By Jill Strickland Luse
For Maynard Jackson High School rising senior Michael Huff, Grant Park has been his playground for most of his life. The Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) recruited the budding photographer as an intern in February 2019 to capture images of the park including the historic structures that are targeted in a Park Pride 2019 Legacy Grant, which will help to restore the 1896 Erskine Fountain, Lion Bridge, and Milledge Fountain.
Huff says his favorite places tend to vary on what pulls his attention when he is in the park. “Right now, my favorite place is Erskine Fountain. I always liked the images of the constellations carved into it and finding my sign when I was little.”
The Erskine Fountain is a memorial to Judge John Erskine, a gift to the city of Atlanta in 1896 by his daughter, Ruby Ward. It was initially located at the intersection of Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets. In 1912, the fountain was moved to Grant Park to serve as a grand welcome to the former Lake Abana Overlook. Today, the Erskine Fountain is corroded and inoperable, as well as missing several decorative elements.
The Park Pride Legacy Grant, which totals $100,000, matches funds for the $230,000 Historic Preservation Project; therefore GPC will raise the remaining $130,000 from the community and supporters.
Huff supports this effort through his photography, which is used in fundraising. He adds that this experience has a deeper meaning for him. “I get a feel of what a real work environment is like, and what it’s like working with an organization that’s also a part of my neighborhood.”
After he graduates from Jackson in 2020, Huff plans to continue his studies at Georgia State University, where he attends its Early College program. Huff will later transfer to New York University to major in film study/production and launch his career as a director.
Grant Park is an oasis of greenspace in one of Atlanta’s most popular neighborhoods, serving the entire region. The GPC works to create a world-class park by restoring and preserving its historic importance and features while providing venues for active and passive recreation. The park was a gift from Lemuel P. Grant, a successful railroad engineer and philanthropist. He donated 100 acres of land to the City of Atlanta for the park in 1882. Today, GPC is a 501(c)(3) organization and its work is funded through memberships, donations, and grants. To learn more about Atlanta’s oldest and fourth largest park or to make an online donation, visit www.gpconservancy.org or @grantpark.atlanta.