The city of Mountain View, GA lost its charter in 1976 and most of the property was purchased by the City of Atlanta as a buffer for the new Atlanta airport terminal. While the people of Mountain View can be found reuniting on Facebook, it’s proving much harder to track the diaspora of the city’s structures. What happened to all the houses? Most were sold, moved, and reconstructed in new locations.
I’ve been trying to piece together the general fate of these houses, in hopes that I would find a clue about my old house on South West Street. I spoke to L.C. Cole last week, a retired Forest Park Fire Chief and State Fire Marshall, who had a hobby or “sideline” as a private developer. He bought and sold, built and relocated large groups of Mountain View houses during the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.
He told me about one quirky case of mass relocation that I had to go investigate.
East Fayetteville Drive in Riverdale is one of Chief Cole’s “developments.” He purchased a group of brick homes at a housemover’s auction in Mountain View and had them relocated to a semi-rural lot south of the airport. The houses – too small to meet code in Clayton County – were a bargain. As fire chief, he had the advantage of knowing and enforcing building code, so he got creative. He placed the tiny houses together in pairs to make a whole neighborhood of duplexes.
Instant slum! I thought, as he described the project with pride. Cheap houses mashed together must be worth even less than the sum of their parts. Especially now that the airport had its new runway slicing across the top of Riverdale, I expected a noisy, neglected, dead end street, dotted with weedy, abandoned duplexes.
But I was surprised with what I found. East Fayetteville Drive still feels semi-rural. It dead ends into a horse pasture. The airplanes landing to the north are as small and muffled as the ones I see from my house. And the duplexes have held up well. They're not only all occupied, they look well-loved. I spotted a basketball goal in the street and a tire swing in a tree. A family was walking to the mosque nearby.
Like the former residents of Mountain View, scattered across the southside of Atlanta, the houses have new lives now. I wonder if the new residents have any clue about their houses' wild history.