Parks are important places. The story of Mattie Freeland Park is unique, inspiring, and all about community. Mattie Freeland was a matriarch of the English Avenue community, having lived in the same house for more than 55 years.


Despite her family’s desire to relocate her to a safer neighborhood, Ms. Mattie, as she was known, stayed and anchored her corner of the neighborhood. She opened her home to anyone who needed a meal or a place to sleep. In 2007, one year before she passed away, she asked the pastor of New Life Covenant Church if the church would transform an abandoned lot across the street from her home into “something pretty to look at” - it was the view from her porch where she spent a great deal of time. The church and neighbors worked together to clear out the lot to build a community garden and create a small space for neighbors to gather.

Mattie Freeland Concept
Mattie Freeland Park concept drawing. Credit: Park Pride.

A Comprehensive Approach to Conservation

Ms. Mattie passed away before her vision of improvement was realized, but she continues to serve as the inspiration for on-going enrichment of the space. Over time, community members have worked to expand the greenspace and clearing more weeds and trash and seeking donations to help them with improvements. Sod, trees, even playground equipment were donated and soon the vacant lots began to resemble a park. The community now hosts block parties, summer concerts, movie nights, even an annual Christmas tree lighting in the park. In 2015, The Conservation Fund began acquiring the lots on behalf of the City of Atlanta Parks Department so that the space could become part of the Atlanta Park System as a permanently protected community greenspace. The Friends of Mattie Freeland Park also received a Park Pride ‘Visioning Grant’, which included a landscape architect and design team to help them develop plans for their space. Since that time, the Fund has been actively engaged in supporting the Friends of Mattie Freeland Park with fundraising efforts, community art installations, and supporting a Park Ambassador to help support park programming and green infrastructure maintenance.


Billie Walker Mattie Freeland Park PWP copy

“[This park] is showing the community that we’re keeping a promise…because there have been so many broken promises here but we’re actually making this happen, so I’m proud to be a part of this project.”

-Billie Walker, Mattie Freeland Park Ambassador


why this project matters

During the visioning process, residents had many ideas about what they’d like to see in their new park, including a new playground, BBQ area, planters, benches, and a community pavilion. In addition to all the ideas they had for the park, they also expressed a desire to see Miss Mattie’s house transformed into a community center. With support from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, and Holder, Hunt, Russel, Moody (HHRM) — the construction company for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium — the church purchased the property. HHRM redeveloped it into a vibrant community center, open for meetings, workshops, and classes to enable neighbors to learn new skills and connect with one another.

This Park with Purpose is set to finish construction by the end of 2021 or early 2022.



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Mattie Freeland Park 

Mattie Freeland Park 

A community garden and neighborhood gathering place established to honor a matriarch of Atlanta’s English Avenue community.