Talk of the Town - Park pride April 30 2003

Three-bedroom bungalow in East Point's Jefferson Park

It's a Saturday afternoon, two weeks before Jefferson Park's inaugural tour of homes (May 3-4). Michael Compton kneels at the curb at the front of his just-finished bungalow. His partner, Kendrick Hogan, stands beside him, keeping his hands clean as Compton plays in the dirt.

They aren't the only ones busy. A crew of guys landscape a median down the road and a gaggle of elderly women at a nearby church construct a cross with an abundance of fresh-cut flowers to prepare for Easter services the following day.

For many first-time homebuyers, this is what they seek when they come to a 'hood. Not able to afford homes in Midtown or Candler Park, they are discovering the cottages and bungalows of Jefferson Park, where there is a palpable sense of pride. Everyone seems to be renovating and reviving the neighborhood's cozy homes. And now they're ready to show them off.

Creative Loafing: It seems kind of crazy to decide to be part of a tour of homes three weeks after moving in. Aren't you worried about all these people traipsing through your brand-new place? What prompted you to do it? You're masochists.

Hogan: Really good question. I guess we wanted to contribute to the tour. We've made this financial and time investment, and we wanted to share it with everyone. Mike really wanted to do it.

Compton: I thought it was nice to have diversity. There are really, really old houses, and we just barely moved in. The contrast is nice.

Where did you live before?

Compton: We bought and renovated the house next door. When was it? In the spring of '98. Prior to that, we lived in Midtown.

Hogan: Once we finished with the old house, we wanted a new project. This lot was part of our yard, really. We wanted a new house, and now we have it.

I remember being in this neighborhood just over a year ago and noticing the tight-knit community. You have a really strong neighborhood association. What do you think keeps you and others around these parts?

Hogan: The most compelling reason to stay here has been our neighbors. They are more diverse here racially than in Midtown or Morningside.

Compton: There's an African-American family over there, a straight couple over there, an old granny down the road.

Hogan: I also like how quiet it is. We can sit in the back yard and listen to crickets and stuff. But mostly it's our neighbors, our host of friends.

So why do you think Jefferson Park needs a tour of homes? I mean, there are no mansions or great big fancy houses.

Compton: There's a certain level of pride here. The tour shows that we've crossed a threshold. We're not showing off big, fancy houses. We're showing off renovation projects, our gardens. We've really helped turn this neighborhood around.

Hogan: The very same weekend, we are going up against the Druid Hills Tour of Homes. They have pride in their homes, and we do in ours. We don't have the old money here — just new, young couples.


For more information, visit www.jeffersonpark.org.

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