highland resident John Rushing Howell died of complications from HIV. Known for his compassion, Howell supported human rights, neighborhood preservation and the arts. In 1989, the John Howell Memorial Park at 855 Virginia Avenue was dedicated as a tribute to the neighborhood activist who, in the 1970s and 80s, helped fight off plans for I-485 to cut through his neighborhood. The park stands on land cleared for the road.
June 29, 1993: Georgia Lottery sales began. More than $13 million tickets sold the first day. The opening celebration, launched at Underground Atlanta, featured entertainment by George Jones and the Pointer Sisters. Gov. Zell Miller bought the first ticket, which wasn’t a winner.
June 30, 1979: MARTA’s all systems are go on the first train to Avondale.