The old English Avenue Elementary school I discussed a few days ago, began as Western Heights Elementary school and was originally built in 1910. Above, you can notice the exact location of the original school as it appeared on the Sanborn Fire Insurance map of 1911.
At this time, Western Heights Elementary was an all-white, segregated elementary school serving the all white, working class community residing on English Avenue. It’s neighboring neighborhood, Vine City was comprised of mostly of a working class African-American populace.
Though English Avenue appears to be in the state of decay in its present state, the history of English Avenue is rather interesting. Founded in the early 1900’s, English Avenue was named for the former mayor of Atlanta, James English. The area became a bustling working class white community, serviced by the popular street cars of the early 1900’s.
Toward the 1940’s and 1950’s, the English Avenue neighborhood began to change as white flight settled in. In the neighboring Vine City, the start of the Civil Rights movement began to emerge, with marches, protests, and key Civil Rights Movement figures (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) moving in. Western Heights Elementary was ultimately renamed as English Avenue Elementary in the 1950’s once desegregation occurred.
Thankfully, English Avenue Elementary will ultimately be restored and repurposed so that future generations can enjoy the rich history of the neighbor and the school itself.