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At PATH400’s northern point, new park is underway, with secret gravesites uncovered

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Now archeologically surveyed, ancient cemetery served families when North Buckhead was but farmland

A rendering showing a planned path through a section of the green space.
A rendering showing a planned path through a section of the green space.
Renderings courtesy of Park Pride

What’s planned to be the latest green-space gem along Buckhead’s answer to the Atlanta Beltline will have a reverential component—one that could be twice as large as previously expected.

Positioned at the future northernmost point of PATH400, just before the multi-use trail would cross into Sandy Springs, a wooded, five-acre site called Loridans green space is making strides toward becoming a public park.

A rendering of what the cemetery would look like with simple markers added. Valentino & Associates has documented the locations of gravesites to be preserved.
Park Pride

Those efforts began with a New South Associates archeological survey, which discovered 60 potential gravesites at Lowery-Stevens cemetery—at least twice as many as previously thought were there.

The 19th to early 20th-century burial ground, located near today’s Loridans Drive and Ga. Highway 400, served communities in the formerly rural area.

And now the site, which also was formerly home to D.F. McClatchey Elementary School, represents an opportunity to bring lost history to life in a public-accessible way, project leaders say.

“It’s been a hidden gem, but soon it’ll be a jewel for the neighborhood and everyone on PATH400 to enjoy,” said Denise Starling, Livable Buckhead executive director, in a news release. Her group is spearheading PATH400, which runs along Ga. Highway 400’s spine and, once complete, will provide a 5.2-mile greenway through the heart of Buckhead.

A final vision plan for the park—the product of a seven-month community process led by Park Pride, North Buckhead Civic Association, Livable Buckhead, and Buckhead Heritage Society—embraces the site’s distinctive character, leaders say.

Specific aspects of the Loridans park could include nature trails, an entry plaza with a shade structure, and a lawn with play pieces or public art, among other facets. Plans translated to action when three community volunteer workdays in March began clearing the future park of invasive species, trash, and other debris.

Total cost of the project, expected to happen in phases, is estimated around $700,000.

“No specific funding has been identified at this point, although we’re likely to apply for grants from Park Pride,” a rep told Curbed Atlanta this week, via email.

An interpretive, narrative concept called “Ghosts of History” is one idea for future public art installations at the site.
Buckhead Heritage Society

The bulk of park construction is expected to coincide with the building of PATH400’s segment in the area, which is scheduled for 2022, but “there is a possibility that it could be underway sooner than that,” the rep noted this week.

PATH400 opened its first phase, which connects Old Ivy Road to Tower Place, in 2015, and is now more than halfway finished. A section linking Lindbergh with Lenox Square is under construction now, with a stated goal of finishing later this year.

Once that segment wraps—snaking around MARTA lines, active freight railways, and Ga. Highway 400—the trail will be 67 percent complete.

Scenes from one of three community volunteer workdays at the Loridans site in late March. Future workdays are being coordinated now by Livable Buckhead and the North Buckhead Civic Association.