The Beacon Community was the center of Decatur's African American community until its demolition by the Urban Renewal programs of the mid-1960s. Bounded by N. McDonough Street on the east, W. Trinity Place on the north, Water Street on the west and Howard Avenue to the south, the area included a tight-knit residential community, schools and churches in addition to numerous African -American owned businesses. Atlanta Avenue once connected Trinity Place West (formerly Herring Street) and Howard Avenue and was the center of the African American business district. Tyler Funeral Home is the only remaining business.
The buildings on this site once housed Beacon Elementary and Trinity High School. They served African-American children until 1967 when the integration of the Decatur School System was completed. These schools replaced the Herring Street School that served the community from 1913 to 1956.
The Allen Wilson Terrace Public Housing Project constructed in 1941, was named for the first African-American School principal in Decatur. These school buildings, Lilly Hill Baptist Church, the former Trinity Presbyterian Church on Robin Street and the Allen Wilson Terrance project are the only remaining buildings dating to the early years of this neighborhood.
The Beacon Community was home to Henry Oliver, a business owner and resident who was honored in 1902 with a local street named for him. In 1983, the street name was changed to Commerce Drive and his name was given to a meeting room in the new Decatur Conference Center. It was also home to Deacon J.H. Ebster for Ebster park was named; Federal Court Judge Clarence Cooper and Elizabeth Wilson, Decatur's first African-American city commissioner and mayor.