Two days ago Wayne Waldrip, a friend of mine who, like me, grew up in southeast Atlanta, phoned me with the news that the John B. Gordon elementary school in East Atlanta was being demolished. The next day, after visiting my mother, who lives nearby, I took photos of the partially demolished building and the equipment they are using to tear down the walls.
I plan on doing a more extensive article on the school after interviewing various people who attended the school over the last few decades of its active life a school, but in the meantime you can click here to view the the photos. At this point they've knocked down the northwest corner of the building, near the front entrance, and don't seem to have done any work on the demolition for the past two days.
A handwritten sign indicates that the school was built in 1909, although I haven't confirmed this. Franklin Garrett , in his book Atlanta and Environs , states that the school was built with the 1920s bond issue that resulted in most of the older elementary school buildings in the City of Atlanta. But if the 1909 date is correct, it was constructed when East Atlanta was annexed into the City of Atlanta. It was named for John B. Gordon, a Confederate general, Ku Klux Klan leader and postwar governor and U.S. senator.
The sign also states that the school was closed down in 1995. I lived a few blocks from the school from the early 1980s to around 2009. After the school closed I watched the building, neglected by the real estate firm that bought it from the school board, slowly deteriorate into an unusable state.
It's sad. Many historic buildings throughout Atlanta have been renovated and put to good use. John B. Gordon elementary was deteriorating at the same time that its neighborhood was undergoing a dramatic rejuvenation. By the time the real estate company that had owned it went out of business, the building was beyond realistic possibility of restoration. The Gordon building was an unnecessary loss for a fantastic neighborhood.
I've put together a photo album of the current state of the Gordon building. If you're interested in the photos, visit every day or two. I'll be adding more as the demolition continues.