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.

Credit: Parks with Purpose

Despite her family’s desire for her to relocate, Miss Mattie, as she was known, stayed and anchored her corner of the neighborhood. She opened her home to anyone who needed a meal or place to sleep. In 2007, one year before she passed away, she asked New Life Covenant Church’s pastor if the church could 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 Park concept drawing. Credit: Park Pride.


Miss Mattie passed away before her vision of improvement was realized, but she continues to serve as the inspiration for ongoing enrichment of the space. Over time, community members have worked to expand the greenspace by clearing weeds and trash and seeking donations to help with improvements. Sod, trees and playground equipment were donated and soon the vacant lots began to resemble a park. The community now hosts block parties, summer concerts, movie nights and even an annual Christmas tree lighting in the park.

In 2015, The Conservation Fund began acquiring the available lots on behalf of the City of Atlanta Parks Department so 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 develop plans for the space. Over many years, The Conservation Fund has supported the Friends of Mattie Freeland Park with fundraising, community art installations and a Park Ambassador program to support programming and green infrastructure maintenance. In 2022, the park was officially transferred from The Conservation Fund to the City of Atlanta and open to all, thanks to support from The JPB Foundation, U-Haul and many others.


“[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


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 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. Now, these two spaces will forever honor Miss Mattie’s memory and be available for the English Avenue community to enjoy.



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