‘Not hidden in the closet’: Historic Atlanta moves to recognize, preserve historic LGBTQ spaces

The former site of the Atlanta Eagle on Ponce De Leon Avenue. (Alison Guillory/WABE)


In January of 2020, the organization Historic Atlanta started putting together a preservation plan for Atlanta’s LGBTQ history. That plan has, at its center, another document — Atlanta’s LGBTQ “historic context statement.”

Charlie Paine chairs the non-profit’s preservation committee. He says COVID-19 has slowed their momentum, but they’re celebrating a recent partnership with the city to raise nearly $20,000 for the preservation project. That opened up the gates for a larger federal grant.

Paine told WABE’s “All Things Considered” host Jim Burress that typically, buildings and landmarks less than 50 years old aren’t recognized under the National Register of Historic Places.

“A lot of LGBTQ history that we really consider not only memorable but not hidden in the closet, a lot of that is less than 50 years old,” Paine said.

But the historic context statement is a catalyst for identifying and preserving spaces that have significantly shaped Atlanta’s LGBTQ history—places that were hidden because of heightened discrimination.

Lily Oppenheimer contributed to this report.