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Church’s historic status is another wrinkle in Star Bar redevelopment

The International Montessori Academy is housed in a historic former church that is listed as contributing to the Candler Park Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo from International Montessori Academy website.)

By John Ruch

With outrage still boiling over the Star Community Bar’s possible demolition, a little-discussed wrinkle is the historic status of a former church that is part of the larger plan.

Dating to at least 1951, according to DeKalb County property records, the church at 1240 Euclid Ave. is listed as a contributing structure to the Candler Park Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. That status does not prevent demolition or changes but does provide tax-credit eligibility for restoration. The status is generally intended to highlight a structure’s significance to its neighborhood’s historic character and promote preservation.

The historic former church building as seen in a 1982 photo included in the Candler Park Historic District filing for the National Register of Historic Places.

The church is currently home to the International Montessori Academy, which reportedly plans to move next year. The school has not responded to comment requests.

The development team of Point Center Partners and Third & Urban broadly propose erecting apartments on the school property and replacing Star Bar at 437 Moreland Ave. in neighboring Little Five Points with a new commercial building. The exact plans for the school and the historic church building are unclear, as the developers did not respond to a comment request and have declined to reveal their current concept. Scott Fleming, a local architect who discussed the plan in a recent community meeting at Star Bar, has said various versions have been shown to residents, both keeping and demolishing the church building.

According to the history book “The Highs and Lows of Little Five,” church use of the Euclid Avenue property dates at least as far back as the 1930s. The site was home to Little Five Points Baptist Church, then Euclid Avenue Baptist Church, which apparently built the current building, and later Vision Church of Atlanta. It was long home to the religious organization Atlanta Children’s Coalition of Cornerstone Missions.

A 2007 redevelopment plan aimed at the property proposed building lofts in the church building. That fell through, and the school took over about a decade ago.

The Candler Park Historic District was filed in 1983, with the former church as a contributing property featured in a photograph. An expansion and update of the district filed in 2005 kept the church as a contributing feature.

The district does not include Star Bar or most other commercial buildings along Moreland. While the bar is a well-known local landmark with a legacy of music culture contributions and housed in a unique former bank dating from sometime between the 1930s and 1950s, it has no official historic status or protections.

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