The unassuming brick ranch from 1953 at 1138 Harwell Street is where Edward Johnson, a World War II flight instructor with the Tuskegee Airmen, established his family’s roots in Atlanta after the great war.
As the first black Licensed Master Electrician in Atlanta, Johnson had built the home (completing the wiring himself, of course) on one of Washington Park’s last undeveloped lots, neighboring an active Westside railway that’s since become the Beltline’s Westside Trail. With his wife, the late Harriet May Robinson, an Atlanta Public Schools kindergarten teacher and Spelman College graduate, he raised three daughters there.
Johnson died in June at age 103.
But before his passing, Johnson sold the family home—along with another in the neighborhood—to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, in hopes the properties could afford other families a life similar to what he’d known.
Now, the Georgia Trust has wrapped an eco-friendly renovation of the formerly blighted property and is offering it for sale at $198,000.
The sale is a partnership with Atlanta Land Trust and is meant to ensure permanent affordability of the home at 80 percent area median income, or lower. (Right now, that means a qualifying family of three would be capped at making $57,400 annually, or $63,750 for a family of four.)
It’s part of a Westside Preservation Initiative program that aims to revitalize communities such as Washington Park both sustainably and affordably.
This initial project met a set of Earthcraft Sustainable Construction standards, and a “preservation easement” will be applied to the home “to protect it from demolition or insensitive alterations in perpetuity,” officials noted.
A key feature of the three-bedroom property is steps-away access to the Westside Trail. It counts 1,479 square feet, one and a half bathrooms, and the potential to expand with an unfinished basement.
Beyond his military service, Johnson founded a company with a fellow Tuskegee Airman, Johnson & Wood Electric, which served as a training ground for young black electricians in the city.
“We are greatly indebted to the Johnson family for making this [rehabilitation and sale] possible,” Mark C. McDonald, Georgia Trust president and CEO, said in a press release today. “It will make a delightful home for a family.”
An open house is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 1138 Harwell Street. Here’s a sneak peek.