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Decatur purchases historic campus for (potential) large new park space

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Old United Methodist Children’s Home will become property of the City

An aerial view showing the large, green campus in relationship to downtown Decatur, just to the northwest.
The large campus will become space for city functions.
Base via Google Maps

Early this year, Decatur residents and preservationists across Atlanta were alarmed to hear the United Methodist Children's Home—a feature in the community since just after the Civil War—planned to sell their sprawling campus near downtown Decatur.

Locals feared that a developer would snatch up the prime 77-acre parcel, demolish the original buildings, and construct dense residences, potentially flooding the surrounding neighborhood streets with traffic.

But there was another option.

Soon after the listing was announced, the City of Decatur began negotiations with the Children’s Home, with the goal of securing a sale to the city. Then, things went eerily silent.

After months of quiet dealmaking, the Trustees of the UMCH agreed to a sale to the city for $40 million this week. The Decatur City Council voted on Monday to approve the terms, ensuring the preservation of the historic chapel on the site.

Plans for the remaining buildings on the site, and the site itself, are still in the works. However, previous indications pointed to possible park space and community-focused development.

The deal is expected to close this summer, with UMCH vacating the site soon after.

A stone chapel and two Victorian homes are visible on a sloping grass lawn.
The campus in the 1800s, and today. The chapel will be preserved.
Flickr - Decatur Then and Now