Cabbagetown: Atlanta's Appalachian families keep traditions alive
Atlanta's Cabbagetown, down to a handful of families from Appalachia, get together for quilting, bingo, and reminiscing each week.
• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
Stubbornly close-knit, members of Cabbagetown’s original Appalachian families, now numbering only about 13 households, still meet four days a week at the Savannah Street Neighborhood House, known as “the mission,” to quilt, play bingo, and reminisce.
Increasingly boxed in by incoming hipsters, skate punks, and young professionals, Cabbagetown’s original families sometimes feel marginalized. Resentment has flashed both ways, as newer residents complain about unkempt front yards.
But natural disasters have helped to forge an unusual alliance in a changing Cabbagetown and given new direction and spirit to one of America’s most unusual urban neighborhoods.
A 2008 tornado, a stubborn drought, and, last month, a 100-year flood shook residents out of their routines and into their neighbors’ lives. In the wake of the events, appreciation quickly built for the kind of self-reliance and communal spirit epitomized by the Appalachian descendants.
Cabbagetown was built in 1881, a mill village of small tightly spaced homes. The name comes from the once-ubiquitous cabbage peddlers who plied the streets. Mountain people looking for work settled it and worked at the mill. The entire 300-residence district is now on the National Register of Historic Places because of its concentration of Victorian frame homes and “shotgun” houses.
The concrete-block mission is the only organization original to the area still run by Appalachian descendants. The “Cabbagetown Ballad,” with its refrain, “We’re a mountain clan called Cabbagetown in the city of Atlanta, GA,” is still hummed amid quilting bees there.