It’s estimated that the Civil War left 10,000 Georgia children orphaned—a plight of particular concern to Doctor Jessie Boring, a Methodist minister, who in 1871 led the creation of the Orphans’ Home of the North Georgia Conference on farming property in Norcross.

After a devastating fire destroyed the home just two years later, its trustees purchased nearly 250 acres on the southeastern side of Decatur to relocate the operation, soon christened The Decatur Orphans’ Home.

The property is home to many historical buildings dating to the early 1900s, including Moore Chapel built in 1906. There are also graves on the property, including the grave of Rev. Boring who died in 1890 at the age of 82.

In 1934, following a half century of operations, the Board of Trustees approved a name change that would better reflect the growth and affiliation of the organization—The Methodist Children’s Home. Thirty-six years later, in 1970, “United” was added to the name, reflecting the continued growth and transformation of the Methodist denomination.

Legacy Park, early in the 20th century.

Legacy Park today. (Source here.)

A Community-Driven Master Plan

The United Methodist Children’s Home ultimately occupied the property for 144 years before its historic sale to the City of Decatur in 2017. The purchase — 77 acres in total, including green space and historic buildings — allowed the City to preserve the property for public enjoyment and funded an endowment that now supports the Methodist program (since renamed WellRoot) to provide in-home foster care in support of at-risk youth.

Programming, operations, and long-range plans for the property are tied to the Legacy Park Master Plan, a multi-decade vision created by the community through an expansive collaboration process.

The resulting plan prioritizes natural conservation, recreational amenities, inclusive community spaces, affordable housing opportunities, the preservation and repurposing of historic buildings, and the celebration of arts and culture.

A vision for public space at Legacy Park.

A New Generation of Stewardship

Today the property is managed by Legacy Decatur, a 501(c)(3), created to support the City of Decatur and the small community-based programs and projects that perpetuate its community values for future generations.

As the property’s stewards, Legacy Decatur is charged with managing the day to day operations of the park, tenant relations, and the incremental implementation of the Master Plan.

Current nonprofit tenants include: AJC Decatur Book Festival; the Decatur Education Foundation; Georgia Arborist Association; Global Growers; L’Arche Atlanta; Paint Love; the Frank Hamilton School; Wild Nest Bird Rehab; the Refugee Women’s Network; and the Wylde Center.

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