Integrity and Condition Assessment: Sweet Auburn National Historic Landmark District

To help stewards of the Sweet Auburn NHL District and the District's preservation partners understand the current condition of the District, the NPS commissioned a study titled Integrity and Condition Assessment: Sweet Auburn National Historic Landmark District (the study). Prepared by New South Associates, the report documents in narrative and graphic formats the major changes that have occurred within and adjacent to the District since its designation in 1976. The contractor was directed to prepare a report describing and analyzing the current integrity and condition of NHL District as a whole, using the NHL bulletin, How to Prepare National Historic Landmark Nominations.

Between 2018-2019, the project involved research, a reconnaissance survey, photographic documentation, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis and mapping, and several means of public involvement throughout to gather local area knowledge and inform areas of investigation. NPS staff collaborated with representatives from the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Historic Atlanta, Sweet Auburn Works, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, City of Atlanta, Atlanta Regional Commission, Central Atlanta Progress, Historic Atlanta, Georgia State University Heritage Preservation Program, Atlanta Preservation Center, Atlanta City Council, and Board of Regents from the University System of Georgia. Occurring at the start and the end of the project, the NPS hosted and facilitated forums consisting of these local historic preservation professionals, major landowners, and parties with a demonstrated interest in the NHL District. Following these forums and throughout the course of the project, the NPS also solicited public comment.

Completed in 2019, the study definitively demonstrates that the Sweet Auburn NHL District retains the qualities for which it was originally designated as an NHL; confirms that the NHL designation is merited; and that the District is not a candidate for de-designation. The study found that "as a whole, the district's remaining historic buildings continue to convey the sense of time and place of a small-scale historic commercial area dating from the 1910s to the 1960s." The study highlights a number of preservation successes, for example the rehabilitations of the Municipal Market and Odd Fellows Building as well as the establishment of Sweet Auburn Works, a nonprofit working as an advocacy liaison for the community.

However, the study also showed that the Sweet Auburn NHL District has lost 47% of contributing buildings, largely due to new construction and natural disasters, and faces preservation challenges. No one project was identified as the "threat" to the Sweet Auburn NHL District. Rather, numerous challenges and issues were identified: these challenges include encroaching development; vacant and neglected properties; incompatible construction; and the vulnerability of resources not specifically addressed in the NHL nomination such as archeology.

Maintenance of any historic property, whether it be a single building or a large district, requires constant attention and active management. NPS will continue to monitor the Sweet Auburn NHL District and welcomes new information concerning the issues identified in this study. Furthermore, the NPS looks forward to assisting the local community and their preservation partners as they strive towards the common goal of protecting the unique qualities that make the Sweet Auburn NHL District a place of national importance.
Document Content:
Sweet Auburn NHL Final.pdfSweet Auburn NHL Final.pdf   (31.4 MB, PDF file)
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