John Howell Memorial Park
The park is built on the site of 11 houses demolished in the mid-1960s, when the Georgia Department of Transportation proposed building Interstate 485 to connect what is now Freedom Parkway through Virginia Highland to what is now Georgia 400 at Interstate 85. The park site would have been the Virginia Avenue exit off the freeway.
I-485 was finally defeated, and The Georgia Department of Transportation began selling the properties it had acquired. In 1988, the park opened.
In the early 1980s, the Virginia Highland Civic Fund, Inc. was created to plan and develop the space. The park design emerged from a study broadly distributed broadly across the neighborhood. In the late 1980s, the Living AIDS Memorial Park Project and Volleyball Atlanta joined the effort and provided fundraising and technical help.
In 1989, the park was named after Virginia Highland resident and anti-freeway activist John Howell, who died from complications of HIV in 1988.
Peter Frawley & Associates, a local landscape architectural firm, coordinated all the input. In February, 1993, the city council approved the final plan for the park.
Features of the park, from west to east, are:
- Volleyball courts
- Cunard memorial playground, a children's playground dedicated in 2004 honoring neighborhood residents Lisa, Max, and Owen Cunard who were killed in the summer of 2003 by a falling tree during a storm while driving along N. Highland Avenue
- Wrought iron sculpture of a stylized phoenix, the symbol of the City of Atlanta. In March 2000, a plaque describing the history of the Park was added.
- A circular pathway paved with commemorative bricks. Sale of the bricks has funded park maintenance.
Along Virginia Avenue are eleven granite columns, each of which bears the address of one of the homes that were demolished.