The Athens Downtown Development Authority (ADDA) has received an AARP Community Challenge "quick action" grant of $9,300 for a new interpretive exhibit, an African American culture and heritage library, and a walking tour map between the Morton Theatre and the Lyndon House Arts Center. The map will tell stories of Black Athenians from the Civil War to the early 1900s.

The Ware-Lyndon House and the Morton Building, located seven blocks apart in downtown Athens, tell very different stories of Black Athenians from the Civil War to the early 1900’s, a time span representing one generation.  Both buildings are owned by Athens-Clarke County and serve as cultural centers. We intend to forge a connection between these two buildings through exhibitions, programs, and tours.  The Ware-Lyndon House was originally owned by a prominent physician who enslaved as many as 100 people.  Seven blocks away is the Morton Theatre, the oldest surviving vaudeville theatre in the U.S., uniquely built, owned, and operated by an African American in the early 1900’s. This Challenge Grant funding will assist with an interpretive exhibit that will be established this year at the Ware-Lyndon House. The exhibit will focus on those who were born enslaved on the Ware plantation, their lives post-Emancipation, and the stories of their descendants.  In addition, an African-American Heritage library is planned at the Ware-Lyndon House to provide opportunities for civic research.  Within the seven blocks that lead from the Ware-Lyndon House to the Morton Building are other sites of relevance as well as rich stories of neighborhoods past, changing, and future.  In this year, we plan to map out a walking tour between the two historic buildings, along the way highlighting the Athens Music Walk of Fame, the Hot Corner Legacy Mural, First AME Church, and the desegregation of the University of Georgia 60 years ago. In a second phase, we will install an interpretive exhibit at the Morton Theatre, which will highlight the African-American pharmacy and other black-owned businesses once housed there. 

For more information on the AARP Livable Communities quick action grant program:


Linda Ford, Athens Downtown Development Authority