A post office was established at Klondike in 1898, and this structure, clad in local granite, is representative of this industry. This is the oldest of just a few surviving commercial structures related to the community. According to a Georgia State University resource survey completed in 2016, it once served as a granite store and was most recently used as the Oak Grove Junction Convenience Store. It is a critical resource for the community and should be preserved.
[This view was made from the rear of the building. The front is nearly identical.]
Klondike Historic District, National Register of Historic Places & Arabia Mountain National Heritage Preserve
Also known as the Lithonia Colored School, the Bruce Street School was opened in 1938 as the first public school for Black children in Lithonia. It was built as a community effort, with granite from local quarries. These ruins are presently the subject of community input for future use.
This colorful mural was a source of controversy because it didn’t get the proper permits. Apparently, it has been completed. It was designed by Steve Paul, founder of the Lithonia Arts Center, and much of the work was by members of the community. I won’t get into local politics, but I think the community should embrace it.
Lithonia First United Methodist Church was established on 14 October 1860 as Lithonia Methodist Episcopal Church, South, with the Reverend Newdaygate B. Ousley serving as first pastor. As with so many Georgia churches, Lithonia UMC began services in a brush arbor and then built a one-room meeting house for services. In 1911, the present structure was dedicated and has served the congregation ever since. It was designed by local born architect John Parks Almand and used local Lithonia granite in its design. Almand left Georgia soon after he designed this church and began his practice in Little Rock, Arkansas. [Interestingly, this church does not appear on most lists of Almand’s work. I don’t know the reason for this oversight.]
Lithonia Historic District, National Register of Historic Places & Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
Established by a group of Freedmen in 1869, Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church [known originally as Antioch Baptist Church] is thought to be the oldest African-American congregation in Lithonia and DeKalb County. The church first met in a brush arbor and built their first permanent structure circa 1871. It was replaced by this structure, clad in local stone, in 1911, and served the congregation until 2004, when a larger facility was built at another location.
The house pictured above originated as a log cabin, built by Joseph Emmanuel Lyon in the 1820s. It was expanded in 1853 and again in 1893, when it took on its present appearance. It is one of the oldest houses in DeKalb County and Lyon family descendants remained on the property until 2007. Slaves from the early days of the farm remained in the area and later established the Flat Rock community nearby.
The house is reminiscent of the Plantation Plain style, but with two bays on one side and one bay on the other, is a bit unusual in its layout.
The gateposts are local granite, as are the boundary stones and flower bed areas.
Grape arbors were common features of many farms; this one was likely added in the 20th century.
The historic smokehouse, thought to be the oldest overall structure on the farm, was recently restored.
A thriving community of African-Americans existed around Arabia Mountain in the years following the Civil War, but by the early 20th century, a mass exodus saw many families joining the Great Migration in search of better conditions in the North.
There were a few communities, such as Flat Rock, that continued to thrive. T. A. Bryant, Sr., born in 1894, was a leader of this community, his church, and a Master Mason, and he worked hard to keep it intact.
He bought his first 43 acres from J. W. South, a descendant of slave owners, in 1925, and saved the Flat Rock community in the process. For over 60 years, Mr. Bryant bought and sold land to people in the community in an effort to keep it intact. Flat Rock actually grew during the Great Migrations, while many historic African-American communities completely vanished.
His small working homestead was self-sufficient and typical of similar farms in early 20th century Georgia.
The property is now home to the Flat Rock Archives, a museum of local African-American history, and open by appointment.
Maps will locate this at Stonecrest, a recently incorporated city in DeKalb County, but as with other such locations in Vanishing Georgia, I prefer to help keep the historical name alive, hence my location of the Bryant property at Flat Rock.
DeKalb County was still largely rural and one of the leading dairy counties in Georgia in 1947 when S. B. Vaughters built this barn to house Jersey cows at his farm, one of the most successful in the area. It later housed Angus cattle and horses, before being sold to the state for perpetual preservation in 2002. Restored in 2018, the barn is located on Panola Mountain State Park and is part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.