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GSU Class Gives Back By Focusing On Atlanta’s History

The Atlanta City Council is considering designating Pullman Yard as a historic landmark district.
The Atlanta City Council is considering designating Pullman Yard as a historic landmark district.
Credit Dan Raby / WABE
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Atlanta is full of history. And a graduate class at Georgia State University has been successful in preserving some of it.

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Each year, Richard Laub, Director of the Heritage Preservation Master’s Degree Program, picks a neighborhood in the metro-Atlanta area for his students try to get onto the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s an idea that started in 2001.

“I thought it was a good exercise for people not only to do the national register nomination for their own edification and their own skill set, but also, it was something we could give back to the community,” Laub said.

Laub’s class, which is held once a year, has successfully added 13 neighborhoods to the national register, including Kirkwood, Capital View and Collier Heights.

His current class is working on East Atlanta, where GSU graduate student Joshua Curtis has been doing some research. He said the designation can give the neighborhood an identity.

“Basically, it helps people in the area to know they’re in a historic district, that there’s a history and a culture behind the neighborhood,” Curtis said.

Being listed on the national register does not protect a neighborhood like a local historic district does, with all its regulations.

The listing comes with tax incentives for restorations. However, it doesn’t limit what can be done to a property.

“It’s a carrot without a stick,” Laub said. “If you wanted to tear down your house after it was listed, you go to your local government, and they allow you to tear it down, then you can tear it down.”

Laub said getting the national designation is sometimes the first step for a local historic district.

This year’s class plans to submit the East Atlanta application by summer.