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Chastain Park Conservancy; You Go, Grill!

I love it when we get calls from unexpected places http://artofstonegardening.com/atlanta-history-center-stone-pathway-renovation. Located as we are, in Lumpkin County, we do not do much business in the Atlanta area, it is just too far of a drive. This project, though, sounded interesting and came from an unlikely source, the Chastain Park Conservancy. They needed help with the stone grills that are spread throughout Chastain Park, which is in north Atlanta. Art of Stone Gardening answered the call.

The mission of the Chastain Park Conservancy is “to restore, enhance, maintain and preserve the Park’s 268 acres for its over 3.2 million annual visitors.” (https://www.chastainparkconservancy.org/)

Chastain Park – A Popular Place

Chastain Park, the City of Atlanta’s second largest park, is classed as a regional park. It serves as a neighborhood park to those who live in the Buckhead and Sandy Springs neighborhoods surrounding it. It is a beautiful park with picnic areas, walking trails, a wonderful playground, golf course, horse park, and pool. The Cadence Bank Amphitheater has been hosting outdoor concerts since 1944, and the Chastain Park Arts Center hosts numerous classes, exhibits, and events. Local sports teams and organizations compete on the park’s tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields. Suffice it to say, the park and its facilities get a lot of use.

Originally named North Fulton Park, it was renamed Chastain Park in the 1940s. Here are some websites that tell the story of Chastain Park.

The Atlanta History Center:  https://album.atlantahistorycenter.com/digital/collection/athpc/id/1574

Sandy Springs:  https://www.sandysprings.com/neighborhoods/chastain-park/

City of Atlanta:  https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/departments/parks-recreation/office-of-parks/list-of-parks-alphabetical

Digital Library of Georgia:  https://dlg.usg.edu

Eighty-Year-Old Masonry Barbeque Grills

Built to last, this once handsome grill has been laid low by generations of use and weather. The Chastain Park grills were made from granite, probably granite from Elberton, GA.

Within the park’s landscape are 13 stone barbecue grills that were built in the 1940’s. For eighty years they have served park enthusiasts, and they are falling apart. The Conservancy asked us to rebuild them. Granite is a very tough stone and because it is so hard, it takes a real craftsman to cut and fit it. 

This image shows the extensive loss of mortar and how the masonry has been patched over time. We did not reuse the granite from the original grill as it had mortar on it and the stones were stained.
The Conservancy had us start with one grill that is near a large, popular pavilion. The stone grills are 3.5’ tall, 5’ wide and 3.5’ deep.
The entire grill sits on a 6” concrete base that is also 6” wider than the footprint of the grill. We built the structure of the grill using concrete blocks, then granite stone veneer was attached to the concrete block.

We used fire bricks that withstand high heat line to line the cooking area. Special clay, fireclay, is used to set the bricks. Fireclay is mixed with Portland cement and builders’ sand and together this mortar withstands high heat without falling apart.

We had a local welder create the custom grates. I particularly like the flat side for grilling veggies, fish and items that could fall through the grate. The grilling surface is 2’ x 3’.

Bon Appetite!

Ah, the joy of cooking out. There is a particular pleasure in grilling and preparing food out of doors, especially when it is done on a well-designed grill.

It is our hope that future generations of park users will delight in using the newly constructed grill.

As always, Art of Stone Gardening enjoys the challenge of solving clients’ problems, unexpected or not. Feel free to contact us with your ideas and dreams about an outdoor grill.

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