Reynoldstown has a extensive history, during the Civil War, the area around what is now I-20 and Moreland Avenue was the site of vicious fighting during the Battle of Atlanta on what was then called Bald Hill between Union forces, under Maj. Gen. James McPherson, and the Confederates, led by Gen. William J. Hardee. McPherson was killed during the battle. After the war, Reynoldstown was a stopover for trains along the Georgia Railroad line. A sawmill in the area provided employment for many freed slaves, who soon formed the core of the working-class community. By 1870, the area was named Reynoldstown in honor of Madison Reynolds, a farmer who owned a store on Wylie Street. His son, I. P. Reynolds, dealt in real estate and built a two-story brick store in the neighborhood. The trolley came to Reynoldstown in the 1880s, making a commute to downtown Atlanta a short trip. Early in the 1900s, the community was annexed by Atlanta. At one time, the intersection of Wylie and Kenyon Street boasted a barber shop, a grocery store and restaurants. After the closing of the Fulton Cotton Mill in the adjacent Cabbagetown community and the decrease in train traffic in the 1930s, Reynoldstown began to decline. Seven years ago, the formation of the Reynoldstown Revitalization Corp. began the work of restoring old houses and building new ones in the neighborhood.
The MARTA rail line that runs along DeKalb Avenue links two neighborhoods at the Inman Park-Reynoldstown station. On the south side, residents of the modest cottages and bungalows of Reynoldstown are struggling to keep their homes repaired and the vacant lots cleared of kudzu. RRC, a neighborhood-driven revitalization group, just a few years old, is working hard to renovate older homes and build new ones. In the past couple of years there has been an infusion of energized homeowners ready to tackle the boarded-up or burned-out Craftsman cottages to renovates and make them their dream homes. Almost 40 percent of the neighborhood's population is elderly. Surrounded by communities such as Inman Park, Cabbagetown, Ormewood Park and others that have turned their fortunes around, Reynoldstown is ready to be next. Involved newcomers are spreading the word. "I'd heard of the train station, but I'd never heard of Reynoldstown," Newcomers who have bought rehabbed Reynolds- town houses say, "It didn't mean anything to me. And it didn't look like very much, either." But after years of living in an apartment near Piedmont Park, I was persuaded by a friend to give the neighborhood a try. Renovators and first time homeowners are buying these 85-year-old homes that have to be gutted and rebuilt. They are taking these boarded up abused cottages renovating and painting them in vivid blues, yellows and greens ---"like a tropical island" ---of historic colors, and calling them home. Beyond the new front porches are hardwood floors, 11-foot ceilings, skylights in gourmet kitchens and transoms above the doors and windows. The drivers by are amazed at the transformation this neighborhood is taking. Neighbors devote their energies to cleaning up and changing people's perceptions about the community. One neighbor says, "I got involved to help bring the neighborhood back to the way it was,". "We wanted the houses fixed, but the senior citizens don't have the money. Since RRC has been around, Reynoldstown has been more on the ball, and we're able to do more for the neighborhood." The rehab work got under way about two years ago, when RRC leaders divided the neighborhood into nine blocks and started making lists of the senior citizens and low-income residents whose homes needed repairs. They have coaxed grants from private companies to pay for new roofs, floors, cabinets, furnaces and bathrooms. They've enlisted the support of groups such as Hands on Atlanta and Christmas in April to supply the manpower. This makes Reynoldstown one of Atlanta best neighborhoods to live and invest in real estate.