May 10, 2004

Four Emory streams nameless no more       

By Michael Terrazas

Two years after a group of committed individuals set out to name the underappreciated (and often unseen) streams that flow through Emory’s campus, their efforts have been rewarded. In March, the Board of Trustees officially approved names for the four most visible streams, all flowing through either central campus or Lullwater, as well as language for signs to be posted adjacent to the waterways.

The four include:

• Antoinette Candler Creek, named for the wife of former Emory Chancellor Warren Candler, originating under Harris and Thomas residence halls, flowing under Woodruff Library and surfacing in Baker Woodlands.

• George Cooper Creek, named for the longtime Emory coach and director of intramural sports, originating under the CDC and flowing into Peavine Creek near Asbury House.

• Henry Hornbostel Creek, named for the architect who designed the original buildings on Emory’s Atlanta campus, which flows underneath the Cox Hall bridge.

• Ernest Richardson Creek, named for the longtime caretaker of Lullwater, flowing within the preserve close to Clifton Road.

All four names were solicited from the Emory community through a collaborative effort between the Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Stewardship and the Friends of Emory Forest. Tim Bryson, a member of both groups and chair of the University Senate’s Committee on the Environment, led the project. The Emory Stream Naming Committee (or “streamers,” as they called themselves) identified 12 perenially flowing streams to be named but decided to start with the four most prominent.

It appeared to be a simple formula: gather a list of appropriate stream names; have a knowledgable group sift through and choose four; come up with some signage that would educate the public; get it all approved by the board. But the actual process turned out to be much more complicated and touched on issues the original streamers never considered.

For example, one suggestion was to name a creek after James Paden, an antebellum farm owner who owned part of what is now the Druid Hills campus. Paden’s was one of the original four names chosen, but then someone pointed out that Paden owned not only land but also slaves. Would it be appropriate to name an Emory landmark after a slaveholder?

Bryson and the rest of the streamers talked to a number of people across campus, including African American faculty, to get their opinions, and most felt that naming the stream after Paden would be appropriate as long as the signage explained his slaveholding status. Some also suggested a ceremony of some sort that would acknowledge those whom the stream’s namesake once held in bondage.

In the end, however, the stream in question was named for Richardson, which perhaps was even more appropriate since “Mr. Ernest,” as he was known, served as Lullwater’s caretaker for nearly 40 years (1926–62), beginning long before Emory owned the property.

The Paden issue was not the only one to arise. One reason the project was launched in the first place was to call attention to the effects Emory’s growth has had on its environment; several of the 12 identified streams flow underneath buildings or roadways, invisible to the casual passerby, and many carry evidence of humanity’s environmental carelessness.

But instead of posting signs that dwelled on environmental offenses, it was decided to focus on positive steps being taken to either mitigate or reverse the damage development has done to the University’s natural resources. The environmental component of the Candler Creek sign will read: “Exposed tree roots and undercut banks of the creek reveal the impact of increased urban runoff. Campus efforts seek to mitigate stormwater flows.”

When those signs go up, however, is an unanswered question. The stream signs have been rolled into a larger sign project that seeks to educate the community about a number of environmental issues, not just creeks, and about campus history.

In the meantime, the streamers are moving forward with plans to name the remaining eight streams. A website ( explains the project in more detail and lists criteria for stream naming. For more information, call Bryson at 404-727-1277.