Atlanta Eagle could become Atlanta’s fourth landmark to the LGBTQ community
By David Pendered
The Atlanta Eagle could become Atlanta’s fourth monument to the LGBTQ community, following steps Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Thursday to preserve the building that housed the now-shuttered nightclub.
Bottoms released a statement at 5 p.m. announcing the intentions of her administration to protect the building from potential demolition. The plan is to have the structure designated an historic building/site by the arm of the city that oversees historic preservation, the Urban Design Commission.
If the designation is awarded, the Atlanta Eagle “would be the first recognized and legally-protected LGBTQ landmark in the Deep South,” according to a statement by Historic Atlanta, the organization that campaigned for the designation.
Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, said Georgia Equality sent a letter two weeks ago to endorse the proposal, but was not a leader of the effort – which the mayor attributed to the organization Historic Atlanta.
- “It is so affirming, and long overdue, to have the City of Atlanta officially recognize the historical importance of the gathering places that mean so much to the LGBTQ community. To have one of the first places, the Eagle, speaks well not just of the mayor’s office, but to their understanding of the spaces that are important to the LGBTQ community, and to those spaces that have allowed LGBTQ Atlantans, and visitors to our city, to feel comfortable, supported and allowed to be who they truly are.”
Graham also raised the Atlanta Police Department’s raid on the Atlanta Eagle that some have likened to a smaller, Atlanta version of the 1969 raid on the Stonewall Inn, which President Obama in 2016 named a national monument to recognize its role in the LBGT civil rights movement.
- “Because of the City of Atlanta’s shameful history of the raid on the Atlanta Eagle more than a decade ago, it is especially significant that Mayor Bottoms would recognize the Eagle as an important historical place.”
If designated as an historic site, the Atlanta Eagle would join three other tributes in the city that were established over the past 41 years to commemorate the LGBTQ community and include:
- The public library on Ponce de Leon named in 2019 for the late Joan Garner, Fulton County’s first openly gay commissioner and a strong advocate of public health. Fulton County’s board of commissioners voted unanimously for the measure;
- The Ray Kluka Park, named in the 1990s for an LGBTQ advocate who served as president of the Midtown Neigbhorhood Association. The park is located near the intersection of Monroe Drive and Greenwood Avenue;
- The John Howell Park Memorial Park, named in 1989 for a resident of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood who helped lead the vigorous protests that halted construction of a highway through the neighborhood. The John Lewis Freedom Parkway is the only portion that was built of the proposed Stone Mountain Freeway. Howell died of complications of HIV.
Bottoms’ comment in the statement observes:
- “Businesses are feeling the devastating effects of COVID-19 this year, including LGBTQ-owned small businesses. This has led to LGBTQ-owned businesses around the country closing their doors. The Atlanta Eagle has a rich history and is a beloved place for so many people in Atlanta and across the world.”