Coming down – Crews demolish church

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt April 17, 2014

Today is the day.

Contractors are removing a church at 109 Hibernia Avenue. Developer Thrive Homes is razing the church to build 20 townhomes – the developer describes them as “detached cottages” – that will go for $450,000 to $550,000.

Decatur resident Nathan Nobis posted this video of the demolition in progress.

The church property is formerly the site of Christ Covenant Church, but prior to that it was the home of the Antioch African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first black church established in the city of Decatur. The church was established in Decatur in 1868 and moved to Hibernia, then called Atlanta Avenue, in 1965. The church relocated to Stone Mountain in 1995.

Here are photos from the demolition in progress …

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By Thursday afternoon, families stood on the sidewalk in front of the church to watch the demolition. The kids threw rocks down the driveway. The neighbors said they felt as though the city didn’t stand up to the developers and could’ve done more to slow down or stop the project. The property is already zoned for high density single family residential and the developers did not have to seek any additional zoning. Thrive did ask for a zoning variance, which would of required approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals, but later withdrew that request.

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About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Chris Billingsley

    Sad to see another church building go under but I am hopeful that the future homeowners will join one of the outstanding churches in Decatur. If so, will remain the “City of Homes, Churches and Schools”. Happy Easter!

  • Sine qua non

    How interesting that Thrive chose to tear down this culturally significant sanctuary during the Christian Holy Week.

    Oh, well. There are timelines to be followed and there is money to be made. Sensitivity to cultural issues and community opposition only get in the way of attaining those goals.

    God willing, after making their mortgage, tax and interest payments, the inhabitants of these pricey new dwellings will have money left to support their faith communities. Soon enough, those who attended the old church will pass away, and everything will be nice. After all, it was just an empty old building, right?

    Well, Happy Easter.


  • TinMan

    I don’t see this as a culturally significant building, the culturally significant congregation moved on 19 years ago. I’ll bet a majority of people in Decatur didn’t even know that this building existed.
    What I see is a high-density zoned property being turned into a tax base for the city. By my rough estimate, it will bring in over $100,000 per year in taxes. BTW, I’m not a supporter of Thrive, but they aren’t breaking any laws here.

  • Joe

    There’s nothing that warms my heart quite like seeing property being taxed at its highest and most valuable purpose.

    • Sine qua non

      My heart gets hotter when I see a place where people can find spiritual strength and solace as well as building friendships and community. But seeing a parcel of City of Decatur land transformed into a lean, mean maximum- power tax-generating machine comes in a close second on that cardiac temperature scale!

  • Andrew

    Here’s something that might be interesting for Dan/Decaturish to look into, should he ever find himself bored. Sort of a “tale of two civic buildings” angle comparing Oakhurst with Lenox Place. Both were faced with an abandoned and decaying building well-suited to the role of community center (Oakhurst with the Scottish Rite hospital and Lenox Place with this church). In Oakhurst, neighbors formed a community development nonprofit, marshaled resources, engaged city assistance and solicited proposals from developers. The result was a total renovation and creation of the Solarium, a true gem which will serve the community’s gathering needs (hopefully) indefinitely.

    However, in Lenox Place, I’m not familiar with any efforts along these lines. When it was clear that no one was going to lease or buy the church, did the neighborhood organize and explore ways to purchase and renovate it themselves for collective use? Was there a committee? Was anyone talking about it? I don’t know. As best I can tell from these articles, they did nothing, except blame the city when redevelopment inevitably surfaced.

    To be fair, I really don’t know what lengths they went to, but I’d like to. I think the lesson is, we’re ultimately responsible for our own neighborhoods. It’s hard to point fingers when things unfold predictably.

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