What I learned about VaHi from old Voice newsletters

by Brian Gross, Communications Committee

Voice logos through the years. Click to enlarge image.

I recently helped scan and uploaded more than 60 past issues of the Virginia-Highland Voice, the VHCA’s long-standing paper newsletter, which continues today in electronic form. The issues ranged from the very first Voice in 1972 through 1976, then a large gap, and then other issues dating from 1988-2012.

By scanning headlines I was able to create online tables of contents for each issue. In doing so I read many articles and I thought I’d share with you the most interesting articles I found. Keep in mind I’m a relative newcomer (3 years) – and I know that others might find other topics more interesting than I do. Also, I know there is always more to the story than what I found. I speak for myself here and not for the VHCA. With those disclaimers, here’s what I found interesting:

Neighborhood Empowerment and Fighting I-485

Planned route of I-485 through VaHi

The Voices from the 70s don’t actually give the full background and context of the battle that raged at the time against the building of the I-485 freeway north-south through Virginia-Highland and other neighborhoods.

Nor do they discuss the fact that this was the first time neighborhoods actually had a voice – “the third leg of the stool” in the city, next to business and the black community.

But it is interesting to catch these glimpses of that time, once I was educated on the context and history.

One article also explained the very real problem of redlining at that time – something that until recently I only thought happened in minority areas. (Voices from 19721973197419751976)


The most intractable problem in VaHi?

Virginia-Highland’s broken sidewalks? “Always and forever” an issue… examples:


Almost a 2000-person mega-entertainment complex?

The VHCA battled some projects that would have been disastrous and might have led us to become a second Buckhead village (where violence from partygoers got so bad they tore the place down!):

But, the association lost the battle to save dozens of majestic oak trees at 830 Ponce, the site today of The Carlton on Ponce condominiums.

Ponce de Leon Avenue

In 1990 a “Ponce Taskforce” was formed, and the Fall 1990 issue was dedicated to Ponce, inventorying the help organizations there, the transient hotels, and the problems. In 1992 there was a spirited letter to the editor against a potential expansion of Grady Hospital onto Ponce.

Ponce has improved substantially since then I am sure, but is still a problem. I feel that as a  community we “face” north, west and east, but turn our back to Ponce. Is the community too exhausted to try and improve it?

Summerfest and Tour of Homes

Summerfest is present in nearly every issue, Tour of Homes almost as often, and every year the plans were announced and the ever-greater successes described. Some articles that stood out:


Of course, John Wolfinger’s Safety Reports are legendary, but were not included in the hard copy Voice because of John’s desire to have the reports distributed by street captains, thereby strengthening that program.

As the person who drove the 2010 expansion of FBAC (member supported security patrol) to cover the entire neighborhood, I found it interesting to read about a spirited, but unsuccessful effort to do so in 1994, as well as to track how FBAC came to be.

Parks and Trees

John Howell Park 1988 original plan

Some standout articles:

His work was to grace VaHi

The tireless efforts of Stephanie Coffin to save trees and plant more are a red thread throughout almost all Voice issues.


Superior Foods closes, 1994

  • In 1994, residents were shocked by the sudden closing of Superior Foods grocery, where CVS is today on N. Highland.
  • Recently a friend from Vinings asked me if I enjoyed all the galleries in VaHi. I was baffled – what galleries? Now I understand – she hadn’t been to VaHi for a long time! In 1993, VaHi was famous for art galleries – I enjoyed this overview of them.
  • In 1994 VaHi was coffee and dessert-obsessed – I enjoyed the comparison of seven locations. Why are there no dedicated dessert places today!?


Portraits of exceptional neighborhood volunteers and organizers:

And honorable mention to indefatigable columnists:

  • Nan Hunter’s recycling columns in the 1990s when recycling was a new idea
  • The Highland Ho-er (gardening tips by today’s safety guru John Wolfinger)
  • Colonel Mustard (restaurant reviews)

PS – Some of the ads were very entertaining too, such as this 1990 Murphy’s ad:

Ad for Murphy's, Virginia-Highland Voice, August 1990


More Voice past issues available online

We have scanned more past issues of the Virginia-Highland Voice — the following additional issues are available online.

See also the full archive at vahi.org/voice-print.


Voice – May 2012 – Fundraising Efforts and Fun!

Fundraising Efforts and Fun!

  • Dine-Out Saturday to Benefit New Highland Park: Be sure to stop Osteria 832 (832 N. Highland) this Saturday, May 5 from 5pm to 10pm for music, giveaways, $1.50 pizza slices and beer specials! Proceeds from their anniversary celebration will benefit New Highland Park and Fire Station 19. Be sure to bring the family!
  • Summerfest is June 2nd and 3rd  with the neighborhood parade, dinner and movie on June 1st.
    • Win $250 in Art! – “Like us” on the Summerfest Facebook page, and you’ll be automatically registered to win a $250 coupon that you can spend on your choice of art available at the festival!
    • Don’t forget to volunteer (get a free Summerfest t-shirt) – spots are filling up!
    • Print your Summerfest calendar of events!

Don’t Miss Out on the Fun – Volunteer for Summerfest Now!

Please support our incredible community by donating a few hours of your time at this year’s festival. Volunteer slots are generally 2-3 hours, with many areas from which to choose – parade, 5K, artist market, kidsfest, etc.

Volunteering is lots of fun, and Summerfest just won’t be the same without you. Come join in the fun and go home with the coveted volunteer t-shirt!

Click the Volunteerspot link below to learn more and sign up to help. If you have any questions, contact volunteer coordinator John Becker atjnbecker@me.com.


New on vahi.org

New content on vahi.org:

News archives are not complete — we present what is available today, with more to come…


Voice – March 2012 – New Voice, new website!

by Brian Gross, Communications chair

Welcome to the new monthly online edition of the Voice, which will bring you a tailored, relevant selection of articles each month direct to your inbox. The online Voice  complements our “regular” email updates, which are sent ad-hoc as needed, generally about twice a month in addition to the Voice.

If you wish to print a PDF version of this Voice, please click here. You can also comment on articles on the website and read others’ comments — see below. Brent Schnee (editor@vahi.org) is the content editor for the online Voice and Brian Gross (me, communications@vahi.org) is production editor.

In addition to the online edition, the VHCA will be publishing a print version of the Voice twice this year, once in advance of Summerfest and once in advance of Tour of Homes. Later this year the association Board will assess how and if it will continue with printed editions.

Finally, we’re so excited to announce that the VHCA website, www.vahi.org has a completely new look, vastly expanded content, and is much easier to navigate. New content includes expanded News and Events content, new sections for Safety, Sidewalks, and Traffic, an A-Z of government services, and a Photo Gallery. The history and preservation content is being pulled over from the lovevh.org site and will be vastly expanded, but you can already download the entire 11-part series on VaHi history by Linda Merrill. There are even specially tailored versions for smartphones (whether you use an iPhone, Blackberry, or Android) and even for iPad!


www.vahi.org new website — click to enlarge

VHCA site on iPhone and iPad — click to enlarge

Many thanks to Ida Centner of Centner Consulting for creating the “bones” of the site, and to Phuong Nguyen of Creative Crop for the design.

We hope that our new trio of electronic media will provide the information that you, our audience, truly are looking for, with the timeliness and ease of access that best serves you.

Continue reading — March 2012 Voice (online edition)