Summerhill community oral history interviews
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Summerhill community oral history interviews

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Auburn Avenue Research Library
Title: Summerhill community oral history interviews
Dates: 1997
Quantity: 4.0 audiocassette tapes
Abstract:The interviews in the Summerhill Community Oral History series focus on the residents of the Summerhill neighborhood who discuss what it was like growing up in the neighborhood, as well as their childhood and teen years in the community.
Identification: aarl97-007

Biographical/Historical Note

The neighborhood of Summerhill in Fulton County, Georgia, is one of the oldest black neighborhoods in Atlanta. Officially organized during the Reconstruction, it was one of two areas in the city where "freed colored" people could settle, the other being the Fourth Ward that encompassed Auburn Avenue. The name "Summerhill" was given to this neighborhood by Armstead W. Bailey Sr., one of the original black settlers. Early residents included many Jewish families, resulting in a diverse community. The African American population here included citizens that created professional milestones and opened the door for future generations of Atlanta's African Americans, as well as many flourishing businesses. In the 1930s and 1940s the community was serviced by a sophisticated trolley system. The infrastructure of the community began to decay in the 1950s, and in 1965 a huge segment of Summerhill was razed and what was once a thriving Jewish enclave became part of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. The community is trying to get back its economic base and recover from problems associated with urban blight such as high unemployment, overcrowded schools, welfare dependency, and crime. The Summerhill Neighborhood Inc. (S.N.I.) is a local organization committed to the revitalization of the area.


Scope and Content Note

These narratives focus on the residents of The Summerhill neighborhood. Some of the residents discuss what it was like growing up in the Summerhill neighborhood. Some of the residdents discuss their childhood and their teen years in the community of Summerhill.

Summerhill is one of the oldest black neighborhoods in Atlanta. The community was officially organized during the Reconstruction Era and was one of the two areas where the city allowed "freed colored" people to settle. The other main area where blacks were allowed to settle was the old Fourth Ward that encompassed Auburn Avenue.

The name "Summerhill" was given to this neighborhood by Armstead W. Bailey Sr., one of its original black settlers. This was only about three years after Emancipation. At his death, he was one of the first people buried in the historic West View Cemetery. The early Summerhill residents included many Jewish families who were trying to escape the hostile mood of some of the rural south. As a result, Summerhill became a diverse community of churches and synagogues. It was also a neighborhood where many of its citizens created professional milestones and opened the door for future generations of Atlanta's African American population. The community had a very distinguished roster of prominent residents. Some of the first black physicians in the south lived and worked in Summerhill and it was a community of many flourishing businesses.

In the 1930's and 40's, the Summerhill community was serviced by a sophisticated trolley system that traversed Capital Avenue, across Atlanta to Weyman. As the decade of the fifties rounded out, Summerhill's aging infrastructure began to experience decay. Many of its more affluent residents began relocating as the construction of the new expressway loomed in the horizon. By 1965, a huge segment of Summerhill was razed and what was once a thriving Jewish enclave became first base in the Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.

Problems associated with urban blight such as high rate of unemployment, overcrowded schools, welfare dependency, crime and the allure of the suburbs, continues to plague Summerhill. Today this community is trying to get back its economic base. The neighborhood has been trying to initiate its own renewal through the Summerhill Neighborhood Inc. (S.N.I.). This is an organization committed to revitalization.


Index Terms

African American neighborhoods--Georgia--Atlanta--History--20th century.
Community life--Georgia--Atlanta.
Summerhill (Atlanta, Ga.).

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Item, Summerhill community oral history interviews, Archives Division, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.


Restrictions

Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on research use of this collection.

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