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East Atlanta's Guardian of History

Henry Bryant is the force behind the annual Battle of Atlanta Civil War remembrances. He also is the fount of knowledge behind the history of all things East Atlanta.

At Patch, we're all about what's local. As part of that, we have a regular feature, along with our sister website, Huffington Post, called the "Greatest Person of the Day." These stories and vignettes serve to highlight those in our communities doing things — some big, some small — that leave our corner of the world just a little bit brighter. Today we highlight Henry Bryant of East Atlanta, who is known as the neighborhood preservationist and community historian.

In East Atlanta, if you want to know why or how a street got its name, ask Henry.

If you want to know why some houses aren't in keeping with the dominant style of East Atlanta's housing stock, again, ask Henry.

With just about anything one wants to know regarding the history behind what we know as East Atlanta, all you need to do is ask Henry Bryant.

It's that wealth of knowledge that prompted East Atlanta Community Association President Lewis Cartee to ask Bryant to begin giving talks at the group's monthly meetings about various points and places of interest and their historical significance.

A longtime resident of East Atlanta, Bryant is best known as the driving force behind the Battle of the Atlanta remembrances and reenactments every year. The B*ATL events, which occur this week in different parts of Southeast Atlanta, serve as a reminder of the battle on July 22, 1864, which cost 12,000 Union and Confederate soldiers their lives.

He also is behind the current efforts to help restore and refurbish the General McPherson and General Walker monuments in the East Atlanta and Parkview neighborhoods, respectively.

The monuments are in serious need of repair and Bryant has gone to different organizations — including EACA and Neighborhood Planning Unit-O — to ask for those organizations' support for grant applications toward the restoration efforts.

To Bryant, maintaining the lifeline to a community's roots helps its residents understand the neighborhood's place in the history of Atlanta.

"When you start stitching this tapestry of what is a neighborhood, by talking to people and exploring the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood...pretty soon you have a very interesting picture of this place," Bryant told East Atlanta Patch.

"History is not segmented, it's a whole continuity of events. One thing is connected to another."

 

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