West Hancock Avenue National Register District


The Mack-Burney House at 853 Reese Street was the home of two generations of African-American educators and the second black dentist in Athens. The house was slated to be demolished but is currently under a demolition moratorium, while preservationists work on a plan to save it.

Sunday, November 19, 2017 at 2:00pm

The West Hancock Avenue Historic District is a historic urban black neighborhood roughly bounded by Franklin Street on the east, Broad Street to the south, The Plaza on the west, and Hill Street on the north, with Hancock Avenue serving as the main transportation corridor. It is one of only two black districts on the National Register in Athens (the other being the Reese Street Historic District), and it is among the most intact black districts in the state. It is significant in terms of black history, architecture and community planning and development. The district typifies a land use pattern associated with Georgia communities in which black neighborhoods were relegated to, and then capitalized on, under-utilized land. It was noted in a 1913 Phelps-Stokes Fellowship Study that this area between Milledge Avenue and the city limits had become a little town in itself with more than 1,100 of the city’s 6,300 black residents living in the area at that time. A broad spectrum of Athens’ black citizens—from educators, doctors and lawyers to skilled and unskilled laborers—lived within the district. Among its better known residents was educator Annie Mack Burney (1884-1963), whose father John Mack was also a teacher, and Dr. Donarell R. Green (1908-1980), a physician who operated the Susan Medical Center, a maternity hospital located in a house on the corner of Hancock Avenue and Chase Street. This tour will last approximately two hours.

Tour guide:  

Fred Smith, Sr. is a retired district director of the Georgia Department of Labor and has worked more than 30 years in state government. He has an equally extensive background as a community advocate. Smith has served two terms as president of the local NAACP chapter, co-founded and served as co-president of the Creative Visions Foundation, served on the Athens Area Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors and was a founding board member of the Athens Tutorial Program. Smith co-founded the Athens Area Black History Bowl, an academic competition open to grades 5-12, which is designed to stimulate an awareness of and appreciation for African-American history and culture. Mr. Smith was named 2016 Partner of the Year by the Athens Land Trust and received the 2017 President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award from the University of Georgia. He holds a bachelor’s in sociology from Paine College in Augusta and a master’s in journalism and mass communication from the University of Georgia.

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