A Neighborhood Improvement Journal - Spring 2014

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Grove Park

Still Growing

By James Hiram Malone


Grove Park was named and established by Dr. E. W. Grove, president of the Grove Park Development Company. The remainder of Grove Park was extended in the 1920's and 1930's by various developers. Land use is predominantly residential with some commercial buildings along Hollowell Highway and Simpson Street. There is some light industry in the northeast corner of the Neighborhood Planning Unit adjacent to the Louisville and Nashville Belt Line. This was annexed to the City of Atlanta in 1952.

Almost one hundred years ago, in 1912, Grove Park became a participant in what professional urban planning historians refer to as the “City Beautiful Movement”. This initiative brought beautiful scenic landscaped boulevards, such as Edwin Place, Matilda Place, Gertrude Place and North and South Evelyn Place, to suburban communities across the country including Chicago, Detroit, and Kansas City. The Grove Park Neighborhood, located in District 3, the heart of Atlanta Georgia’s west side, is still improving and, we believe, deserves some special attention for its contributions to and experiments with neighborhood beautification.

In 1987 Grove Park began sprouting it’s distinctively painted homes. Originally most of the wooden-siding homes on North Avenue, N.W. were painted a standard white. After an adventuresome neighbor painted his house a bright canary yellow, and it looked good, his neighbor next door painted his house a bright green, and another a light blue and another, radiant pink. Soon, most of the homes presented a rainbow of colors. Other experiments with color and decoration soon followed.

In 1997 a resident decided to try decorating his lawn trees. He grabbed a paint brush and some red paint and he dabbed a circle of paint onto the bare bark of the lower tree trunk. Liking what he saw, he added yellow and green paint, shaping a wild flower. On another tree he painted hearts and bands of colors. He then decorated the 24 foot tall chimney on his house with a beanstalk flower. A neighbor liked what she saw and decorated her tree, then others followed. The designs, a few yards from the public thoroughfare, slow down traffic and now have become a landmark area in Grove Park. The storybook trees place smiles on faces of the spectators and are a year-around beauty even when the trees lose their leaves to winter time. This landscape decor is not the first of its kind. Years ago farmers used white paint and lime combination and coated it around the base of fruit tree trunks to ward off pesky bugs. These waterproof acrylic exterior paints do not harm the trees. The addition of color is an adaptation of this old technique.

In 2000, the media attention came our way, first by print and then television coverage. Then Boone Bus Tours brought travelers from across Georgia to visit Grove Park, to see what are now called the “Laughing Trees”. Later, international attention came our way after a TV station in Canada brought a whole crew to Grove Park to feature this innovative landscaping.

For more instructions on tree trunk painting please contact

j.l.t.malone@att.net

In 2002, Grove Park received a bonanza hands-on improvement resource person in the arrival of a new resident, Ms June Elois Mundy. She was a world traveler and certified Urban Designer/Planner ... a Scholar who was loyal to grassroots action. She was also an employee of the City of Atlanta and a walking and talking encyclopedia of knowledge. Under the watchful eye of Ms Mundy, Grove Park flourished with her expertise and her dedicated teaching to her eager neighbors. In the evenings, she taught the community map reading, code enforcement, and zoning, and she gave them a grasp of the political processes and how to control their surroundings. Grove Park’s interests in beautification and environmental protection were given a further boost.

Although bold at experimenting with augmentation of nature, Grove Park remains protective and appreciative of its natural trees as well.


In 2004, to foster and preserve open green space, Grove Park residents purchased a tree canopy acre of land. They are in the process of developing walking trails to study nature in its truest form to provide a neighborhood refuge to protect the environment.



http://www.atlantaga.gov

James Hiram Malone J.L.T.malone@att.net

Author/Artist/Community Activist

 

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