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Joe Earle Posted by on September 5, 2014.

‘Exhibit art’ to evoke Buckhead’s history

“Ghosts of History” is one of the concepts Buckhead Heritage has for illustrating the community’s past.

“Ghosts of History” is one of the concepts Buckhead Heritage has for illustrating the community’s past.

Imagine walking through a Buckhead park surrounded by ghostly Civil War soldiers cut from metal. Or looking at a building through a clear plate etched with a photo of how that spot looked 50 years ago.

Those are a couple of the ideas members of Buckhead Heritage are tossing around as they plan how to illustrate the community’s history.

“We want people to ask, ‘What’s going on?’ ‘What’s the story here?’” said Erica Danylchak, executive director of the nonprofit group created to identify, preserve and promote Buckhead history.

Buckhead Heritage has worked with consultants and a steering committee composed of other Buckhead groups and organizations since last October to draw up plans for presenting local history. The group developed five “storylines” to tell the community’s tale and mapped sites that illustrate those stories.

Buckhead Heritage’s steering committee also is thinking up ways to present the sites to people who visit them. “Unconventional exhibit art, along with interpretive signage, will be used to evoke Buckhead’s history in imaginative ways in parks and urban plazas in the community,” Danylchak said.

The committee has developed 10 different methods of interpreting each site, including the metal sculptures of soldiers and use of historic photographs on see-through panels. “You’d stand in a certain spot and see what it looks like now and see what historic fabric we still have,” she said. “One of the things we love about this program is the opportunity to capture a really wide
audience.”

The nonprofit plans to launch its program during the Buckhead Business Association’s annual “Taste of Buckhead” event at the Buckhead Theatre on Sept. 18. Part of the proceeds from a fundraising auction during the event will benefit Buckhead Heritage and the interpretative program, the nonprofit
says.

“We still have some questions we need to figure out over the next few months,” she said, “but we wanted to give people a peek at what we’re doing.”

Work on some of the installations could start as early as 2015, but “this is long range,” Danylchak said. “You’re not going to see all these concepts pop up over a year. It’s probably a five-year
program.”

The proposal to present Buckhead history in new ways grew from Livable Buckhead’s planning to increase park space in the eastern portion of the community. The history survey covers areas from the city line on the north and east to I-75 and I-85 to the south, and the Chattahoochee River to the west.

The storylines the group has developed, Danylchak said, show “how Buckhead has changed and evolved over time.”

The goal, she said, is “to bring our history to a broad audience, to bring an awareness and appreciation for the historic resources we have left in the community and the rich stories that are part of the fabric of the community.”

The program is intended to interest both Buckhead residents and tourists. “It’s for people who are here in the community,” Danylchak said. “When I travel, I go to places where I can get a sense of place. What’s their story? [Tourists] come for the wonderful shopping and the wonderful dining, but there’s more here, too. We want to make sure people
know that.”

The storylines the steering committee has identified cover: Buckhead’s early years; the Civil War and War of 1812; African-American history in the area; “unsavory” stories such as the area’s history as a location for moonshining; and the area’s development and growth in the late 20th century from a suburb to a residential and commercial center. The group has identified several dozen separate sites to
highlight.

Individual sites could be connected through walking tours of the community. “As Buckhead gets more pedestrian friendly, people can walk from one station to the next,” Danylchak said. “Once we got the stories we wanted to tell, we started plotting them on a
map.”