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Virginia-Highland historic site, tied to first building constructed in Atlanta, demolished

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Todd Cemetery Memorial, relic of the area, was removed by residents, and the Civic Association isn’t happy

Long before the Virginia-Highland neighborhood came to be, there were rolling hills and forests inhabited by the Creek Indians.

In 1821, the area was settled by the Todd family, following a land lottery which divided up large tracts of the Atlanta area. They constructed a house, quite possibly the first permanent homestead in what would become Atlanta, at what is the present-day intersection of Greenwood and Bonaventure avenues.

While the house and other family buildings are long gone, vestiges of that first family were still locatable in the form of the Todd Cemetery Memorial, marking the burial ground of the first settlers, Richard and Martha Todd.

While the Todd’s tracts of land and burial grounds have been developed over the years — the last two in the 1980s — the memorial was a lasting tie to the history of the neighborhood, tucked on private property but accessible via easements.

But the marker is gone.

According to Jack White, the outgoing president of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, the residents whose land the monument stood on destroyed the marker. Those responsible had originally restricted access to the property after moving in in 2014, White says.

A lot of the details are laid out, with a little legalese for good measure, by the civic association on their website.

While the destruction of the monument cannot be undone, the association is seeking damages and hopes to get the monument restored.

The situation, for now, is locked in a civil legal battle, pitting the landowner against the association.

The history of the Todds is likely unknown to most Atlantans, but it’s a compelling example of why the city’s history matters and how it shapes Atlanta today.