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Historical Designation

Whittier Mill Historical Ordinance (the legal ordinance by itself)
Whittier Mill Historical Guidelines (tips to help develop your project plus the ordinance)

Whittier Mill is a local reminder of a period of great importance to the history of Atlanta and the Southeast. As the "New South" emerged from the ruin and chaos of civil war and reconstruction, Atlanta became a regional symbol and center for economic rejuvenation. As the increasing railroads tied the Southeast to Atlanta, and both the region and the city to a national market economy, industries developed along the rail lines and near labor supplies. The mill villages provided a transitional area for rural and mountain people to adjust to communal and even urban life in some cases. Under the paternalistic, if hard and demanding, eye of the mill owners and managers, poor whites did indeed achieve a new lifestyle as the twentieth century dawned while enduring low wages, long hours and the utilization of child labor. The mills themselves also offered the change for interregional cooperation between southern and northern investors.

Whittier Village was connected early on by streetcar lines and a commuter railroad to the larger metropolis. Churches and schools were built to encourage socialization, education, and worker stability. The placement of the settlement house in the community in 1910 shows the prevalence of the Progressive Movement's ideas in Atlanta as it helped introduce modern medical treatment and group activities to the "villagers."

The large, community-oriented buildings of the mill and settlement house are unfortunately gone. The distinctive and typical mill tower (needed to contain a water tank for fire protection) remains to create a visual anchor for the industrial nature of the development, however. Most important, the housing of the workers or operatives remains and gives a true sense of time and place, especially if interpreted realistically. According to local residents, there has been very little new construction in the community since the 1920s, thus enhancing the value of Whittier Mill as an historic district.

In 1994 Whittier Mill Village was designated historic. Historic designation provides many positive things for the residents. Residents can receive tax credits for rehabilitation and generally will see an overall positive impact in property values. It also insures that the historical elements of the community remain intact by developing Historical building guidelines or "rules." Even if there is to be new construction, the houses must maintain the historical features of the original structures built over 100 years ago.

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